23/01/2020

Title holders on the hunt for third straight EURO final

SEMI-FINALS PREVIEW: Defending champions Spain will meet the last team to defeat them at an EHF EURO, Slovenia; Norway are aiming to make their first-ever EURO final by beating Croatia

Norway, Spain and Croatia are all unbeaten at this tournament. Photos © Nebojsa Tejic / Jozo Cabraja / kolektiff

In the first semi-final, co-hosts Norway hope to reach their first ever EHF EURO final after two world championship silver medals in 2017 and 2019. Their opponents from Croatia, who have won two silver and three bronze EHF EURO medals so far, still wait for their first trophy on the European stage.

The second semi-final will see Spain on the hunt for a place in their third straight EURO final, while Slovenia aim to reach the trophy match for only the second time in history.

The only team to defeat Spain on their way to their historic EHF EURO title in 2018 was Slovenia – and that was the last time the ‘Hispanos’ lost a match at the final tournament. While Spain may appear favourites, both teams know Slovenia have the chance to upset the title holders.

SEMI-FINALS

Croatia vs Norway

Friday 24 January, 18:00 CET, live on ehfTV.com

  • Croatia have their ninth EHF EURO semi-final ahead; for Norway it is the second semi-final at European level after 2016, when they lost against Germany
  • at the EHF EURO 2016, Croatia beat Norway in the bronze final; at the EHF EURO 2018, the Croats took a 32:28 main round victory
  • Norwegian struck back at the World Championship 2017, beating Croatia 26:25 after extra time in the semi-final to win their first ever medal
  • overall, Croatia have the head-to-head edge, with eight victories to Norway's four in 14 encounters - two matches were a tie
  • both teams are still unbeaten at the EHF EURO 2020. Norway won all seven matches, Croatia won six and tied in the last main round encounter against Spain
  • both sides are currently on their longest ever unbeaten EHF EURO run, with eight matches each
  • Norwegian superstar Sander Sagosen is currently the top scorer of the EHF EURO 2020 with 51 goals, while Croat Igor Karacic is the 10th best scorer with 29 goals
  • Sagosen is 10 goals shy of the all-time scoring record for one EHF EURO, gained by Kiril Lazarov (MKD) with 61 goals in 2012
  • in the goalkeepers' ranking, Norwegian Torbjoern Bergerud has made 62 saves, while Croat Marin Sego is on 48
  • Croatian team captain Domagoj Duvnjak is nine strikes short of his 150th goal at EHF EURO tournaments

Spain vs Slovenia
Friday 24 January, 20:30 CET, live on ehfTV.com

  • Spain are playing the EHF EURO semi-finals for the fifth consecutive time, and have a chance to win their eighth medal in total
  • the defending champions’ current record unbeaten run of nine matches started in the final main round match, against Germany, in 2018 – which followed a loss against none other than Slovenia
  • Spain have scored more goals at the EHF EURO 2020 than any other side, with a total of 222
  • the ‘Hispanos’ goalkeepers have the highest save rate overall, with 91 saves at 34 per cent
  • while Spain took their maiden EHF EURO title at the 2018 edition in Croatia, Slovenia ranked eighth two years ago
  • Slovenia have ended a 16-year wait to reach the EURO semi-finals, and will target their second medal in the competition’s history after the silver at their home event in 2004
  • Slovenia had four straight wins to start the EHF EURO 2020, before suffering their first defeat – a one-goal loss to Hungary – on the second main round day in Malmö
  • Slovenia’s semi-final fate came down to a Portugal win over Hungary on Wednesday, and they were the lastteam to qualify for the final weekend in Stockholm
  • overall, Friday’s clash will be Slovenia’s fourth semi-final at major international tournaments. Alongside the 2004 EURO, they reached the medal round at the 2013 and 2017 World Championship
  • Slovenia’s defence ranks among the best in the EURO for blocked shots, with 18, and they also count on the individual top scorer among the two sides: Jure Dolenec, who plays for Spanish VELUX EHF Champions League side Barça, with 32 goals
written by Courtney Gahan, Björn Pazen / jh