20220119

Title-holders eye another step towards the semi-finals

EHF / Adrian Costeiu

There is literally no room for mistakes as group II of the EHF EURO 2022 main round throws off on Thursday in Bratislava, with three teams tied on two points on the top of the standings.

Two of those teams, Germany and reigning champions Spain, will be looking to add to their tally when they meet, while Russia hope to extend their winning streak in another crucial tie against Sweden.

Meanwhile, Poland and Norway will finish the day in a pivotal game for their fate in the competition, with both sides tied at zero points before the first match day of the main round.

GROUP II

Russia vs Sweden
Thursday, 20 January, 15:30 CET, live on EHFTV

  • Russia can start the EHF EURO with four wins in a row for the second time in history, after Portugal 1994 and Croatia 2000, when they went on to win silver
  • Sweden will start the main round with zero points, after winning only one game in the preliminary round, their second-worst start in the history of the EHF EURO, after Poland 2016, when they lost twice in the first round
  • Russia’s strength in the tournament was their back line, as Sergei Mark Kosorotov and Dmitry Zhitnikov combined for 31 of Russia’s 88 goals in the preliminary round, or 35 per cent of the total number of goals scored. However, Kosorotov, who returned a Covid-19 positive test, will miss at least the next three games for Russia             
  • the Scandinavian side have the second most efficient attack in the competition, 71 per cent, only behind Germany (72 per cent), despite scoring only 85 goals in the preliminary round
  • Sweden won 11 of the 17 mutual matches between the two sides, with Russia boasting five wins. The last came at the EHF EURO 2004, 30:27 in the main round

Velimir Petkovic, Russia coach: “The two points we take in the main round are crucial to the future. If our team plays like this, with huge character and with the same rhythm, I think we can have some good results in the main round in Bratislava. We proved how good we are against Norway, when we were outsiders, so we can also have good results in the main round, in Bratislava.”

Glenn Solberg, Sweden coach: “We know we can play better in the main round than we did in the preliminary round and we need to improve our fast breaks. Let’s see what we can change in the next games.”

20220119 Gpii Preview GER

Germany vs Spain
Thursday, 20 January, 18:00 CET, live on EHFTV

  • Spain are currently on the largest unbeaten streak in the history of the competition, 15 games, dating back to the EHF EURO 2018, when they lost 22:25 in the preliminary round against Denmark
  • Germany have enjoyed their best start ever at the EHF EURO, having won the first three games they played in, boasting a +22 goal difference – the third best, after Denmark (+30) and France (+26)
  • despite having the 10th best attack in the competition, with 86 goals in the first three matches, Spain have once again relied on their team spirit, with only two players scoring more than 10 goals – back Agustin Casado and left wing Angel Fernandez
  • when they score their 15th goal against Spain, Germany will become only the fifth team in the history of the EHF EURO to hit 2,500 goals in the competition
  • Germany and Spain met in competitive matches 27 times, with ‘Los Hispanos’ taking 19 wins, as opposed to Germany’s six. Germany won the EHF EURO 2016 final 24:17

Jordi Ribera, Spain coach: “Matches against Germany are always special, especially in the main round of a major tournament. Germany count on an extremely well-organised defence, they play very physical, so for us it will be difficult to build up our type of match play in attack. Most important will be to control the ball and avoid turnovers. For both sides, definitely, the defence will be the key to win.”

Alfred Gislason, Germany coach: “We are taking two points in the next phase of the competition, but we will have some very difficult opponents. I think we will start against Spain, the reigning champions, who have roughly the same core, despite bringing in new talent. Russia, Sweden and Norway are also difficult opponents, so we will have our work cut out.”

Poland vs Norway
Thursday, 20 January, 20:30 CET, live on EHFTV

  • this is a crucial tie for the two sides, who are both starting with zero points, as the team that will lose will be virtually eliminated from contention for a semi-finals berth
  • Norway’s influential back Sander Sagosen needs only eight goals to become the 20th player in EHF EURO history to have scored 150 goals, when he plays his 30th game in the competition against Poland
  • Norway have the third best attack in the competition, scoring 92 goals in the first three games, despite putting only 22 goals past Russia in their second game of the preliminary round
  • Poland have already improved from the 21st place sealed at the EHF EURO 2020 and will have their best finish in the competition since 2016, when they finished seventh
  • Poland hold a positive head-to-head record against Norway, winning six games, as opposed to the Scandinavian’s side four wins, with two other matches ending with a draw. However, Poland have not beaten Norway since 2009

Patryk Rombel, Poland coach: “I am proud with how the team played up until in this point of the competition, with having so many players out. We must quickly draw up a solution, because we want to continue fighting and win points.”

Christian Berge, Norway coach: “We will be taking it one game at a time, as we will be facing difficult opponents. Right now we are only thinking about the next game.”

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