Spain rely on experience as teams announce their rosters
With 24 days to go until the Men’s EHF EURO 2022 in Hungary and Slovakia throws off, many of the 24 participating teams have announced their final squads.
Here is an update on the latest team news ahead of the European Championship.
Spain coach Jordi Ribera has selected his 18 players
Two-time defending Spain start their preparation with only 18 players. They gather in Madrid on 26-30 December for the first phase of preparation. Head coach Jordi Ribera counts on experience again, with Iñaki Peciña (33) and Kauldi Odriozola (24) the only players who have not competed at a major event before.
Compared to the Spain’s squad for the Tokyo Olympics, two key players have returned: Joan Canellas and Aitor Arino, who missed the Olympics due to injury. Despite his initial retirement plans, defence boss Gedeon Guardiola is still part of the squad.
France’s Luka Karabatic is doubtful
France coach Guillaume Gille will bring together 20 players on 26-30 December in the Maison du Handball in Créteil for a first, short preparation. The 20-player squad includes 12 names that were part of the golden team at the Olympics. Two injured players will sit out the session later this month: Timothey N’guessan and Jean-Jacques Acquevillo; defence specialist Luka Karabatic is doubtful.
“The training camp marks the beginning of a new adventure after our weak ranking at the previous EHF EURO,” Gille said. France will face Norway and Denmark at another edition of the Golden League just before the EHF EURO 2022.
Denmark count on 14 players from German Bundesliga
Denmark coach Nikolaj Jacobsen has announced his 20 players for the European Championship. Denmark are playing test matches against Norway and Egypt on 6 and 9 January. No less than 14 players from Jacobsen’s selection are playing in the German Bundesliga: Niklas and Magnus Landin (both THW Kiel), Kevin Møller, Aaron Mensing, Emil Jakobsen, Lasse Svan, Mads Mensah, Simon Hald (all SG Flensburg-Handewitt), Jannick Green, Magnus Saugstrup (both SC Magdeburg), Jacob Holm, Lasse Andersson (both Füchse Berlin), Niclas Kirkeløkke (Rhein-Neckar Löwen) and Johan Hansen (TSV Hannover-Burgdorf). Also, Olympic MVP Mathias Gidsel is set to join Füchse next season
Still, the biggest name is Mikkel Hansen, the Paris Saint-Germain HB star who returns home to Denmark and play for Aalborg Håndbold from 2021/22.
Norway travel to Slovakia with 20 players
For his 20-player roster, Norway coach Christian Berge has replaced injured right back Magnus Rød with Christoffer Rambo, who is set to appear in his first major tournament since the World Championship 2009. Eight of the 20 players are with German clubs, among them superstar and EHF EURO 2020 top scorer Sander Sagosen, who plays for THW Kiel.
EHF EURO 2022 will be Berge’s eighth tournament as national team coach; two years ago he had steered the team to their first medal as they finished third. Norway start the final preparation for the European Championship on 2 January, including the Golden League tournament with matches against Olympic champions France and world champions Denmark.
All stars are on board for Slovenia
Many players with EHF Champions League experience feature on Slovenia’s 20-player list, including Blaz Janc, Gasper Marguc, Blaz Blagotinsek or Jure Dolenec. Coach Ljubomir Vranjes will start the preparation with his team on 26 December at Zrece, followed by matches against Croatia and Italy before Vranjes will cut down his roster.
Four newbies in the Swedish squad
World Championship runners-up Sweden will start their preparation with 18 players. “We want to be ready to fight for the title, but the road to get there is rocky,” head coach Glenn Solberg. He has included four new names in his roster: Karl Wallinius (Montpellier HB), Eric Johansson (Elverum Handball) and Felix Möller (IK Sävehof), who all played against Poland in November, as well as Tobias Thulin (TVB Stuttgart), who is expected to form the goalkeeper team with Andreas Palicka (Rhein-Neckar Löwen) and Peter Johannesson (TBV Lemgo Lippe). Möller is the only squad member playing for a Swedish club.
Niclas Ekberg is the most experienced player of the squad with 189 matches; Palicka (128) and Jim Gottfridsson (115) have also passed the 100-game mark. Sweden have two test matches against Netherlands before their EHF EURO campaign in Bratislava.
German playmaker Juri Knorr likely out of EHF EURO
After Paul Drux and Patrick Groetzki, Germany might have to do at EHF EURO 2022 without another key player: Juri Knorr. The playmaker, son of EHF EURO 1996 top scorer Thomas Knorr, has not been vaccinated against Covid-19; he contracted the virus in November 2020 but that has been too long ago to mee the event’s strict criteria. “Due to these circumstances, Juri will not play any role in our plans for the EHF EURO,” said Axel Kromer, sports director of the German Handball Federation.
Sponsor saves Lithuania’s EHF EURO journey
Lithuania had finally qualified for an EHF EURO again for the first time since 1998, but the trip to Hungary-Slovakia 2022 was under pressure because of financial challenges. Just in time, a sponsor has been found as a betting company has secured the team’s EHF EURO adventure.
“We are happy that handball is becoming more visible, and we want to take its popularity to a new level in the country,” said Donatas Pasvenskas, the president of the Lithuanian Handball Federation. “We hope that this championship will become a point of reference that will increase the popularity of our beloved sport. It would not be possible without a partner, so it is very important that we have found a general sponsor for the team.”