Slovakia and Serbia fight for survival

PREVIEW: The competition in Groups C and D draws to a close, as the last remaining main round berth is to be decided in Group D, while three teams battle for first rank in the Group C

Photo: Stephane Pillaud

The unpredictable Group C in Varazdin lived up to the expectations, as co-hosts Croatia bowed out of the competition following a 24:26 loss to Germany on Wednesday.

The three remaining teams, Sweden, Netherlands and German, have still a chance to win first place, while Croatia will give their best efforts to please the fans in Varazdin, playing for pride against Netherlands.

Sweden will seek their chances against the German team which boosted by the return of the right back Susann Müller.

Serbia and Slovakia will fight for the last remaining main round berth from Group D in a direct duel. Serbia will hope to put an end to their disappointing run (19:22 against Montenegro and 16:27 against France) at this EHF EURO.

Montenegro and France will battle it out for the first-placed finish, with the match promising to be an exciting one, as both teams are showing obvious signs of increasing form in each match.

Group C - Sweden vs Germany, Friday 12 December, 18:00 hrs

Sweden's Ida Oden was key in the 30:30-draw against Netherlands as she scored the game-tying goal in the dying moments to salvage one point for her team.

But Sweden will face the tough challenge against Germany with more confidence, as they take heart from their determination in the last seconds of the match.

"Germany is a totally different team. They are much taller. It will be tough to play against them," says Swedish left back Jenny Alm.

The return of the quintessential right back Susann Müller saw the chances of the German team considerably boosted, as they recorded their first Women's EHF EURO 2014 victory against Croatia.

Coach Heine Jensen will look forward to utilise Müller in the best way possible in order to get his team up and running after Müller's return instilled his team with belief and confidence.

"If we manage to play well in defence and play with discipline in attack, we can go far. Anyway, I don't want to stir up expectations too much," said Müller, after her team's win against Croatia.

Group C - Croatia vs Netherlands, Friday 12 December, 20:15 hrs

The co-hosts Croatia will play for pride, following their early exit from the competition.

It is the first time that the hosts of the Women's EURO misses the main round, since it was implemented in 2002 (the only time it happened before was at the Men's EHF EURO 2006 when Switzerland were faced with an early exit).

Nevertheless Croatia have unfinished business in Varazdin as they are looking to win their first points at the Women's EHF EURO 2014, if the key players like by Andrea Penezic can find the mental strength to recover from Wednesday's tough blow.

"I am very disappointed, I cried. We played our home championship and it is a big surprise that we will not go to the next round," said Andrea Penezic who is the best scorer of the competition so far with 19 goals.

Netherlands have already secured their qualification for the main round, but in case Sweden miss their chance to record a win against Germany, two points against Croatia would see them remain on top of Group C with five points.

"We need to play our own match. We need to keep cool and if our play does not work we need to go back to the game that we can play: with speed and with our heads. We will not be impressed by a full arena," said Dutch goalkeeper Tess Wester.

Group D - Montenegro vs France, Friday 12 December, 18:00 hrs

The battle for first place in Group D throws off in the first match on Friday. Not many unknowns exist as both teams shone well above the rest in Group D with their speed, efficiency and composure.

Montenegro and France will have their chances in this match vastly depending on the form of their wing players, in both attack as well as transitional defence.

Jovanka Radicevic and Majda Mehedovic will be absolutely key in detaining the likes of Siraba Dembele, while the flamboyant playmaker Alison Pineau will have to endure the pressure of the 22-year old-line player Suzana Lazovic, who plays an excellent Women's EHF EURO 2014 so far.

Despite already securing a place in the main round, motivation will not be missing from this encounter, as neither of the talent-laden teams will show any fear, underlining the importance of playing for their country at the Women's EHF EURO 2014.

"We are a small country but all the players will show how we fight for the national symbol that we wear on our shirts," said Suzana Lazovic.

Group D - Serbia vs Slovakia, Friday 12 December, 20:15 hrs

No one would think the underdogs Slovakia would have the power to decide the faro of the World Championship runners-up.

Serbia made it significantly harder for themselves with two losses in two matches, as the injury crisis in the team further deepens, but they will have the experience on their side.

"This match is going to be like the final for us. We have to show our quality, and prove it to ourselves in the first place that we can make it," said Serbian coach Sasa Boskovic, confident in his teams' cohesion and mental strength.

"If anyone can do it, it's us. We've been there (in the main round) and done it before," said Andrea Lekic, who has already demonstrated great desire to help the team, despite not being fully recovered from injury.

Slovakia will depend on flair and leadership from the experienced Katarina Dubajova and Lydia Jakubisova, with their coach Dusan Poloz admitting he specifically prepared his team for this match, even before the start Women's EHF EURO 2014.

"Even before the EHF EURO we knew that we have the best chance against Serbia. We prepared for this match the most," stated Poloz.

written by Nemanja Savic / ts


Women's EHF EURO 2014 Final Tournament Draw