Games between pressure and pleasure

ROUND PREVIEW: Six more matches complete Round 4 of the Women's EHF EURO 2014 Qualification and up to three more teams can clinch their berth for the final tournament


Photo: EHF

Montenegro, Netherlands and Sweden can clinch their berth for the Women’s EHF EURO 2014 when Round 4 concludes 4 on Sunday, while Poland and Slovenia can make huge steps respectively towards the final tournament. The pressure on Serbia, on the other side, has increased.

Group 3: Montenegro vs. Czech Republic; Sunday, 16:00 hrs. local time in Bijelo Polje
First leg: 24:23

On home court the defending EHF EURO champions can clinch their third successive participation at an EHF EURO tournament, if they beat the Czech Republic.

After an occasionally weak but eventually successful performance in the first part of the double-header, in particular Montenegro’s top shooters, Katarina Bulatovic and Milena Knezevic, will be eager to proof their true abilities.

The Czechs stood strong on home ground and have shown their away strength already by winning at Poland, thus another open and thrilling encounter can be expected.

Group 3: Poland  vs. Portugal; Sunday, 17:30 hrs. local time in Zielona Gora
First leg: 24:17

Following their two opening defeats in Rounds 1 and 2, the World Championship 2013 semi-finalists Poland are back on track – but a second win against Portugal is a must to remain in the race for the 14 EHF EURO tickets.

If the Czech Republic lose at Montenegro and the team of Kim Rasmussen win on home court, the Poles have their fate in their own hands again – but they must win the direct encounter in their last and crucial match at Czech Republic.

In the first leg Portugal were close for 45 minutes, but then lacked power and concentration against the internationally more experienced and more powerful Polish side.

Group 4: Spain vs. Netherlands; Sunday, 13:00 hrs. local time in Logrono
First leg: 22:27

Can Spain recover from the clear defeat of the first leg? At 13:00 hrs local time on Sunday they will their Round 4 campaign at Logrono to turn the duel with Netherlands in their favour this time.

If the Dutch take their second win and keep their clean record, they are already through to the final tournament. In case of a Spanish victory still both sides remain in the favourites’ role and march in step to the EHF EURO.

Group 5: Sweden  vs. Serbia; Sunday, 18:15 hrs. local time in Kristianstad
First leg: 25:25

A duel of nerves and psychology throw off in Kristianstad.

As Sweden turned a four-goal deficit on Thursday into a draw by a last second goal of Linnea Torstensson, psychology speaks for the Scandinavians.

After missing the World Championship 2013, the “Tre Kronors” – 2010 silver medallists at the EHF EURO in Denmark and Norway - can clinch their berth for Hungary and Croatia with another victory. The Serbs – current world championship silver medallists - are under enormous pressure, having only three points so far.

If they lose again, they do not only need to beat their other Group 5 opponents, Slovenia, but also most likely need a helping hand of Sweden in the remaining two rounds.

Group 5: Slovenia vs. Switzerland; Sunday, 17:30 hrs. local time in Ljubljana
First leg: 24:22

Switzerland showed a strong but eventually unsuccessful performance on home court, but how strong is the team of Jesper Holmris in away matches?

Slovenia, coached by former Swiss coach Marta Bon, are supposed to be the favourites in this second part of this double-header, but considering how the first leg panned out, they need to be aware of Switzerland.

But Slovenia will have in mind that another victory might be the crucial boost for reaching the EHF EURO 2014, depending on the final result of the match Sweden vs. Serbia.

Group 6: Belarus  vs. Norway; Sunday, 16:00 hrs. local time in Mogilev
First leg: 29:33

Norway are already qualified for the EHF EURO, while Belarus can benefit from this constellation and increase their chances for the final and decisive matches with Romania in June.

Despite playing away, the reigning Olympic champions are the favourites in Mogilev.

Belarus were strong opponents in the first leg, but could not really threaten the Norwegians on their turf – but things might change with the boost of the home fans.

written by Björn Pazen / ts


MR II: Sweden vs. France