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05.08.2010, 13:13
2010 Men’s 20 European Championship Update
«Go back »Print Version


Germany, Portugal, Slovenia and Denmark are the four semi-finalists.
 

2010 Men’s 20 European Championship Update

Since 29 July 2010, the Men’s 20 European Championship takes place in the two halls SH Pasienky and Sibamac Arena NTC in Bratislava, Slovakia with 16 teams comprised of players born on or after 1 January 1990.

The upcoming new European champion in the Under 20 category is just two matches away from winning the title. Four teams remain in the medals game as the tournament will resume after Thursday‘s rest day.

After Germany and Portugal had their semi-finals tickets already secured earlier, Slovenia and Denmark joined the party after Wednesday‘s completion of the Main Round. In the first semi-final the title defenders from 2008, Germany, will face Denmark while Portugal will take on Slovenia. Both duels are rematches of major final games of the past two years. In 2008 the Germans beat the Danes in the gold medal game of the U18 European Championships and last year Slovenia defeated Portugal in the last match of the European Open in Sweden.

Portugal against Slovenia

For many people it is a huge surprise, but Portugal indicated their membership among the world’s elite over the past years. They missed the U18 European Championships two years ago because of a worse goal difference after tying Denmark. Last year they won silver at the European Open in Partille.

Slovenian back player Žiga Mlakar can very well remember that final match and celebrating the gold medal after their 29-28 victory. He played a big role in the thrilling match against Spain (29-26) on Wednesday.

"Portugal has a very good team, they perform modern handball and they have been playing together for a long period now. I reckon this semi-final match has no favourite – both teams have a 50-50 chance."

At this tournament Slovenia could not only rely on their long-distance snipers Mlakar, Cingesar and Nosan, but also on a great deal of support from their huge goalkeeping prospect Emir Taletovič.

But there is a lot of self-confidence in the team from Iberian Peninsula, and no reason why they shouldn’t trust themselves. On their way so far with Iceland and Denmark they have beaten two Nordic heavyweights, with the fifth victory in their fifth match against France they completed their spotless record.

„That match couldn’t threaten our semi-final participation, therefore we were not under pressure. Still we fought as we had been doing during the whole tournament. We clearly demonstrated that our presence in the semi-finals is not a coincidence, we showed we are a balanced team," the Portuguese player Bélone Moreira said.

Germany against Denmark

In the second semi-final two neighbouring rivals face each other. Two years ago and just one hour of driving away from Bratislava, Germany succeeded 31-27 over Denmark at the U18 final in Brno (CZE).

Just minutes after being eliminated in the Quarterfinal the Icelandic coach Einar Gudmundsson predicted: "I am sure Denmark will defeat Germany." Just moments before he had to swallow a bitter pill of failure, after the medal gate had shut down for his players only three seconds before the final buzzer.

His Danish counterpart Ole Norgaard agreed: „I see no reason why we shouldn’t dream of the final as we are in good shape for that game. Anyway, it will be a tough match; the teams know each other very well. And the Germans are the favourites."

The Danes, who dream of repeating the golden success from 2008 of their two years older countrymen, will have to fight another opponent before the throw-off of the semi-final: some of their players suffer from flu symptoms.

Germany had their first tournament defeat on Wednesday against Sweden, but rested key players. Their biggest star Steffen Fäth was benched the whole game.

„It’s true, we played many games against each other and have enough information. Denmark play a very good 6-0 defensive system, their attack is based on that. I can’t see any favourites for the semi-finals," German head coach of Germany Martin Heuberger underlined.

There is a tight race for the tournament’s top scorer’s crown with Slovakian Dominik Krok leading with 37 goals followed by Kentin Mahe (FRA) and Gudmundur Olafsson (ICE) tied at 35.

Semi-finals

Friday, 06 August 2010, 17:30 hrs: Germany VS. Denmark
Friday, 06 August 2010, 20:00 hrs: Portugal VS. Slovenia
Sunday, 08 August 2010, 19:00 hrs: Final
(all times are local)

Top Scorers (after 5 matches):

1. Dominik Krok (SVK) – 37 goals
2. Kentin Mahe (FRA) – 35 goals
2. Gudmundur Olafsson (ISL) – 35 goals
4. Gašper Marguc (SLO) – 34 goals
5. Sergey Zhedik (RUS) – 33 goals

Find all information on Men’s 20 European Championship on www.ehf-20euro2010.com


TEXT: Vladislav Brindžák
 
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