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11.01.2012, 12:12
14 matches to decide the winners
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The European qualification matches in the 2013 Men’s World Championship are on the finishing straight with the last two rounds this week.
 

There are just 14 matches remaining before we will know the seven nations who will qualify for the play-off stage of the Men’s World Championship 2013. The top two teams in all groups will play over two legs on Wednesday/Thursday and Saturday/Sunday. Only the group winners proceed to the play-offs in June 2012, where they will take on 11 teams who qualified from the EHF EURO 2012 in Serbia. As nearly all groups are so close, just two teams could qualify in Round 5: the Netherlands and Switzerland.

Group 1:

Austria and Israel have each taken two easy victories against Great Britain and so are level on points. Austria have the advantage of having the re-match at home, but their goal difference is +31 compared to +12 of Israel.

Round 5:
Israel vs. Austria
Wednesday, 11 January, 19:15 hrs local time, Rishion Le Zion

Round 6:
Austria vs. Israel
Saturday, 14 January, 20:20 hrs local time, Maria Enzersdorf

 

Group 2:

A clash of two heavyweights – and only one can progress: Both Ukraine and Portugal have already participated at EHF EURO events and World Championships, now they meet for the final clash. Portugal has a better goal difference, and coach Mats Olsson can count on a young, but highly motivated squad. The Ukrainians meanwhile have a physical advantage, so it is hard to predict who will progress.

Round 5:
Ukraine vs. PortugalPortugal, 250
Thursday, 12 January,18:00 hrs local time, Zaporozhye

Round 6:
Portugal vs. Ukraine
Sunday, 15 January, 15:00 hrs local time, Espinho

Group 3:

Belgium proved no obstacle for either Latvia or Montenegro – both earned four points. Both teams have some experienced players in their squads, so this is another clash with no clear favourite. Maybe the goal difference of the direct duels will decide this encounter.

Round 5:
Latvia vs. Montenegro
Wednesday, 11 January 19:05 hrs local time, Dobele

Round 6:
Montenegro vs. Latvia
Saturday, 14 January, 18:00 hrs local time, Cetinje

Group 4:

Will the defeat in Finland prove to be Estonia’s downfall? The Baltic team need two victories over the Netherlands to qualify for the play-offs. The Dutch are in the easiest position of all 14 teams in the final qualifying stages: If they win the first leg on Wednesday they are already group winner.

Round 5:
Netherlands vs. Estonia
Wednesday, 11 January, 19:30 hrs local time, Geleen

Round 6:
Estonia vs. Netherlands
Saturday, 14 January, 16:00 hrs local time, Polva

Group 5:

At their new "theatre of handball dreams" in Schaffhausen the Swiss team (4 points) can qualify for the play-offs after their first match on Thursday, after the surprising draw between Lithuania and Italy in round 4. If Switzerland win the first match, they cannot be caught by their rivals.

Round 5:
Switzerland vs. Lithuania
Thursday, 12 January, 20:00 hrs local time, Schaffhausen

Round 6:
Lithuania vs. Switzerland

Sunday, 15 January,19:00 hrs local time, Vilnius

Group 6:

Another open match is expected in the decisive clash between Bosnia Herzegovina and Greece. Both teams have four points, but Greece was lucky to take the victory in Cyprus in Round 4. Both can count on European Cup and VELUX EHF Champions League experience in their teams. The Greek team have a small advantage because their play the final group match at home in front of their frenetic spectators.

Round 5:
Bosnia Herzegovina vs. Greece
Wednesday, 11 January, 18:00 hrs local time, Gorazde

Round 6:
Greece vs. Bosnia Herzegovina
Sunday, 15 January, 20:00 hrs local time, Thessaloniki

Group 7:

An Eastern European fight for the play-offs: Both teams have four points, but Belarus were lucky to scrape past Luxemburg in round 4. It is a duel of a huge number players with VELUX EHF Champions League experience from Constanta and Minsk – however Belarus not only have home advantage for the final match, but also five times CL winner Siarhei Rutenka in their squad, so they will start as slight favourites.

Round 5:
Romania vs. Belarus
Wednesday, 11 January, 19:00 hrs local time, Bucharest

Round 6:
Belarus vs. Romania
Sunday, 15 January, 14:30 hrs local time, Minsk

 


TEXT: Björn Pazen
 
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