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03.04.2013, 17:41
Much at stake for many teams
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Hungary vs. Croatia and Germany vs. Czech Republic the top duels on the conclusion of the third EHF EURO 2014 qualification round
 

Much at stake for many teams

After the start of round 3 of the Men’s EHF EURO 2014 qualification on Tuesday and Wednesday, this third match day concludes on Thursday, 4 April, with five matches including the crucial clashes, Czech Republic vs. Germany and Hungary vs. Croatia.

Qualification round 4 will follow suit on Saturday and Sunday when the re-matches of third round will be played.

Many matches are either streamed live or can be followed via the EHF live ticker.

The seven group winners, the seven second ranked teams and the best third ranked team qualify for Denmark when the qualification concludes with  rounds 5 and 6 in the middle of June 2013.

The best third ranked team is determined as follows: A ranking of those teams ranked third in each group (a total of seven teams) will be established.

This ranking will include only the results of those four matches of the third ranked team against the teams ranked first and second in the respective group.

The matches against the teams ranked fourth in the group will not be considered.

Click here for a complete overview of all EHF EURO 2014 qualification matches.

This is the preview for the five matches taking place on Thursday, 4 April.

Group 1: Switzerland vs. Portugal; Thursday, 19:30 hrs. local time, St.Gallen

After their home victory against FYR Macedonia in the second qualification round, Portugal are hoping to gain even more momentum in their quest to qualify for the final tournament in Denmark.

But Swiss coach Goran Perkovac has the same objective – which is to win both matches. Swiss top star Andy Schmid and right back Marco Kurth will be back in Perkovac’s squad which lost both matches in the previous rounds.

Group 2: Czech Republic vs. Germany; Thursday, 17:00 hrs. local time, Brno

Expected to be the top duels in this group, the encounters between Germany and Czech Republic have become almost 'all or nothing'-matches as both teams lost their respective matches against Montenegro.

Like at the 2013 World Championship in Spain, Germany's head coach Martin Heuberger left out the experienced 2007 world champions, Holger Glandorf and Lars Kaufmann, counting on his younger players.

However, he has to cope with the absence of his team captain, Oliver Roggisch, who will miss both games due to a knee injury.

The Czech Republic hope for the goals of their THW Kiel world star Filip Jicha in these crucial encounters.

Group 4: Hungary vs. Croatia; Thursday, 20:25 hrs. local time, Veszprem

It has become almost a common place that in almost every qualification or final tournament, like the EHF EURO, the Olympic Games or the World Championships, Croatia and Hungary end up in the same group.

In the main round of EHF EURO 2012 the teams drew 24-all, at London 2012 Hungary lost in the group phase as well as bronze medal match to Croatia, and Croatia had the upper hand once more at 2013 World Championship group phase.

But since the return of their top star Laszlo Nagy, Hungary have improved, and Croatia still miss their regular top scorer Ivan Cupic due to his shoulder injury that he sustained in Spain.

Compared to the World Championship some new faces have appeared in the Croatian squad, and coach Slavko Goluza again did not nominate Ivano Balic.

Both sides count on the atmosphere and fan support in their respective 'handball temples' in Veszprem and Zagreb.

Taking Mate Lekai aside, Hungarian coach Lajos Mocsai can count on his best squad, including Ferenc Ilyes who celebrates his comeback.

Group 5: Sweden vs. Poland; Thursday, 19:10 hrs. local time, Malmö

After missing the qualification for the 2013 World Championship, Sweden have won their first matches in the qualification clearly and top the table alongside with Poland.

The Polish squad with their German coach Michael Biegler made it to the last 16 at the 2013 World Championship when they were beaten by Hungary.

Poland are a squad in transition, focussing already on building a team for 2016 when they will host the Men's EHF EURO.

Sweden are boosted by the international comeback of their Olympic All Star Team player Kim Andersson.

Group 7: Bosnia and Herzegovina vs. Russia; Thursday, 17:00 hrs. local time, Visoko

Can Bosnia cause a major sensation or will Russia continue their inspiring game they played at the World Championship?

This question will be answered in Visoko.

The host lost both previous qualification matches, while the Russians lost a 29:30-thriller against Serbia, but beat Austria.

Russian coach Oleg Kuleshov count on a strong group of Chekhovskie Medvedi players, who have just been eliminated at the VELUX EHF Champions League Last 16 by THW Kiel.

Bosnian coach Dragan Markovic, who knows that these matches pose the last chance to stay in the race for Denmark, has some goalkeeper problems as Adnan Sabanovic is out due to an injury and Enid Tahirovic quit his career.


TEXT: Björn Pazen / ts
 
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