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10.06.2014, 15:44
Nine spots at EHF EURO 2014 still up for grabs
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ROUND PREVIEW: Round 5 of the Women's EHF EURO 2014 Qualification continues with nine matches on Wednesday
 

Nine spots at EHF EURO 2014 still up for grabs

After Denmark recorded a 33:29 victory against Austria already on Saturday in the, so to say, opening match of Round 5, this penultimate stage of the Women’s EHF EURO 2014 Qualification continues with nine matches on Wednesday.

Five teams – Denmark, France, Montenegro, Norway and Russia – have already clinched their berth for the final tournament in Hungary and Croatia in December, and theoretically up to another six spots can already be confirmed on Wednesday.

All matches can be followed with the EHF live ticker.

Group 1: Lithuania vs. Ukraine
Wednesday, 18:30 hrs. local time in Kaunas

If Lithuania, who still wait for their first point in this campaign, win this duel or take home a draw, celebration greetings are sure to arrive from Austria, who will then have qualified even without having to think about the result in their final match against Ukraine on Sunday.

The game in Kaunas, on the other hand, is a must-win one for Ukraine, who won their home match against Lithuania 30:27, if they want to remain in the race for the EHF EURO 2014. 

Group 2: Slovakia vs. France
Wednesday, 18:00 hrs. local time in Sala

France have a clear record of four wins from four matches and are already qualified for the EHF EURO. Slovakia need at least a draw if they want to qualify for the final tournament already after this round.

The only match the hosts lost in this campaign was the first leg against France (18:25).

If Slovakia lose and Iceland win against Finland, the direct encounter between these two teams on Sunday decides which team will eventually rank second in this group.

Finland vs. Iceland
Wednesday, 19:00 hrs. local time in Karjaa

A win is a must for Iceland, if they want to continue hoping for a successful qualification. The first leg was a clear matter for them which they won 34:18. Despite a transition the team is currently undergoing, Iceland remain the favourites.

However, with only two points on their account so far, Iceland do not have their fate in their own hands.

They must hope for a Slovakian defeat against France, beat Finland and on Sunday they need to beat Slovakia by a difference of at least two goals in order to proceed to the final tournament in Hungary and Croatia.

Group 3: Portugal vs. Czech Republic
Wednesday, 20:00 hrs. local time in Sao Pedro Do Sul

It will definitely be the Round 6 match between Czech Republic and Poland that decides, which of these two teams will qualify for the final tournament.

Both teams have four points each, but Czech Republic won the away match in Poland last October 22:19 and are therefore slightly favoured to advance to the Women's EHF EURO 2014.

However, in order keep this role a victory against Portugal, who are still without a point, is crucial for Czech Republic. The team, which is coached by Jan Basny, won the first leg of this duel 35:20. 

Poland vs. Montenegro
Wednesday, 20:20 hrs. local time in Czestochowa (live on ehfTV.com)

Montenegro will give young guns the chance to gain international experience, which might open the opportunity for Poland to take a win against the already qualified defending EHF EURO champions.

Poland lost the first leg against Montenegro 21:25, but if they win the second, it might give them the necessary boost to overtake Czech Republic and eventually take the second rank in Group 3.

Group 4: Turkey vs. Spain
Wednesday, 19:00 hrs. local time in Cankaya/Ankara

Two wins over Italy boosted Turkey's confidence in March this year, but even though they play on home court, they are still the clear underdogs against the Olympic bronze medallists from Spain, who won the first leg 28:11.

If Spain win, they are through to the EHF EURO 2014, while anything but a win will most likely not be enough for Turkey to keep their chances alive.

Group 5: Slovenia vs. Sweden
Wednesday, 20:00 hrs. local time in Ljubljana

The 'Group of Death' reaches another climax: While World Championship 2013 silver medallists Serbia struggle for their last chance to qualify on Thursday, Slovenia and Sweden can theoretically qualify both for the final tournament, if they draw and Serbia lose against Switzerland on Thursday.

If Sweden, who won the first leg against Slovenia 30:25, win on Wednesday, they clinch their berth for the EHF EURO.

If Slovenia win, they are not confirmed as participants of the final tournament.

Provided that Serbia win against Switzerland, the Round 6 match between Slovenia and Serbia becomes a true final - and potentially all three teams - Sweden, Serbia, and Slovenia - can end up with eight points each.

Group 6: Belarus vs. Romania
Wednesday, 18:00 hrs. local time in Mogilev

The two upcoming duels Belarus vs. Romania are real play-offs for the one open spot in this group.

Both sides have lost both matches against Norway, so both start at zero.

Due to their bigger international experience Romania are the favourites, but Belarus proved their home strength against Norway despite their 24:32 defeat.

Group 7: FYR Macedonia vs. Germany
Wednesday, 17:45 hrs. local time in Skopje (live on ehfTV.com)

Following a win and a defeat against Russia in their first two qalifiers, a victory against FYR Macedonia would grant Germany the EHF EURO ticket to Germany.

The Macedonians, on the other side, have lost both duels against Russia, but put enormous pressure on the four-time world champions when they faced them on home court.

Hence Germany are aware of the task that lies ahead. If Germany win both duels against FYR Macedonia, they will be confirmed as group winners.

If they lose in Skopje, the decision on the second spot for the final tournament in Hungary and Croatia will be taken in the re-match on Saturday.


TEXT: Björn Pazen / ts
 
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