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23.07.2014, 14:50
The winner takes it all – but who will win?
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PREVIEW: Denmark, Germany, Sweden and Spain make up for a favourites’ quartet at the Men’s 20 EHF EURO 2014 in Austria which starts on Thursday. But there are some dark horses ready for a surprise
 

The winner takes it all – but who will win?

16 teams take to the court at this year’s Men’s 20 EHF EURO which starts tomorrow (24 July) in the Austrian cities of Linz and Traun.

According to the participating nations, Denmark, Germany, Sweden and Spain are the declared favourites. However, with France, Slovenia and Austria there are at least three teams in the mix that are ready for a surprise.

Germany, with the same generation of players now competing in Austria, won the Men’s 18 EHF EURO 2012. Denmark are the reigning Men’s youth world champions. Furthermore Denmark have won the Men’s 20 EHF EURO already on four occasions (1996, 1998, 2008 and 2010) and also added silver in 2004 and bronze in 2006 to their tally.

Despite the success, Denmark’s coach Claus Hansen chooses his words carefully: "In many nations this generation of players is very strong," he says, adding that his team’s goal is to reach the semi-final. His player Andreas Hols Jensen opts for bolder words: "I hope we win gold," he says.

For Spain’s head coach Isidoro Martinez Denmark are the favourites: "They have a very talented team, and when it comes to physique and technical understanding, they are brilliant.

Behind them I see Germany, Spain and Sweden."

Spain reached the semi-final at the Men’s 18 EHF EURO 2012 and the Men’s Youth World Championships 2013, but now they are ready for the next step. "We want to play our game and we will fight until the last minute. If we achieve this, we have a good chance to reach the final," says Martinez.

Confident Germany, revengeful Sweden

Germany’s head coach Markus Bauer also names Denmark, Sweden and Spain as the favourites. His player, goalkeeper Jonas Maier, assesses the team’s strengths: "With the success in the recent past we have built a good reputation in Europe.

"We have many good players in the team. However, the most important is that we act and play like one team. That makes us dangerous for every opponent."

Sweden’s coach Jan Karlsson picks Denmark and Germany as the teams most likely to win the tournament.

But two years ago his team lost against Germany in the final of the Men’s 18 EHF EURO, and Karlsson says: "Now it’s time to take revenge for this defeat."

France, Slovenia, Austria – the tournament’s dark horses

Besides the four favourites the coaches names France, Slovenia and Austria as the teams most likely to surprise. "Especially we have to be careful of France," says Denmark’s Claus Hansen.

At the Men’s 18 EHF EURO 2012 France only finished a disappointing 12th. This time their own modestly proclaimed goal is to place among the top eight.

Slovenia ranked fifth at the Men’s 18 EHF EURO 2012, Austria came sixth.

"First of all we want to reach the main round," says Slovenian coach Slavko Ivezic. "A similar result than two years ago, would be a great success for Slovenian handball – but, of course, every generation has its very own wishes what it would really like to achieve."

Following its sixth place two years ago Austria’s 1994 handball generation is hungry for more.

"The players are very talented and their attitude is extraordinary. They have the quality to work hard every day and that’s one of the most important characteristics you have to have in professional sport," says head coach Roland Marouschek.

"This team is not strong because we have four ‘players of the century’. It is strong because we have 20 player who can play on a top class level."

Tournament information

The Men’s 20 EHF EURO takes place in the Austrian cities of Linz and Traun from 24 July to 3 August 2014. For more information visit the official website and the event’s Facebook page.

All matches can be watched online. This is the link to matches in Linz, matches in Traun can be watched here.

During the tournament eurohandball.com and the EHF EURO Facebook page will also feature regular reports, features and photo galleries.

Austria also hosted the Men’s 18 EHF EURO 2012 when the same generation of players took to the court. Back then Germany won, Sweden came second and Denmark placed third. Austria finished sixth.

The previous Men’s 20 EHF EURO took place in Turkey in 2012. Spain won ahead of Croatia and Slovenia. Austria had not qualified.


TEXT: ÖHB / EHF / ts
 
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