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01.08.2014, 10:54
Confidence all around ahead of Men's 20 EHF EURO Semi-finals
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PREVIEW: Denmark, Germany, Spain and Sweden do not dare to blink before they face in the penultimate phase of the European Championship in Austria
 

Confidence all around ahead of Men's 20 EHF EURO Semi-finals

It is crunch time at the Men's 20 EHF EURO 2014 in Austria.

After 40 matches have been played and the main round has come to an end, Denmark, Germany, Spain and Sweden on Friday night (1 August) take to the court in the semi-finals.

At 17:30 hrs (local time) Denmark play against Sweden, and at 20:30 hrs Germany face Spain. Both matches take place in the Tips Arena in Linz and are streamed live.

There is reason for confidence among all four teams as the 'handball generation 1994' from these four countries has been dominating internationally for two years.

At the Men's 18 EHF EURO 2012, when the same generation of players took to the court, the same teams reached the semi-finals. Back then Sweden beat Denmark 35:28 and Germany, the eventual European champions, beat Spain 42:37.

At the Youth World Championship 2013 only Croatia broke into the four nations' phalanx as they first beat Sweden in the quarter-final and then Germany in the semi-final.

Denmark, nevertheless, beat them in the final and Germany took bronze ahead of Spain.

A close and even game

At the Men's 20 EHF EURO Denmark have won all their five matches to date.

"We are very satisfied with the results we achieved so far at the EURO. Our goal has always been to win a medal and we have tried to give it all we have in every match," says Danish assistant coach Michael Bruun.

"Now we are looking forward to the semi-final against Sweden, a team we know quite well. I think it'll be a close game which will only be decided in the last few minutes."

His counterpart, Swedish coach Jan Karlsson, was quoted on the Swedish Handball Federation's website: "We definitely have a chance against Denmark. The teams know each other well, so we know both their strengths and their weaknesses.

"It will certainly be a very even and tough game. Denmark are a good team, but so are we."

Germany avoid the term 'favourites'

German head coach Markus Baur expects an equally tough fight when his team meets Spain.

"We know that we can beat them. Spain are a very robust team with a physically strong defence. But we know as well that we have to play at our very top level in order to beat them," he said on dhb.de.

"Spain already lost two games, we haven't given away a single point yet - that's why others call us the favourites. I wouldn't call us favourites, but as I said: If we play at top level, we can beat them."

Spain coach Isidoro Martinez sees his team ready for the penultimate step: "(After the last main round match against Serbia) I told my players that we kept our medal hopes alive.

"I know they are tired and that it is a demanding tournament, but this dream will give us the energy to continue competing at the highest level."

Following the semi-finals Saturday, 2 August is a rest day for the four teams. The bronze medal match (at 15:30 hrs) and the final (at 18:00 hrs) take place on Sunday, 3 August.


TEXT: EHF / ts
 
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