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31.10.2014, 12:01
Finland challenge world champions Spain
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ROUND PREVIEW: Round 2 of the EHF EURO 2016 Qualification throws off with three matches on Saturday
 

Finland challenge world champions Spain

One draw and 12 home victories – this is the briefest of summaries of Round 1 of the Men’s EHF EURO 2016 Qualification which was played on Wednesday and Thursday this week.

Already on Saturday (1 November) the next three matches follow, and Round 2 finally includes all 28 teams vying for a spot at the final tournament in Poland, as Ukraine and Russia start their campaigns after the match between those two, originally scheduled for Round 1, was postponed to April 2015 because of the political situation.

Another eleven games are played on Sunday, 2 November. Rounds 3 and 4 will be played in April/May 2015, followed by the final stages in June 2015.

The two top-ranked teams from each group and the best third-ranked team overall book tickets to Poland.

A live ticker is available for all matches, Slovakia vs Sweden will furthermore be streamed live on ehfTV.

Group 3: Slovakia vs. Sweden / Saturday, 18:00 hrs in Bratislava

Slovakia’s head coach Zoltan Heister gave some young talents a chance in the match against Slovenia on Wednesday, and for nearly 50 minutes the youngster put up a hard fight before they eventually lost 25:31.

Sweden in their opener left Latvia without a chance and started the EHF EURO 2016 Qualification with a 33:23 defeat.

In their quest for a ticket to the final tournament in Poland, Slovakia know that they need to win their home matches, but Sweden, the 2012 Olympic finalists, are a tough nut to crack, not only, but also because their top striker Kim Andersson is back with the team.

Group 3: Latvia vs. Slovenia / Saturday, 17:05 hrs in Dobele

Can Dianis Kristopans lead Latvia to a win against Slovenia?

After having scored eight times against Sweden on Thursday, it is for sure that the Tatran Presov back court ace carries a lot of responsibility for Latvia on his shoulders.

However, after their clear opening defeat against Sweden (23:33) and because they lack the international experience Slovenia have, Latvia are not the favourites in this game.

If Slovenia and Sweden win their respective second matches, the wheat could be separated from the chaff quite early in this group.

Group 7: Finland vs. Spain / Saturday, 17:05 hrs in Vantaa

In previous years Finland faced teams like Luxemburg, Cyprus or Italy in their EHF EURO Qualification campains.

On Saturday a different calibre comes to Finland as the team challenges reigning world champions Spain, which without doubt makes up for an extraordinary situation for coach Mikael Källman and his players.

It can be expected that they get taught another lesson international handball, after Finland lost 18:30 in their opener against Germany on Wednesdy is expected, but as Källman says: “We are here to learn and to enjoy every second of those matches.”

Spain are the clear favourites in Vantaa. They easily beat Austria 27:16 on home court and are eager to continue their series of EHF EURO qualification matches with only one defeat (against Croatia in 2011) and 12 wins in their last 13 matches.


TEXT: Björn Pazen / ts
 
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