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07.06.2015, 21:30
Spain aim for top spot in Group 7
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PREVIEW: Despite missing several key players out with injury, Spain aim not only to qualify for Poland, but top the group table
 

Spain aim for top spot in Group 7

Spain are on the verge of booking their ticket to the Men’s EHF EURO 2016. If the ‘Hispanos’ win their next game, against Austria on Wednesday, they will ensure their presence in Poland next January

But the main goal for the team is not only to qualify for the next EHF EURO, but to top the Group 7 table.

Spain are currently on top of the table with six points; the same as their biggest group rivals: Germany. If Spain win their remaining games against Austria on 10 June and Finland on 13 June they will secure first place.

Ahead of the final qualification matches Spain coach Manolo Cadenas has called up Naturhouse La Rioja left wing, Angel Fernandez, AX Puente Genil line player Rafael Baena Gonzalez, Barcelona centre back Dani Sarmiento, who returns to the team after being absent since the EHF EURO 2014, and young Pays d'Aix Université player, Iosu Goni Leoz.

Exhaustion and injuries

These two important games take place in a difficult moment for the team, with important players on the mend. Kielce line player, Julen Aginagalde, and Veszprem’s Cristian Ugalde, Chema Rodriguez and Carlos Ruesga, will all be out with different injuries.

"Rafa Baena is a great line player but he has to replace the best line player of the world: Julen Aguinagalde," says Cadenas.

Barcelona’s players have just finished the Spanish Cup, and won the VELUX EHF Champions League in Cologne the previous weekend, so exhaustion is a big factor for many.

"A great team must overcome both the physical and mental fatigue, and it affects both teams equally. The biggest problem for me is that we have less time to prepare for the first match," says Cadenas.

Cadenas knows taking two points in their upcoming meeting with Austria will not be easy:

"Our team has to play at a high level to beat Austria. Since (head coach) Patrekur Johannesson joined the team Austria have worked very well – they qualified for the EHF EURO in Denmark and for the Qatar World Championship.

"It will be difficult to win in Innsbruck. We played against Austria at the last EHF EURO and it was a tough game."

Recovering from disappointment in Qatar

After disappointing results in the last World Championship, where Spain finished fourth, the upcoming EHF EURO is a good chance for the team to return to the top of the podium.

"It feels like the World Championship in Qatar was a long time ago, for the good things but also the bad things. It seems that this is the beginning of a new stage for us.

"I think that not winning a medal, the minimum target we had, makes us aware that we must go forward again and that we need to improve to be the best team. Defeats help raise awareness of the need to improve to be back in the top three."

The Spanish squad for the EHF EURO qualification matches against Austria and Finland:

Goalkeeper: Arpad Sterbik (HC Vardar), Gonzalo Perez de Vargas (FC Barcelona)

Left wing: Angel Fernandez (Naturhouse La Rioja), Valero Rivera (HBC Nantes)

Left back: Antonio Garcia (MOL-Pick Szeged), Iosu Goni (Pays d'Aix Université)

Centre back: Raul Entrerrios (FC Barcelona), Daniel Sarmiento (FC Barcelona), Joan Canellas (THW Kiel)

Right back: Jorge Maqueda (HBC Nantes), Alex Dujshebaev (HC Vardar)

Right wing: Albert Rocas (Naturhouse La Rioja), Victor Tomas (FC Barcelona)

Line player: Rafael Baena Gonzalez (AX Puente Genil), Gedeon Guardiola Villaplana (Rhein-Neckar Löwen), Viran Morros (FC Barcelona)


TEXT: Adria Barrio / cg / ts
 
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