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13.06.2015, 07:00
D-Day for final EHF EURO 2016 spots
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PREVIEW 1: All eyes are on Group 2 for the final day of EHF EURO 2016 Qualification matches on Sunday, with the fate of Belarus and Bosnia-Herzegovina still to be decided
 

D-Day for final EHF EURO 2016 spots

Croatia, Norway and Sweden play for table ranking and pride, while Belarus and Bosnia-Herzegovina fight their respective opponents to take two points and the remaining Group 2 ticket to the EHF EURO 2016.

Group 1: Croatia vs. Turkey / Sunday, 17:15 hrs in Umag

Croatia are already qualified but there is still something at stake for the Balkan side – if they win against Turkey on Sunday, Croatia will take first place in the group ahead of Norway.

Turkey have no chance of qualifying for the EHF EURO 2016, and are unfortunately looking like they could end the qualification phase as one of three bottom-ranked teams overall, which would mean participation in the EHF EURO 2018 intermediate qualification play-offs.

Croatia defeated Turkey by ten goals in their first-leg match last November (22:32). With the home-crowd advantage on their side Croatia are firm favourites to take their final two points and confirm their spot at the top of the table.

Group 1: Norway vs. Netherlands / Sunday, 18:15 hrs in Trondheim

Group 1 is one of few groups where the two tickets are already confirmed. Alongside Croatia it will be Norway that travel to Poland.

Norway could still finish at the top of the group table, but only if Croatia lose against Turkey, which would seem an unlikely outcome at this point.

Though Norway are likely to have more trouble against the Netherlands than Croatia will with Turkey, come Sunday night the Group 1 table is very likely to see the two top teams on ten points each.

Group 2: Belarus vs. Lithuania / Sunday, 16:00 hrs in Minsk

Belarus must win this match to keep their hopes of a spot in Poland alive – but they do rely on Denmark beating Bosnia-Herzegovina to book Group 2’s second spot.

In their first-leg match Belarus recorded a narrow win (28:30). As the home side this time around they have an advantage they did not in November, not to mention having just played a strong match against Bosnia-Herzegovina (22:22 on Thursday) that will surely have buoyed their confidence.

Lithuania will not make it easy, but with so much at stake it is difficult to imagine Belarus letting the two points up for grabs here slip through their grasp.

Group 2: Denmark vs. Bosnia-Herzegovina / Sunday, 20:15 hrs in Brondby

If Bosnia-Herzegovina can produce a miraculous victory over powerhouse Denmark, the second Group 2 position at the final tournament in Poland will belong to them.

After coming so close to victory against Belarus on Thursday – Bosnia-Herzegovina led for most of the match until Belarus came from behind to level the score late and end the game in a draw (22:22) – Bosnia will be determined.

Whether that will be enough to defeat Denmark playing at home is another question.

Though Bosnia-Herzegovina have shown they are capable of strong performances, Denmark are undeniably the favourites ahead of this match.

Group 3: Sweden vs. Slovakia / Sunday, 16:15 hrs in Stockholm

Slovakia are out of contention and Sweden are through to Poland, which means the result of Sunday’s match has no tangible meaning – there is only pride to play for.

The first-leg match between the sides took place in Slovakia, with the hosts losing by 10 goals (23:33).

The odds for another win on Sunday are therefore strongly in Sweden’s favour.


TEXT: Courtney Gahan / ts
 
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