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18.06.2017, 06:49
Three tickets still up for grabs
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ROUND PREVIEW 2: Both of Group 4’s tickets for the EHF EURO 2018 in Croatia will be decided in Round 6's remaining matches on Sunday, along with the best third-ranked side
 

Three tickets still up for grabs

When the last seven of the 84 qualification matches for the EHF EURO 2018 take place on Sunday, only three spots for Croatia will remain to be decided – both of Group 4’s places and the ticket for the best third-ranked side.

To determine the best third ranked team, only the matches against the sides ranked first and second in the respective group will be taken into account.

On Sunday, many matches will focus on the final group ranking – which is a crucial factor when it comes to the draw event in Zagreb on Friday 23 June. The teams that finish first in their groups will be in Pot 1 or 2, while those that place second and the best third-ranked side will be in Pots 3 and 4.

The match between FYR Macedonia and Czech Republic will be live on ehfTV and the EHF EURO Facebook page.

GROUP 1
Hungary vs Netherlands, Sunday 18 June, 19:15 local time

Everything is decided in Group 1 after Hungary clinched their berth for Croatia on Thursday by way of a 35:23 victory in Latvia.

Regardless of any results in the final qualification round, the table ranking is already confirmed, with Hungary finishing in second position, one rank ahead of the Netherlands. The Dutch lost their chance to fight for a ticket to Croatia in Round 6 when they were defeated 24:36 in Denmark on Wednesday.

Denmark vs Latvia, Sunday 18 June, 20:15 local time

The only goal for the Danes is to finish this qualification phase unbeaten – thus they need a draw or a win against the Latvians, who still have zero points in their account.

Though coach Nikolaj Jacobsen again gives young players the chance to step into the spotlight, the favourite role is clearly marked – and the statistic speaks clearly in Denmark’s favour. Since the first Men’s EURO in 1994, the Danes have not lost a single qualification match on home ground. The only draw occurred in 1993 against Croatia.

GROUP 2
Poland vs Romania, Sunday 18 June, 14:30 local time

Romania started EHF EURO 2018 Qualification brilliantly with two wins, but after three straight defeats, the Spanish-born coach Xavi Pascual’s team is already out of the running for Croatia.

Not even the ticket for the best third-ranked team is possible, as points from this match will not add to their tally toward calculation for that place.

On the other hand, Poland will finish in third only if they win by a goal difference of six or more, or, if Romania score less than 23 goals, a distance of five.

But this situation is not what the World Championship 2015 bronze medallists were out for when they started along the road to Croatia, and third place will be small consolation for missing the EURO.  

Belarus vs Serbia, Sunday 18 June, 16:00 local time

A draw is enough for the hosts of Sunday’s match to finish on top of this group after their surprisingly clear 36:27 away win in Serbia.

Head coach Iuri Chevtsov’s newly-built Belarusian team was one of the major surprises of this qualification round – and claimed a deserved fourth ticket for a EURO after 2006, 2014 and 2016 in Round 5.

Losing only one match so far – the opener against Romania – shows the strong level they are on.

On the other hand, Serbia need to beat Belarus to snatch first position, but in the end, the ticket to Croatia (booked with their draw against Poland on Wednesday) was more important to them than the final ranking.

GROUP 4
Iceland vs Ukraine, Sunday 18 June, 18:45 local time

Both encounters in this ‘group of death’ will – due to the time difference – throw off at the same time, so there is nothing to wait for, the teams must just play. 

After the 24:27 defeat in Czech Republic (who tally six points), Iceland (four points) are under pressure, as they do not have their fate completely in their own hands.

If Iceland win, and at the same time the Czechs and Macedonians (with five points alongside Ukraine) draw, then Iceland will lose the direct calculation against FYR Macedonia.

But in this case, Iceland would have four points toward the calculation for the best third-ranked team, and would therefore make it to the final tournament.

On the other hand, Ukraine need to win, as they lose on both direct calculations against the Czechs and the Macedonians. A draw is only enough for them to qualify for the final tournament if FYR Macedonia lose at home against the Czechs.

FYR Macedonia vs Czech Republic, Sunday 18 June, 20:45 local time, live on ehfTV and on Facebook

Three weeks after the big party in Skopje, when the Champions League heroes from HC Vardar were welcomed by 150,000 fans, the Macedonians need support from the stands if they want to book their fifth ticket to an EHF EURO – and the fourth in a row after 2012, 2014 and 2016.

As usual, Kiril Lazarov, the top scorer of the competition with 48 goals so far, carries the hopes of the whole country into the Round 6 clash.

The Czechs are one point ahead of the hosts of Sunday’s match, but have still not qualified for Croatia.

FYR Macedonia clinched their berth for the EURO 2016 in Poland in the final match, which may be a good omen – not to mention it was on home ground against the Czech Republic, with a final score of 32:28.

In the last two EURO Qualifications, FYR Macedonia only lost two home matches – against France and Spain.

GROUP 5
Germany vs Switzerland, Sunday 18 June, 15:00 local time

Germany are the confirmed winners of this group, while Switzerland still wait for their first point. Even Germany’s line up for Sunday, with more than 10 regular players absent, does not change their role as favourites.

After being awarded best player of the German Bundesliga for the fifth time, Swiss Andy Schmid will try to influence the match – but no one expects a close final result like that of the first leg, when Germany took a narrow victory at 23:22.

The only aim of the Germans is to finish the qualification with their sixth win in their sixth match.


TEXT: Björn Pazen / cg / ts
 
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