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19.07.2018, 11:10
France the team to beat in Slovenia
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PREVIEW: From 19 to 29 July, the Slovenian city of Celje will play host to 16 young European men’s teams at the Men’s 20 EHF EURO - and fans can follow all the games for free and live on ehfTV.com

» »2018 Men's 20
»Final Tournament
»
 

France the team to beat in Slovenia

From 19 to 29 July, the Slovenian city of Celje will play host to 16 young European men’s teams at the Men’s 20 EHF EURO - and fans can follow all the games for free and live on ehfTV.com. A live ticker for all matches is also available.

A dominant French side with a superstar-in-the-making

Slovenia will see the generation of male players mainly born in 1998/99 all looking to beat the dominant French team who are current Men’s 18 EHF EURO holders, having beaten hosts Croatia back in 2016 in a high-scoring 40:38 final win in Koprivnica.

In addition to that European title, this French generation are also world champions, having won the 2017 IHF Men’s Youth World Championship in Georgia last summer. While Noah Gaudin and Gael Tribillion chipped in with 27 goals each in Tbilisi, all eyes in Celje will be on their centre/left back, Kyllian Villeminot.

For someone so young (20 years old) he has already achieved so much. At the end of this past season he won the VELUX EHF Champions League with his club side Montpellier HB and was not only named MVP at the Men’s 18 EHF EURO, but named MVP in Georgia too, scoring 60 goals last summer as he guided his side all the way to gold, where they beat Spain in the final 28:25 (12:13).

But France coach Johan Delattre will be wary of strong competition from teams in Slovenia, not least Spain who will be looking for revenge through FC Barcelona’s Mamadou Diocou (30 goals in Georgia), Gonzalo Perez from Ademar Leon (34 goals) and Pol Valera from Granollers (35 goals).

Denmark finished third in Georgia after beating Croatia in the final as Emil Laerke top-scored with 58 strikes, followed by Emil Jakobsen (46 goals).

Jakobsen and Laerke were in the Georgia 2017 All-Star Team, along with Russian goalkeeper Maksim Popov, but all three have not been named in their countries' provisional squad lists. However, Edouard Kempf (right wing, France), Luis Frade (line player, Portugal) and Iceland’s right back Teitur Einarsson, who was the top scorer at Georgia 2017 with 66 goals, have been named.

Croatia’s right back Ivan Martinovic was a member of the Georgia 2017 and Men’s 18 EHF EURO All-Star Teams along with Spain’s centre back Ian Tarrafeta, who was also the tournament top-scorer in Koprivnica with 58 goals.



Hosts to be inspired?

For the hosts Slovenia, the Men’s 18 EHF EURO was heart-breaking as they missed out on bronze, losing to Germany after two periods of additional time in the 3/4 Placement Match.

Their head coach Sasa Prapotnik will be hoping the home nation bounce can propel this generation of players to a better position than 13th in Georgia last summer, where Kristijan Horzen (29 goals), Gasper Horvat (24), Tim Rozman (28) and Domen Novak (29) were the main strike threat.

It is also worth keeping an eye out for Slovenia's Miha Kavcic who earned the best defender award at the Men’s 18 EHF EURO in 2016.

One thing is for sure though, fans in Celje – and online via ehfTV – will be looking forward to seeing some of the world’s best players of the next generation in action before the step up fully to the senior team.

Playing format

Back in February, the 16 participants in Celje were drawn into four preliminary round groups of four each, with each team playing each other once across three matchdays (19, 20, 22 July) in two sports halls - Dvorana Zlatorog and Sportna Dvorana Golovec.

The winners and runners-up of each group go through to the main round, while the third and fourth-placed teams go into the intermediate round and eventually play for 9-16 place.

Those teams which finish first and second in the Main Round groups then play-off in the semi-finals, scheduled for 27 July, and then finals day – 29 July.

The groups are:

Group A: Germany (GER), Iceland (ISL), Sweden (SWE), Romania (ROU)
Group B: Slovenia (SLO), Serbia (SRB), Norway (NOR), Israel (ISR)
Group C: Croatia (CRO), Spain (ESP), Russia (RUS), Poland (POL)
Group D: France (FRA), Denmark (DEN), Portugal (POR), Hungary (HUN)

The full playing schedule can be found here.

Follow the Men's 20 EHF EURO

Official website: https://www.m20ehfeuro.com/en/
Official Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Mens20EHFEUROSlovenia/
ehfTV: https://www.ehftv.com/int/league/men-s-20-ehf-euro-2018/785
Handball Federation of Slovenia Twitter: https://twitter.com/rzs_si


TEXT: EHF/amc
 
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