Sweden and Spain face in the final
After two electrifying semi-finals on Friday evening, Sweden and Spain have reached the final of the men’s Junior World Championship in Bosnia Herzegovina, which will be played on Sunday (28 July).
Both teams already competed in the preliminary round, when the Scandinavians took a clear 37:27 victory.
France – Sweden 24:29 (11:17)
Thanks to a brilliant performance by goalkeeper Peter Johannesson and a strong first half Sweden deservedly clinched the berth, but the final result is not reflecting the run-down of the match.
The Swedes were shaken at periods of the game, but finally they did not fall: Sweden took their eighth victory in their eighth match in Bosnia-Herzegovina and are in a final of a U21 World Championship for the sixth time after 1985, 1991, 1999, 2003 and 2007.
France missed the great chance to reach their first ever World Championship final in any men’s younger age category.
Sweden, junior world champion in 2003 and 2007, were completely dominant in the first half and easily forged ahead after the 4:4 to 12:9 and the half-time score of 17:11.
However, right after the break, Sweden lost their confidence and rhythm and they only had Johannesson to thank for preventing a comeback by France.
The Frenchmen were close to turn the match at 19:21 and at 23:25, but then Sweden decided the match with the score at 26:23 just two miniutes before the end.
Spain – Croatia 36:35 (30:30, 17:12) after extra-time
Like in the 2012 final of the U20 European championship (34:21) the Spaniards defeated Croatia, but this time after extra-time by 36:35 (30:30, 17:12) in a thrilling match.
Croatia were far below par in attack in the first half and trailed 5:11 early – and intermediately Spain even increased the margin to seven goals at 14:7. However, everything changed after the break. Croatia showed passion, started their comeback and at 19:20, the distance had melted to one goal.
Nevertheless, Spain stepped it up a gear and took a 24:21 lead and when Pablo Cacheda netted for 30:27 in minute 59, the deal seemed to be sealed.
Then came a extraordinary minute of handball, with the Croats scoring twice and Spain missed their last shot. With the final whistle Sime Ivic scored to make it 30:30, ´drawing the game level for the first time in the match and left the sides needing extra-time.
And in those ten minutes the lead changed constantly, no team could forge ahead.
The match was eventually decided at the final whistle, after Cacheda scored to make it 36:35 and the last Croatians could only find the crossbar with their final attempt.
The Iberian team will play their fourth final in four years with this team, after the M18 EHF EURO final in 2010 (26:27 against Croatia), the 2011 youth World Championship final (22:24 against Denmark) and the victorious European final against Croatia in 2012.
Spain will play their fifth final át this level after appearances in 1987, 1989, 1995 and 2001.
TEXT: Björn Pazen / cor