TOURNAMENT PREVIEW: The Women's World Championship 2013 throw off in Serbia on 6 December, and Europe's squads can be expected to dominate the final tournament
Twelve teams from Europe out for glory
After having hosted the previous two EHF EURO events in 2012, at the end of this week the handball spotlight will once more move to Serbia as the Balkan nation welcomes 24 teams for the Women's World Championship 2013.
The tournament will be played in four cities with matches taking place in two halls in the capital city, Belgrade, as well as in Nis, Novi Sad and Zrenjanin.
Hosts, Serbia, and Japan throw off the tournament in Nis on 6 December, and the event will culminate in the final which is being played on 22 December in Belgrade's imposing Kombank Arena.
With South Korea topping the podium in 1995, it is almost two decades ago that a non-European team triumphed at a Women's World Championship, and it seems unlikely the eight-tournamemt long winning streak of European teams will be broken this time.
Defending champions, Norway (seeded in Group C), and EHF EURO 2012 gold medallists, Montenegro (seeded in Group A), are once again among the hot contenders for a medal, and so are Hungary, the bronze medallists of the EHF EURO 2012 and the hosts of the upcoming EHF EURO, together with Croatia, in December 2014.
The official video for the Women's World Championship 2013
The Serbian team on home court is always a force to reckon with, as the men's team proved by winning silver in January 2012 and the women's squad by its fourth place in December 2012.
A notable name missing are four-time world champions Russia, who won the tournament in 2001, 2005, 2007 and 2009, but this time lost to Netherlands in the European play-offs in June 2013.
Overall there are twelve European teams participating, making up exactly half of the nations present.
Besides Montenegro, Netherlands and France have been drawn to Group A, Denmark and Serbia are the two European representatives in Group B, Norway meet Poland and Spain as their European opponents in Group C, and Hungary, Germany, Romania and Czech Republic form the biggest European contingent in Group D.
The first four teams of each group qualify for the Last 16 which will be played in Belgrade and Nis on 15 and 16 December. The remaining eight get a chance to play the President's Cup.
The quarter-finals will throw off on 18 December, the semi-finals take place on 20 December, and the bronze medal match and the final is being played in 22 December.
TEXT: EHF / ts
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