PREVIEW: World champion women and double-winning EURO men searching for glory at Beach Handball EURO 2017
Spain want the podium
Both the Spanish men’s and women’s teams have a good spirit in their camps as they prepare to travel to Croatia for the Beach Handball EURO 2017.
Despite being current IHF Women’s Beach Handball Champions, after their incredible victory over hot favourites Brazil in the 2016 final held in Budapest, the women, alongside the men, want to improve their finishes at the last EURO, held in 2015 on home sand in Lloret de Mar, where the women could only finish fourth and the men took silver.
The Spanish women maintain the same block who took the glory in Hungary last summer, but with two important changes as new specialists Judith Vizuete and Jennifer Gutiérrez come in, replacing the injured Ivet Musons and Inma Navarrete for their preliminary group which features Switzerland, Greece, hosts Croatia and Italy.
"We made modifications in our style of play to surprise our opponents,” said women’s coach Daniel Lara ahead of the tournament. “All the teams would like to get a victory against us because we are the world champions, so this is an extra motivation. To face this, we should be humble and work hard.
“We didn’t have any real match to prepare for this championship,” continued Lara. "So, the real obstacle is to be able to start the competition well – just before we travel to Croatia we will play against men teams but it's not the same.
"Our objective is to improve our last European place and be on the final podium.”
Croatia the team to beat
For the men, the objective is even higher. “The objective is always gold,” said men’s coach Jaime Osborne as his side look to turn the tables after Spain were beaten on home sand by Croatia in the 2015 final.
"We have a team that can go to the top, but we will see,” he continued. “We will take it match-by-match and work hard from the beginning.
"Croatia will be the team to beat as this time it is even more difficult because they are playing at home and will be even more stronger in front of their supporters, but if we play against the host team it will mean we are fighting for the medals", explained Osborne.
Lara has made five changes since his last squad, with the most important due to the absence of one of his most important and decisive players; Juan Antonio Vázquez injured his index finger on his right hand during preparation in Torrox (Malaga) last weekend.
However, Manel Cirac, goalkeeper David Bruixola, Manuel Díaz, Alberto Castro and David Mendoza will return after an injury absence.
“It was difficult to select the 10 players because in the preparation we worked with 15 players,” said Osborne. “All had a high level and were ready to be part of the national team.
“Although there are some new faces, we all have the ability to play an important variety of tactical systems. Our team has experience and illusion; it’s a perfect mixture.”
Spain’s men have won the EURO twice, in 2002 and 2006, and finished fifth at the IHF 2016 World Championship. They will face Russia, Netherlands, Poland, Germany and Hungary in their Preliminary Group.
After a training and preparation camp at Alcalá de Henares (Madrid), both Spanish teams will travel to Croatia on Monday morning (19 June).
TEXT: Laia Coll/amc/ts
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