First internationals of new year as EURO 2022 qualifiers continue

EHF / Björn Pazen

As France, Germany, Portugal, Norway, Slovenia and Sweden will be part of the Olympic qualification tournaments in the middle of March, when rounds 3 and 4 of the EHF EURO 2022 qualification were originally scheduled, those teams will play their next EURO qualification matches this week, right before the start of the World Championship. In addition, some postponed matches from the first two rounds will be played.

In terms of national team competitions, the year 2021 starts in Minsk, Zrenjanin and Porec on Tuesday. Ten games will be carried out up to Thursday, including the rematch of the EHF EURO 2020 final, Spain versus Croatia, in the EURO Cup.

Serbia vs France
Tuesday 5 January, 17:00 CET, live on

  • this is the opener of group 1, as all matches in rounds 1 and 2 were postponed
  • Serbia missed qualifying for the World Championship, while for France it is the first official match with coach Guillaume Gille leading as successor of Didier Dinart
  • France have to replace top star Nikola Karabatic (torn ACL)
  • both sides missed the main round of the EHF EURO 2020. France finished 14th and were lucky to earn their ticket for the 2021 World Championship
  • France have won all official matches against Serbia, latest at the 2019 World Championship in Germany (32:21)

Austria vs Germany
Wednesday 6 January, 13:45 CET, live on

  • Germany won twice in their opening qualifiers in November, against Bosnian and Herzegovina and away in Estonia. Austria won their only qualifier so far against Estonia
  • an overall of nine players are missing in the German team, including the three newly crowned Champions League winners with THW Kiel – Hendrik Pekeler, Patrick Wiencek and Steffen Weinhold – who cancelled their participation in the EURO qualifiers and the World Championship due to family reasons
  • Vardar left back Christian Dissinger will have his comeback in the German national team after more than four years
  • on the Austrian side, left back Nikola Bilyk and right back Janko Bozovic are ruled out due to injuries
  • Germany won the last duel with Austria, in Vienna during the EHF EURO 2020, clearly

Estonia vs Bosnia and Herzegovina
Wednesday 6 January, 18:30 CET, live on

  • both sides have zero points in their account so far, but Bosnia and Herzegovina only played one match
  • Estonia have never qualified for an EHF EURO final tournament, while Bosnia and Herzegovina were part of the EHF EURO 2020, but did not make it out of the preliminary round
  • the sides are meeting for the 11th time overall. So far, Bosnia and Herzegovina have won five times, Estonia three times and twice they tied. The home side has only won three times in this pairing
  • Estonia arrived from the qualification stage 1, beating Luxembourg

Faroe Islands vs Czech Republic*
Wednesday 6 January, 21:00 CET, live on

  • the double header was planned to take place in November, but had to be postponed
  • the teams have never met in an official match
  • Faroe Islands still wait for their first ever win in the final EHF EURO qualification stage – their balance is two draws and 28 defeats in 30 matches so far
  • Czech Republic have qualified for 10 EHF EURO tournaments so far
  • at the end of 2020, Czech Republic beat Slovakia 28:21 in a test match

*Match is postponed

Portugal vs Iceland
Wednesday 6 January, 20:30 CET, live on

  • both sides have won their respective qualifiers so far – Iceland against Lithuania; Portugal versus Lithuania and Israel
  • Portugal had their best ever EHF EURO result in 2020, finishing in sixth position and earning a place at the Olympic qualification tournaments
  • Iceland have not missed any of the 11 EHF EURO final tournaments held since 2000. Their highlight was the bronze medal won in 2010
  • Iceland beat Portugal in the EHF EURO 2020 main round, but finally finished in 11th position
  • Iceland have to replace their top star and Champions League 2020 finalist with Barcelona, Aron Palmarsson, due to Achilles problems

Netherlands vs Slovenia
Wednesday 6 January, 18:15 CET, live on

  • Netherlands won the only match played so far in this group – a tight 27:26 victory against Turkey in November
  • Netherlands had their debut at the EHF EURO in 2020, finishing 17th
  • Dutch centre back Luc Steins (now PSG) missed the VELUX EHF FINAL4 last week in Cologne due to a COVID-19 infection
  • Slovenia had their second-best result at the EHF EURO 2020, finishing fourth, after their silver medal in 2004
  • the coaches – Ljubomir Vranjes for Slovenia and Erlingur Richardsson for Netherlands – have faced each other in the Bundesliga with their former clubs, Flensburg and Berlin
  • the sides duelled on the way to the EHF EURO 2020, when Slovenia took a close 27:26 win away and a 30:23 home victory

Turkey vs Poland
Wednesday 6 January, 17:00 CET, live on

  • Poland won three of four previous official duels with Turkey – the last two quite clearly (30:20, 32:21), but those were more than a decade ago
  • Turkey have never qualified for an EHF EURO final tournament
  • it will be Poland’s first qualifier for the EHF EURO 2022
  • Poland missed a ticket for the EHF EURO 2018 and finished 21st in January 2020
  • Poland received a wild card to be part of the 2021 World Championship in Egypt, due to being co-hosts of the 2023 event together with Sweden

Belarus vs Norway
Tuesday 5 January, 15:30 CET, live on

  • Belarus have not played any EHF EURO 2022 qualifiers, while Norway won their first 39:24 in Italy
  • the sides faced each other in the 2016 and 2018 EHF EURO tournaments and Norway won both encounters
  • in total, the Norwegian balance against Belarus is four wins, no draw and no defeat
  • joint 2020 hosts Norway took their first EHF EURO medal in January, winning bronze
  • Norwegian superstar and EHF EURO 2020 top scorer Sander Sagosen just became EHF Champions League winner for the first time, with THW Kiel
  • Belarus were part of the last four EHF EURO final tournaments, finishing in 10th position three times

Italy vs Latvia
Thursday 7 January, 20:30 CET, live on

  • Latvia made their EHF EURO debut in January 2020, while Italy’s only participation at a final tournament was in 1998, as the hosts
  • the only duel so far between the sides was in 2010, when Latvia beat Italy 36:32
  • Italy started the EHF EURO 2022 qualification campaign with a 24:39 defeat against Norway, while Latvia’s first matches had to be postponed
  • Latvian giant Dainis Kristopans was part of the VELUX EHF FINAL4 2020 with his new club Paris, but missed the final
  • Italian top star and goalkeeper Domenico Ebner (from German club Hannover-Burgdorf) is infected with COVID-19 and might miss this match
  • Italy just lost a test match against Switzerland 23:29

Montenegro vs Sweden*
Wednesday 6 January, 18:00 CET, live on

  • new Sweden coach Glenn Solberg (NOR), who took over from Kristjan Andresson after the EHF EURO, started his mission victorious with two wins against Romania and Kosovo in November
  • Montenegro had mixed emotions in their qualifiers start – first they beat Kosovo, then lost clearly, 27:36, in Romania
  • Sweden have a very positive balance against Montenegro, winning six of eight previous duels, but Montenegro won the last two matches on home ground – including the major surprise in 2012, when the Balkan side eliminated the record EHF EURO champions on the way to the World Championship in Spain
  • besides injured goalkeeper Mikael Appelgren, Sweden have to replace left back Lukas Nilsson and newly crowned EHF Champions League 2019/20 top scorer Niklas Ekberg, who cancelled his participation in the World Championship and EHF EURO qualifiers due to private reasons

*Match is postponed

Croatia vs Spain
Tuesday 5 January, 17:15 CET, live on

  • in their first EHF EURO Cup match, Croatia beat Hungary 31:27, while Spain lost 29:32 in Hungary
  • Croatia will have to replace two of their stars due to injuries: Luka Stepancic and Igor Karacic, who are also ruled out for the World Championship
  • without their players who were part of the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in Cologne in December, Spain won a preparation tournament in Qatar, beating Asian and South American champions Qatar and Argentina and drawing with African champions Tunisia
  • Spain won the EHF EURO 2020 final 22:20 against Croatia in Stockholm

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