Major EHF EURO tests all over Europe

Björn Pazen / cg

Major EHF EURO tests all over Europe

In only 11 weeks, on 9 January 2020, the biggest ever Men’s EHF EURO will throw off in Sweden, Norway and Austria. Almost all 24 participants will grab their chance to test for the pinnacle event in the upcoming days, during the last so-called international week in 2019. 

One venue for the EHF EURO 2020 – which will be hosted in seven cities – will see test matches this week: Stadthalle Graz in Austria, where group A, with Croatia, Serbia, Belarus and Montenegro, will be staged. On Friday and Sunday, EHF EURO hosts Austria will lock horns with the Netherlands and Serbia in Graz – so Serbia can get an early impression of what they can expect in their EURO arena.

While the Dutch (EHF EURO debutants in 2020) have another test on Tuesday against the Poland B team, Serbia will face Slovenia on Sunday.

Sweden, the silver medallists at the EHF EURO 2018 in Croatia, will not play their two test matches against Iceland on Friday and Sunday in the EHF EURO arenas in Malmö, Gothenburg or Stockholm. Rather, they have chosen their ‘regular’ test match arenas in Karlskrona and Kristianstad.

The third EHF EURO 2020 host nation will not play at home, as Norway are part of the Golden League series, which takes place in Denmark this time around. The 2019 World Championship silver medallists will be the only side at the Golden League matches in Aarhus and Aalborg who were not part of the EHF EURO 2018 semi-finals. The remaining participants are Denmark (world champions and fourth ranked in Croatia), France (bronze medallists at the EHF EURO 2018 and the 2019 World Championship) and defending European champions Spain. 

The system for the Golden League has changed, as the number of playing days was reduced from three to two. On Friday, Norway versus Spain and France versus Denmark (the rematch of the 2016 Olympic final in Rio) will be the ‘semi-finals’ in Aarhus, before the winners and losers meet on Sunday in Aalborg. France, Denmark and Norway will potentially meet again in the EHF EURO 2020 main round in Malmö.

Croatia and EHF EURO 2016 champions Germany will duel in a special double header, as not only the men’s teams will face each other twice, but the women’s sides. On Wednesday, the first matches will be staged in Arena Zagreb, then on Saturday the two matches will headline the so-called “German Day of Handball” in the already sold-out arena in Hannover, attended by almost 10,000 fans. The men’s teams are expected to be opponents in the EHF EURO 2020 main round in Vienna.

In addition, some other EHF EURO participants will have crucial tests ahead. 

On Saturday and Sunday, Belarus will face Lithuania twice, while Ukraine will lock horns with Tunisia (preparing for the African championship) on Thursday and Saturday. North Macedonia will test against Turkey and Georgia on Friday and Saturday, while the two EURO teams Switzerland and Czech Republic will meet in Switzerland on Friday and Saturday.

Three EHF EURO 2020 sides will leave the European continent: Russia, Poland and a Spain B team will take part in a tournament in the Argentinean city San Juan from Wednesday to Friday. 

The Hungarian Federation decided not to have test matches, but to use the international week for a training camp with national team coach David Davis. 

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