European Handball Championship 2014 qualification
Recently finished world handball championship just showed us how can handball be interesting and unpredictable. It seems that the several-years long domination of France might finally be over, when they were beaten by Croatia in the quarterfinals. One of the most dominating nation in sport, Spain, clinched the title with a surprisingly high victory over Denmark in the final. After a marvelous performance against France, Croatia could not pass over Denmark so they fought with Slovenia for the third place, beating them comfortably. After this tournament, all eyes are on the qualifiers for the European handball championship that will take place in Denmark in 2014. We will look at the groups and predict the teams that have the biggest chances of progressing through. Denmark qualified for the tournament as host and as a defending champions, after winning the title last year in Serbia.
The qualification process is divided into two phases based on the teams ranking. After that phase was played during the 2012 on October the second qualifying phase started. A total of 28 teams were divided into seven groups by four, playing home and away games with each other. In this article we will analyze all groups and see which teams have the biggest chances of qualifying for the 2014 European championship.
Since handball is one of the clearest sports out there and one of the very few, where in almost 90% of situations the favorite wins the game, it should not be easy to predict the teams that are going to qualify. Group 1 features recently crowned world champions Spain, Macedonia, Portugal and Switzerland. It is almost obvious that Spain and Macedonia are clearly ahead with class and should have no problems sealing a place in Denmark. However, in group 2 after first two games situation is not that simple. Germany and Montenegro are favorites to advance to the European championship but Czech Republic is trying to put the pressure on Germany and try to mess their calculations. Still, we think that Germany and Montenegro will advance but it is interesting to watch Czech Republic fight for that place.
Just like in group A, the situation in group 3 looks clear. We have France and Norway clear ahead, while Lithuania and Turkey will most likely have to wait some other qualifications to succeed. It is not very interesting in group 4 either, with Hungary and Croatia clear ahead of Slovakia and Latvia. This group is interesting while both Croatia and Hungary are part of the leading handball teams in the world and their encounters will be awaited with much excitement.
Sweden and Poland are ahead and on course in group 5 ahead of Netherlands and Ukraine. The Netherland and Ukraine put on a good fight so far and were not humiliated in a single game but it proves that both Sweden and Poland are just to strong for them. We are sure that in future one of these countries will play a bigger role in the European handball.
Group F is looking out to be the most interesting one. There are three World cup participants involved, with Iceland holding the torch right now. Fourth-placed team at the world cup, Slovenia, will face a strong challenge from Belarus until the end of the qualifications. They already held them to a draw earlier in the process and we can expect a interesting rematch in Slovenia. However, we think that Slovenia will overcome the brave Belarus side and qualify for the championship.
The situation in group 7 is also very interesting but we think that the final result will be as expected. Runners-up from the 2012 EHC Serbia are ahead of Russia but Austria is right behind with equal number of points as the Russians. However, Austria still have to face Serbia and we think that is where Russia will take the advantage. Fourth team Bosnia and Herzegovina is set to miss out a European tournament again, despite having a very respectful team.
European handball does not follow other sports in terms of developing facilities in weaker countries. The same circle of teams is still present at the top and we don’t see that changing any time soon. As we mentioned, handball is still the game where the favorite wins in 9 out of 10 games.