Handball WM 2017: Deutschlands „bad boys“ gegen Kroatien im „Gruppen-Finale“

Handball WM 2017: Deutschlands „bad boys“ gegen Kroatien im „Gruppen-Finale“ - Foto: France Handball
Handball WM 2017: Deutschlands „bad boys“ gegen Kroatien im „Gruppen-Finale“ – Foto: France Handball

Handball WM 2017 Frankreich: Vor den „K.O.-Spielen“ ab dem Achtelfinale der Handball-Weltmeisterschaft steht in der Gruppe C das Endspiel um den Gruppensieg zwischen Deutschland und Kroatien in Rouen an. Der DHB-Auswahl von Bundestrainer Dagur Sigurdsson reicht ein Remis für den ersten Rang. Kroatien muss gewinnen, um im Achtelfinale nur den „kurzen Reiseweg“ nach Paris zu haben. Der Gruppen-Zweite tritt in der Runde der besten 16 Teams in Montpellier an.

19.01.2017 – France Handball / SPORT4FINAL / Frank Zepp:

Handball WM 2017 Frankreich: Nicht nur in der Gruppe C sondern auch in der „Parallel-Gruppe“ D fallen die letzten Entscheidungen für das Achtelfinale. Dänemark steht schon als Sieger und Katar als Vierter fest. Schweden und Ägypten spielen den zweiten Platz aus.

In den Achtelfinals spielen in Überkreuz-Vergleichen zwischen der C- und D-Gruppe die Ersten gegen die Vierten sowie die Zweiten gegen die Dritten gegeneinander.

Group C, Rouen, Kindarena – 14:00 Chile vs. Saudi Arabia

If Chile win, they could make history, by making it to their first eighth-final of a World Championship. If the match ends in a draw or the Saudis win by up to three goals, Chile have to hope for a Belarusian defeat against Hungary to proceed. If both Belarus and Chile win, it will come down to goal difference between the sides. If Saudi Arabia win by four or more goals, they have the same fate to hope for a Hungarian win later.

The poor Saudis have lost four players due to injuries (and all four matches) so far, but still Croatian-born coach Nenad Kljaic is optimistic: “We can make it to the eighth-finals. This is what we will fight for.” Chilean team captain Erwin Feuchtmann is eagerly awaiting the match after two clear defeats against Germany and Croatia: “We have the most important game in the history of Chile handball ahead.” Thanks to their 28:23 against Belarus – their first ever preliminary round win and victory against a European team – Chile are in the better position.

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17:45 Germany vs. Croatia

Four wins each on their account, a clean record for both sides – and a handball ‚classic‘ ahead. The match between Germany vs Croatia will decide the top position of Group C in Rouen. It is the duel of the 2003 (Croatia) and 2007 (Germany) World champions, and the duel between the current European champions Germany and the 2016 bronze medallist. And the already sold-out duel in the Kindarena lifts the chances of the winner to proceed to the final weekend of this World Championship in Paris. The winner will play their knock-out stage match(es) in Paris, the losers have to travel far south to Montpellier.

In terms of statistics, all facts speak for the Croatians. Looking at the matches of major events (European and World Championships, Olympic Games), the balance is seven wins for the Croats, one draw and one single victory for Germany, which dates back to the EURO 2002. Friday’s clash for the group win at Rouen is the re-match of the 2003 World Championship final (34:31) and the 2004 Olympic final (26:24, both won by Croatia), when the former golden handball generations of both sides locked horns – including today’s Croatian assistant coaches Petar Metlicic, Ivano Balic and Venjo Losert. The last time, both sides clashed was in the placement round of the 2015 World Championship in Qatar, when again the Croatians won, this time 28:25. This was – so far – the only German defeat against a European team at World Championships since Dagur Sigurdsson became the head coach in 2014.

Nearly half of the players of Croatian and German teams are teammates: Domagoj Duvnjak (CRO) plays for THW Kiel like Andreas Wolff, Rune Dahmke and Patrick Wiencek. Luka Stepancic (CRO) and Uwe Gensheimer both arrived as newcomers last summer at Paris Saint-Germain. Zeljko Musa (CRO) and Finn Lemke build the middle block at German club SC Magdeburg, Jakov Gojun (CRO) plays together with Paul Drux, Silvio Heinevetter and Steffen Fath at Fuchse Berlin and finally Tobias Reichmann (GER) plays for Champions League winner Kielce in Poland such as the Croatians Manuel Strlek and Filip Ivic.

20:45 Belarus vs. Hungary

Having beaten Chile and Saudi Arabia, Hungary have booked their ticket to the eighth-finals already. But it is the third position which matters for the team of the Spanish-born coach Xavier Sabate. To make it, they at least need a draw.

Belarus (2 points on their account) know the result they need already at throw-off. If Saudi Arabia win, a draw is enough to proceed. If Chile tie or win, and Belarus could – depending on the score – potentially be travelling to Brest to the President’s Cup (like in 2015).

The last time, both sides faced in a major tournament was at the EURO 2008, when Hungary won 31:26. The match will be a special one for Hungarian Iman Jamali, who will face four teammates of his Belarusian club Meshkov Brest.

Group D, AccorHotels Arena, Paris – 14:00 Bahrain vs. Argentina

These two teams never met before in an official competition. It is not surprising, as these two national teams come from two different continents and as the Bahrain team only played one World Championship before 2017, in 2011 in Sweden.

After matchday four of the group stage, Argentina are the team that scored the least amount of goals in the tournament (82 from 169 shots, a 49% shot conversion rate). Bahrain are doing just a little better (93 goals from 192 shots, a 48% shot conversion rate).

Bahrain are one of the two teams, with Saudi Arabia, which didn’t block a single shot thus far in the tournament. For their part, Argentina blocked four shots, meaning an average one per game.

17:45 Sweden vs. Egypt

Sweden and Egypt already played each other five times at a World Championship. Sweden won the first four head-to-heads (in 1964, 1995, 2001 and 2003) and the last one ended with a draw (25:25) in Qatar in 2015. These two teams also met in the group stage of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, and Egypt won the tie (26:25).

This game will decide the final ranking in Group D, knowing that both Sweden and Egypt are already sure to finish either 2nd or 3rd. If Sweden win or draw with Egypt, they will take the 2nd spot and will play their eighth-final in Lille Metropole, while Egypt will play theirs in Montpellier. If Egypt win against Sweden, they will finish 2nd and play their eighth-final in Lille Metropole, and Sweden will play theirs in Montpellier.

After the first four games, Sweden have some impressive statistics. Among the 24 teams of this World Championship, the Swedish team is the most efficient one in terms of saving percentage (42%, 61 saves from 146 shots). Sweden also have the second best offence thus far in the tournament (129 goals), behind Germany (131). Furthermore, Sweden and Egypt have an almost identical shot conversion rate (65.1% for Sweden, 64.7% for Egypt).

20:45 Qatar vs. Denmark

The only meeting between these two teams at a World Championship took place in Spain in 2013 and Denmark won by fourteen goals (41:27). Since then, Denmark and Qatar played each other three times, twice in a friendly, at the Golden League (one Danish win and one draw). The last meeting happened during the Rio Olympics group stage and Denmark won it by a very small margin (26:25).

Since the beginning of the tournament, Denmark scored all their 7-meter shots (6/6). By contrast, Qatar have the second worse percentage from the 7-meter line (61%, 14/23) behind Poland (45%). During their first four matches, Qatar and Denmark were given exactly the same number of two-minute suspensions (15). Furthermore, Denmark received one more yellow card than Egypt (9 to 8) and were given one red card (Mikkel Hansen against Bahrain) while Qatar haven’t receive any.

Danish Niklas Landin is the goalkeeper with the largest amount of saves thus far in the tournament (56), tied with Tunisian Makrem Missaoui. But the Kiel goalkeeper has a better saving percentage than the Club Africain player (42% for Landin, 36% for Missaoui).

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