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Handball World Cup: strong opponents for DHB – that’s how it works in the preliminary round

Status: 01/16/2023 3:51 p.m.

Apart from the German group, there were a few surprises at the Handball World Cup. It also showed: The main round will not be a walk for the DHB.

Group A: sovereign Spain, surprise Iran

In Group A, the Spaniards, recently runners-up in Europe and third in the last World Cup, have so far lived up to their role as favourites. The Iberians won their first two main round games against Montenegro 30:25 (15:12) and Chile 34:26 (18:15) and spread their goals fairly evenly across the squad – a great strength of Jordi Ribera’s team.

In the last group game, Spain faces one of the big surprises of the tournament: Iran beat Chile in the first group game 25:24 (13:11), and the team around Pouya Norouzinezhad, who is active in Germany, also came forward. very well against Montenegro and are about to enter the main round. However, the Montenegrins are likely to need support for the one against Chile. As expected, Montenegro have a proper bench between the posts with MT Melsungen goalkeeper Nebojsa Simic. With 27 saves, he is the goalkeeper with the second most saved ball in the tournament.

Group B: “key game” between Slovenia and France

France and Slovenia are the only two teams to win in Group B so far. Poland, host country, and Saudi Arabia, foreign country, have therefore remained useless so far. In the direct duels on Monday evening (January 16, 2023), France and the Slovenians will play to see who advances to the main round with four points and has the best chance of reaching the quarter-finals. The winner of this direct duel between two teams so far very convincing should certainly be among the closest contenders for the title.

For the Poles, the objective of the last pool match is to reach the main round after the good performance against France and the very weak performance against Slovenia, in order to at least maintain the theoretical chance of the round of 16.

Group C: How strong are Sweden really?

As expected, the Swedes lead the group with two wins in two games. The European champions and co-hosts haven’t really struggled against Brazil and Cape Verde and will likely have no problem against Uruguay, who have so far had no chance at the bottom of the group . Once the Swedes got into the rhythm game, none of the underdogs had a chance to set themselves up for defeat. In preparation for the tournament, playmaker Jim Gottfridsson’s team faltered against Serbia. As a result, euphoric fans should only really know where the team stands against other title contenders at the start of the main round. Cape Verde and Brazil will play Monday night to see who will score points in the main round.

Group D: Are Hungary the new Iceland?

Group D includes Iceland, Portugal and Hungary, three teams that prior to the tournament were in the ‘best kept secret’ category when it came to qualifying for the semi-finals. The Icelanders were the highest rated. However, with the Northmen losing to the Hungarians by one goal, Aron Palmarsson’s side can no longer afford to lose if they are to have a realistic chance of reaching the knockout stages. In the last group game against South Korea, Iceland should have no problems.

At the same time, the Icelanders should cross their fingers for the Portuguese in the early evening. Because if the Iberians were to win against Hungary, all three teams would enter the main round with two points and Iceland’s loss to Hungary would no longer be so unpleasant. Incidentally, Hungary’s former best player is experienced playmaker Mate Lekai, who is one of the tournament’s top scorers with nine goals and 13 assists.

Group F: Norway and Netherlands strong

There has never been a game in Group F that ended with less than ten goals difference. The Norwegians and the Dutch have left North Macedonia and Argentina no chance and are already named as opponents of the German group in the main round. In Tuesday’s direct duel, in which the Norwegians are the favorites with superstar Sander Sagosen, it will be decided who will win the group and therefore, barring a draw, enter the main round with the total number of points.

Serbia and the Netherlands secured clear first victories at the World Handball Championship, and favorites Denmark also got a hand. Croatia, on the other hand, had a very rude awakening.

Both teams have played extremely fast so far and should pose real challenges for the DHB team. That shouldn’t come as a particular surprise to the Germans though, as Dutchmen Kay Smits and Dani Baijens along with Sander Sagosen and Magnus Rod are the top scorers for both teams so far, along with many of their teammates, in the Bundesliga.

Group G: full of surprises

That Egypt has a solid handball team is not news. At the last World Cup, the North Africans lost by a hair to Denmark in an epic quarter-final. But the fact that Egypt was so good that they would even finish the Croats with 31:22 (16:12) was at least a little surprise. The team that hasn’t dropped any points so far is a clear candidate for the quarter-finals – and then some. Goalkeeper Abdelrahman Homayed kept 54% of the shots on his goal – an incredible rate.

Also surprising: the USA. At the 26th attempt, the first victory at a world championship was achieved. It also meant that if Morocco didn’t make a splash against the Croats on Tuesday, they would likely miss the main round. For American boys, it would go even a step further. A huge success for a country where handball is almost unknown to anyone.

Group H: Denmark another championship – tension behind

The Danes go into the last group game against Tunisia with a goal difference of +30. The team are world class in all positions and a contender for the title. However, this has never been debated.

Beyond that, anything is theoretically possible. With a narrow victory over the Tunisians, Belgium have the best cards for the main round in their first World Cup appearance. The Belgians could only finish last in their group and be eliminated prematurely if Tunisia managed to create an unexpected sensation against the Danes. Maybe the team with the most home players will even go to the intermediate round with two points. However, that would require a win over Bahrain, who could still reach the next round with a narrow defeat. Bahrain and Tunisia shared the points, in the end the goal difference would be decisive.

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