European domination and Argentinean surpriseArticle
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Eleven European teams proceed to the Main Round of the 2011 Men’s World Championship in Sweden.

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European domination and Argentinean surprise

After 60 of 98 matches played, the Preliminary Round of the Men’s World Championship in Sweden is over. The domination of the European teams is obvious, as eleven of the twelve Main Round participants come from Europe.

The only Non-European nation still in the race is Argentina after their surprisingly strong performance in Group D. They not only beat Slovakia and Chile but also landed a 27:22 sensation victory over host nation Sweden.

Nine of the eleven European teams qualified for the second stage are the same as the ones that went through at the World Championships 2009 in Croatia: France, Croatia, Denmark, Poland, Germany, Hungary, Norway, Serbia and Sweden.

The additional two teams are Iceland, who were not qualified in 2009, and Spain, who back then went to win the President’s Cup. Two years ago the Republic of Korea was the only Non-European team.

But the composition of the Main Round in Sweden is quite different to Croatia. Only two teams won all their five Preliminary Round matches: Iceland in Group B and Denmark in Group C.

Crowds cheer at Danish dominance

Especially Denmark managed to show a great performance, attended by thousands of Danish fans who created home match atmosphere in Malmö.

“We never had more spectators at a home match,” Danish coach Ulrik Wilbek said with a smile on his face after the 34:29 over Croatia in the final duel for group victory.

The Danes also played extremely strong against Serbia (33:27). In the Balkan duel Serbia and Croatia tied – and both enter the Main Round with each 1 point each, together with Denmark, taking four points with them.

With a total of 181, Denmark was also the team scoring most goals in the Preliminary Round, followed by reigning champions France with 159.

France again with top defence

The French team showed an outstanding performance against Germany, defeating their neighbour 30:23, but gave away a possible better Main Round starting point in the very last match against Spain.

After leading 27:21 the final result was 28:28. So both the World Champions of 2005 (ESP) and 2009 (FRA) start with 3 points each into the second tournament stage, ahead of Germany.

The Germans carry no points with them, losing against both main contenders, but beating Egypt, Tunisia and debutants Bahrain.

France had the best defence, receiving only 106 goals, three less than Croatia (109). In total, Denmark had the best goal difference with +64 goals after five matches.

Iceland unbeaten in Group B

Group B was imprinted by the strongly defending team from Iceland, managed to defeat all their five opponents from three continents. As Hungary beat Norway, they go to the Main Round with 2 points, together with Iceland (4 points) and Norway (0 points).

Austria missed the qualification to the Main Round in their World Championship comeback after 18 years. Key match was the surprise defeat against Japan, which seemed to have broken their will.

Austria only won against Brazil. The South Americans were – together with Australia – the only team finishing the Preliminary Round without a point.

Sweden and Poland impress

Another surprise was the disappointing performance of the Slovak team in Group D.

They ended up being the only European team without victory on their account. They gained one single point from a draw against debutants Chile.

In this group Sweden and Poland ended with an equal amount of points. Sweden could live up to their favourite role again by beating Poland in the final clash, after having lost to Argentina before.

All three teams from Group B take 2 points with them to their Main Round matches in Malmö.

Romania with extreme scores

One of the reasons to Romania missing qualification to the next stage was their surprise defeat to  Algeria. It was the match with the lowest number goals in the whole Preliminary Round, with a final result of 14:15.

But Romania was also a participant of the match with the highest number of goals, in their 39:30 victory over Serbia.

President’s Cup

In the President’s Cup Austria, Romania and Slovakia and Tunisia will meet to match up for the places 17 to 20.

Egypt, Japan, Algeria and Korea will not only play for the places 13 to 16 but also for the President’s Cup trophy.

Australia, Bahrain, Chile and Brazil will play for the places 21 to 24.

Main Round

The Main Round matches will be played in Jönköping (22.1., 24.1. and 25.1) and Malmö/Lund (22.1, 23.1., 25.1.). The starting composition is as follows:

Group I in Jönköping

Iceland 4p
France 3p
Spain 3p
Hungary 2p
Germany 0p
Norway 0p

Group II in Malmö/Lund

Denmark 4p
Sweden 2p
Poland 2p
Argentina 2p
Croatia 1p
Serbia 1p

Olympic Games 2012 Qualification

In the Main Round, not only semi-final places are in focus, but also the placement matches 5/6 and 7/8., which are crucial in the Olympics Qualification. The World Champion is directly qualified for London 2012. The teams ranked second to seventh will book their ticket to the Olympics Qualification tournaments in April 2012.

Scandinavians lead top scorer lists

The Northern European teams are in lead in the top scorer’s list after the first stage. Best scorer is Havard Tvedten from Norway with 33 goals, followed by Mikkel Hansen (Denmark, 32) and Bjarte Myrhol (Norway, 30), surprisingly sharing this place with Emi Feuchtmann from Chile.

The shared fifth place is occupied by Iceland, as Alexander Petterson and Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson each have 29 goals on their account, like Marco Vujin (Serbia) and best African shooter Ahmed El Ahmar from Egypt.

Find more information on the Official Website of the Men’s World Championship in Sweden.

TEXT: Björn Pazen