All WCh semi-finalists from EuropeArticle
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Sweden, France, Denmark and Spain reach out for the World Championship in Sweden.

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All WCh semi-finalists from Europe

A familiar situation: Four European teams play for the medals in the two semi-finals of the 22nd Men’s Handball World Championship on Friday in Kristianstad and Malmö.

Title defenders France will meet host Sweden while Denmark play against Spain to go to the final, that will take place in Malmö on Sunday.

Main Round Group I

Denmark has been the most dominant team of the tournament so far. The squad of coach Wilbek have won all their eight matches clearly, including their Main Round games against Poland, Argentina and Sweden. Their group victory in Malmö was well-deserved.

Host nation Sweden decided the race for the semi-finals thanks to victories against Croatia and Serbia. But second place in the Main Round Group came at a price: Sweden will have to replace two injured key players before the semi against France: Kim Andersson (hand fracture) and Oscar Carlen (knee injury).

Both Nordic teams could count on their spectators that came in thousands. In their direct encounter the crowd was split up 50:50. The neighbouring countries hope to meet again in the final.

“Spain is physically stronger than us, but we want to defeat them using our speed,” Danish coach Ulrik Wilbek said.

“We are underdogs against France, but we are absolutely satisfied with our results until now. The pressure is on France, and that might be an advantage for us,” Swedish coach Staffan Olsson said.

In the same group, EHF EURO 2010 runners-up Croatia were disappointed with their performance. After being defeated by Denmark in the first stage and then by Sweden in the Main Round, it was clear that they would miss the semi-finals. “We were too weak in attack,” coach Slavko Goluza said.

In the decisive match for the third rank in the group, the Croatians were strong enough to beat Poland. This does not only bring the Balkan team to the 5/6 Placement Match, but with that they also have secured their participation at the Olympics qualification tournament in April 2012.

Poland need to win their 7/8 Placement Match to follow the Croats to the London 2012 qualification. Serbia ended up ranked fifth in the group, ahead of the only Non-European team from Argentina.

Main Round Group II

Also in the second Main Round group the crucial first two places were decided before the last match day. France and Spain marched through this group like a hot knife through butter.

After the two tied in the Preliminary Round, both won all their Main Round matches in an impressive manner. After the two neighbouring nations both ended with 9 points, the goal difference decided that France was number one and Spain number two.

After their great start with five victories in the Preliminary Round, Iceland lost all three Main Round matches. They still secured third place and therefore direct qualification for the Olympics qualification tournament thanks to their early victory over Hungary.

The Hungarians ended on fourth place in the Main Round group and will meet Poland in the crucial 7/8 Placement Match on Friday.

The team from Germany experienced a big disappointment at the tournament. After their Main Round opener victory against Iceland, they hoped for the semis, but then they were beaten by Hungary and Norway and finished last in the group.

No matter what the result of the 11/12 against Argentina will be, this will become the worst German result at World Championships since 1997.

Norway finished before them on fifth place and will meet Serbia for the 9/10 Placement Match.

Olympic Qualification

The World Champion will be directly qualified for the 2012 Olympic Games in London, the teams ranked second to fourth are the hosts of the three qualification tournaments.

All European teams, who after the World Championship did not book a ticket for London or one of these three tournaments, will fight for the last two qualification tournament tickets at the EHF EURO 2012 in Serbia.

Top Scorers

Current top scorer of the World Championship is Serbia’s Marko Vujin (54 goals) ahead of Mikkel Hansen (Denmark, 49) and Bjarte Myrhol (Norway, 48).

Match Schedule


Sweden – France
(Malmö; Friday, 28 January 2011, 18:00 hrs)

Denmark – Spain
(Kristianstad; Friday, 28 January 2011, 20:30 hrs)

Placement matches:

11/12: Germany – Argentina
(Kristianstad; Thursday, 27 January 2011, 18:00 hrs)

9/10: Norway – Serbia
(Kristianstad; Thursday, 27 January 2011, 20:30 hrs)

7/8:Hungary – Poland
(Kristianstad; Friday, 28 January 2011, 18:00 hrs)

5/6: Iceland – Croatia
(Malmö; Friday, 28 January 2011, 20:30 hrs)

Final Ranking President’s Cup:

13. Korea
14. Egypt
15. Algeria
16. Japan
17. Slovakia
18. Austria
19. Romania
20. Tunisia
21. Brazil
22. Chile
23. Bahrain
24. Australia

Find more information on the Official Website.

TEXT: Björn Pazen