Unbeaten Russia lead 14 European teams into Last 16Article
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PRELIMINARY ROUND REVIEW: The Olympic champions were the only team to win their five group matches at the World Championship as all favourites made it to the knockout stage

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Unbeaten Russia lead 14 European teams into Last 16

The group phase in the first week of the Women’s IHF World Championship 2017 in Germany has passed without major upsets.

The elimination of 2013 champions Brazil on Friday (8 December) was the only unexpected outcome of the preliminary round as the maximum of 14 European nations advanced.

The Last 16 (match schedule) – featuring clashes like Hungary vs France, Denmark vs Germany and Spain vs Norway – will be played in Magdeburg and Leipzig on Sunday and Monday.

Here is a brief look at how the four groups panned out:

Group A (1 Romania, 2 France, 3 Spain, 4 Slovenia):

Romania saw a four-match winning run ended by France (26:17) in their final group game Friday but still finished top of the group. France lost their opener against Slovenia and drew with Spain. Slovenia ended in fourth as Ana Gros became top scorer of the preliminary round with 39 goals.

Group B (1 Sweden, 2 Norway, 3 Hungary, 4 Czech Republic):

Defending champions Norway lost their final match against Sweden (31:28) in arguably the best game of the whole week, and finished runners-up to their Scandinavian neighbours. That result saw Norway landing in the same half of the knockout draw as Russia. Both tournament favourites are now set for a duel already in the quarter-finals. Fifth-place Poland became the only European nation to miss out on the Last 16.

Group C (1 Russia, 2 Denmark, 3 Japan, 4 Montenegro):

Russia had an impressive streak with five straight wins to top the group. The Olympic champions were the only team in the competition to gather 10 points. Montenegro held former champions Brazil to 23:23 on Friday - thanks to a last-minute equaliser by Durdina Jaukovic - to secure fourth place ahead of the South-Americans.

Group D (1 Serbia, 2 Netherlands, 3 Germany, 4 South Korea):

Like Russia, Serbia remained unbeaten but they had two draws – with the Netherlands and hosts Germany. Netherlands, the silver medallists two years ago, lost their opener against South Korea but recovered and outscored Germany 31:23 on Friday. South Korea and Japan from Group C became the only non-European nations to advance to the Last 16.

Photos: IHF/Stéphane Pillaud, Germany2017/Marco Wolf, Nastasja Kleinjung, Sascha Klahn

TEXT: EHF / ew