Denmark and Norway complete semi-final line-up at worldsArticle
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MAIN ROUND REVIEW: The two Scandinavian teams join already-qualified Germany and France in the last four of the Men's World Championship 2019 as Sweden miss out on the medal matches

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Denmark and Norway complete semi-final line-up at worlds

Co-hosts Denmark extended their winning streak at the Men’s World Championship 2019 to eight matches on Wednesday night, setting up a thrilling semi-final against defending champions France.

The other host nation, Germany, will face Norway in the second semi-final at the Barclaycard Arena in Hamburg on Friday.

Both France (six times) and Germany (two) are multiple world champions, but neither Denmark nor Norway have yet lifted the trophy - though both teams have been close: Denmark finished runners-up three times, while Norway were the losing finalists to France two years ago.

Battle for semi-final spots went to the wire

While France and Germany were already confirmed as the top-two teams from main round Group I with a match to spare, the battle for the semi-final spots from Group II went to the wire (results).

In the penultimate match in the Jyske Bank Boxen in Herning, Norway defeated Hungary 35:26 - despite 11 goals by Hungarian right back Zsolt Balogh. The result put pressure on the two other contenders for a semi-final berth, leaders Denmark and Sweden, who met in the last game.

Norway’s victory had left Sweden in a must-win situation. And while they still had every reason to believe in the desired result at half-time (13:13), they couldn’t quite keep up the fight for the full 60 minutes and ultimately lost by four goals (30:26) to Denmark, where Mikkel Hansen netted six times to raise his tally to a tournament-leading 53.

Wednesday’s games confirmed Denmark as the group winners with the maximum amount of 10 points, followed by Norway on eight. Sweden remained on six points and will play Croatia in the 5/6 placement match on Saturday.

Still excitement for fans in LANXESS arena

Despite the semi-final spots being locked up, the closing matches in Group I still provided a lot of excitement for the fans in the LANXESS arena in Cologne.

France, who were level with Germany on seven points, lost their unbeaten status as they were downed 23:20 by Croatia, where Zlatko Horvat led with seven goals.

The French defeat handed Germany an ideal opportunity to win the group, as even losing by eight goals against Spain would still do the job for the co-hosts.

But playing in front of their home crowd, Germany went for the victory - and succeeded: the 31:30 final score was their second straight one-goal win, having beaten Croatia 22:21 two days earlier.   

Germany topped the group with nine points, followed by France on seven and Croatia on six. A year after winning EHF EURO 2018, Spain ended the main round in fourth with four points.

Photos courtesy of IHF

TEXT: EHF / ew