Spain finish EURO CUP victoriousArticle
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EHF EURO CUP REVIEW: EHF EURO champions beat Slovakia for the second time thanks to a strong defence

Spain were defending EHF EURO CUP champions, but after the defeats to Hungary and Croatia it was obvious early on that Jordi Ribera’s team would not manage to defend the title.

On Saturday night, Spain took their second victory against Slovakia to finish third with four points below EURO CUP winners Hungary and Croatia. The Slovaks remained without a point.

Spain vs Slovakia 27:21 (13:10)

  • after recovering from a slow start to equalise at 6:6, Spain did not give the lead from their hands; the biggest gap was seven goals several times
  • with 11 saves from Slovak goalkeeper Marian Zernovic in the first half, the Slovaks were trailing only by three goals at the break
  • as usual, Spain counted on their movable defence, putting pressure on the Slovak attackers to cause many turnovers
  • even defence boss Gedeon Guardiola scored five goals and goalkeeper Gonzalo Perez de Vargas added one strike into the empty goal to his 13 saves 
  • a total of 13 different Spanish players scored goals, topped by Guardiola and Valero Rivera, while Dominik Kalafut scored seven times for the Slovaks

Tough work ahead for the Slovaks

Alongside Hungary, Slovakia will be EHF EURO hosts in January – and there is still a lot of room for improvement for head coach Petr Kukucka and his side.

Slovakia lost all six matches in the EHF EURO CUP, but the last two close defeats to Croatia (23:26) and to Spain at least gave some hope. As Slovakia missed the qualification for the EHF EURO 2020 after six defeats in six matches, they could not qualify for the 2021 World Championship, and the EHF EURO 2022 on home ground will be their first major tournament since the EHF EURO 2012.

TEXT: Björn Pazen