Gold and Tokyo await the 'Hispanics'
The Spanish handball team and Croatia fight for the two biggest prizes in the European final
MADRID, 25 Jan. (EUROPA PRESS) –
The Spanish men's handball team will seek to put the golden finishing touch on their great European with the achievement this Sunday at the Tele2 Arena in Stockholm (16.30 / La1) of the continental title against a Croatia with which they will also fight for the other jackpot to achieve the Olympic ticket for the Tokyo Games.
17 days after starting with Latvia the journey of their defense of gold conquered two years ago in Zagreb, the 'Hispanics' have achieved the goal of being one step away from reissuing it and making history again after reaching their third continental final in a row. No one has been able to beat them in this championship on the way to their third final in a row, but the only one who has had any chance of doing so has been precisely their rival in the final.
Spaniards and Croats will see each other again four days after doing so at the close of the second round, a match in which there was not so much at stake and that ended with a tight 22-22. Domagoj Duvnjak had a pitch to have put the 23-22 with almost half a minute to play and Jordi Ribera saved his undefeated in a duel where they came to win six goals.
However, this shock cannot and should not serve as a reference. The two coaches did not fully show their weapons thinking more about the semifinals and the motivation for gold and for Tokyo will be a plus for both of them combined, which beat their Friday duels differently.
Spain showed its solidity to win with some final trouble to Slovenia (34-32), although it practically always controlled the game, while Croatia left the tournament without its third host after a spectacular victory over Norway 28-27 after two extensions, which made clear the degree of competitiveness of Lino Cervar.
These, in return, could pay the physical toll that meant leaving out the Norwegians after 80 minutes, many of them with all their main players on the track. Duvnjak, Karacic, who made 10 goals on Wednesday, and Stepancic, the entire front line, accumulated more than an hour on his legs, while much less played Luka Cindric, who did not do it in the previous duel against the 'Hispanics' and whose physical state is unknown.
What will not change will be the defensive attitude of the 2003 world champion, who reduced to 23 goals a very offensive team like Norway, and that on Wednesday only allowed one of 7 meters to Spain in the last twelve minutes. Therefore, Spain must solve the hardness behind its rival with the smart game that it offered to the Slovenes, especially in the first half, where he scored 20 goals, and not to concede losses that cause flashing kickbacks.
Behind, the current champion is also showing quite reliable and already taught some of her power in this facet to Lino Cervar, both with 6-0 and with a 5-1 with a stellar Alex Dujshebaev who hindered the powerful first line during many minutes
Spain and Croatia have never seen their faces in the final of a European Championship and the Croats lost their two finals followed by 2008 (Denmark) and 2010 (France). They did cross a world title in 2005, and then, without being a favorite, the Spanish team made history with a great game (40-34) that Captain Raul Entrerríos still survives.
SPAIN: Pérez de Vargas (p), Corrales (p); Maqueda, Fernández, Entrerríos, A. Dujshebaev, Sarmiento, Aginagalde, Solé, Goñi, Figueras, Cañellas, Morros, Gómez, Ariño, Guardiola and D. Dujshebaev.
CROATIA: Sego (p), Asanin (p), Maric, Duvnjak, Hrstic, Stepancic, Horvat, Sarac, Karacic, Musa, Mamic, Cindric, Brozovic, Matanovic, Mandic and Sipic.
– PAVILION: Tele2 Arena in Stockholm.
– HOUR: 16.30 / La1.