Hispanics want and must go to Paris via Granollers

They fight for one of the two tickets to the Games, at home, against Slovenia, Brazil and Bahrain


The Spanish men’s handball team faces the IHF Pre-Olympic Championship from this Thursday until Sunday, a tournament that grants two tickets to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games and in which Hispanics are clear favorites to win one of them, in conflict with the unknown and apparently weak Bahrain -first rival-, with Slovenia and with Brazil.

The Hispanics arrived in Granollers on Sunday and on Monday they trained at the Palau d’Esports under the orders of Jordi Ribera, who put together for this Pre-Olympic a group similar to the last European one, but with changes to give a different look to a group which, then, did not perform at the desired or expected level.

On this occasion, the team claims to be prepared, with the lesson learned, and as hosts they arrive at the event with confidence, with pressure and with that obligation to manage emotions and favoritism so as not to fail. The objective is clear; be in Paris 2024. And to do so they must start by winning, this Thursday at 6:30 p.m., against a Bahrain team that arrives with some of its best players sanctioned by the IHF.

On Friday it will be the turn of the match against Slovenia, the most exciting on paper, and the job well done should be confirmed (or celebrated, depending on the results of the first two days) against Brazil. If Spain beats Bahrain and Slovenia, it would have a lot to gain, although fate could cause there to be a final triple tie between Hispanics, Slovenes and Brazilians.

Beyond the conjectures, the Hispanics’ intention is to go game by game, knowing that they must give everything to avoid what would be a major surprise; not being at the Parisian Olympic event. Furthermore, the injuries do not come suddenly and are known, and the group has prepared the event at full capacity.

And there are precedents against all rivals. Bahrain, the Hispanics, had a snack in the 2019 World Cup at the start of the championship, with a comfortable victory of 10 goals and with Ferrán Solé and Álex Dujshebaev leading the national team.

Against Slovenia – Friday’s rival – the most recent precedent was that of the 2023 World Cup in Poland and Sweden, with 26-31 for the Hispanics in a duel tied at half-time, and thanks to the performance between the sticks of the Blaugrana Gonzalo Pérez de Vargas and the scoring contribution of the now absent Kauldi Odriozola, Dani Dujshebaev and Ferrán Solé.

Hispanics have not seen each other with Brazil – against whom they will play this Sunday – since the last Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, held in the summer of 2021 due to the pandemic and in which Spain won the bronze medal. Spain had to come back against Brazil, who took the first half of the match but were overwhelmed by the great reaction of Jordi Ribera’s team after the break.

The coach introduces changes to the call for this very important Pre-Olympic. On the one hand, he does not mention two players and, on the other, he replaces the injured with Viran Morros and Ferran Solé – incorporated in the middle of the continental event to replace Miguel Sánchez-Migallón and Kauldi Odriozola -.

He calls back two veterans, absent in Euro 2024, such as Gedeón Guardiola and Antonio García and, in addition, he trusts the young Javier Rodríguez to reinforce the pivot position.


GOALKEEPER: Gonzalo Pérez de Vargas (Barça), Rodrigo Corrales (Telekom Veszprém KC) CENTER: Ian Tarrafeta (Pays d’Aix Université Club) RIGHT SIDE: Jorge Maqueda (HBC Nantes), Álex Dujshebaev (Industria Kielce), Imanol Garciandia (OTP Bank – PICK Szeged) LEFT SIDE: Joan Cañellas (Kadeten Schaffhausen), Viran Morros (Pfadi Winterthur), Agustín Casado (Telekom Veszprém KC), Antonio García (Fraikin Granollers), Daniel Dujshebaev (Industria Kielce) RIGHT FAR: Ferran Solé (PSG Handball), Aleix Gómez (Barça) LEFT FAR: Ángel Fernández (Limoges Handball), Daniel Fernández (TVB Stuttgart HB) PIVOT: Adrià Figueras (C’Chartres Métropole Handball), Abel Serdio (Orlen Wisla Plock), Gedeón Guardiola (HC Erlangen ), Javier Rodríguez (Barça)