“We have to figure out a way to win in the next games,” said coach Lino Cervar after he saw his Croatia side lose their first game of Germany/Denmark 2019, last night against Brazil.
The loss had come after a five-game winning run in the preliminary round, complete with a mainly Croatian 12,000-capacity crowd pushing his team on at the Olympiahalle in Munich, but in Cologne, the crowd supported the underdogs with the South American nation getting the upset.
The defeat was a small disaster for the great handball nation, who must not lose against co-hosts Germany to ensure their path to the semi-finals is not just a dream. At the last World Championship, France 2017, Germany beat Croatia 28:21 in the preliminary group stage under the guidance of then coach Dagur Sigurdsson, and this match is evenly-poised with the home side currently on five points and the visitors on four.
If Christian Prokop’s side could take the win this evening (20:30hrs), the seven points would seal their semi-final spot with Croatia unable to catch them with one game remaining.
Overall, the teams are split in their historic head-to-head with both teams beating each other 11 times each and drawing four times.
Will Brazil be able to overcome their emotion of beating Croatia last night when they take on European champions Spain this evening (18:00hrs)? Both teams are fighting for their semi-final lives, but Jordi Ribera’s Spanish team will be wary of Brazil who shocked Croatia with a win last night. At France 2017, Spain defeated the South Americans 28:27 as the European team denied Brazil a quarter-final spot.
With six or more goals tonight against Egypt (20:30hrs) Denmark’s classic threat – Mikkel Hansen – will become the tournament top-scorer, joining the departed Kiril Lazarov on 48 goals, but his Danish side will just be happy with a win against their opponents who are out of contention for the final four. The teams last met in a World Championship at France 2017, with Denmark winning 35:28 in the preliminary group in Paris.
Norway will be looking to get the better of Sweden (18:00hrs), with a victory also putting them on six points like their Scandinavian neighbours. In the final round of matches on Wednesday Sweden face co-hosts Denmark while Christian Berge’s Norwegians take on the already-eliminated Hungarians – so a Swedish loss today will make the final day of matches on Wednesday very interesting.