15 EHF EURO 2024 places up for grabs in final rounds
The race for the Men’s EHF EURO 2024 has reached its fiery climax, with the last tickets to the final tournament in Germany on the line this week. On Wednesday and Thursday, the round 5 encounters take place — all of which are reverse fixtures of round 1. Round 6 will conclude the qualifiers on Saturday and Sunday.
The first tickets to the EHF EURO 2024 were secured in round 4, with Portugal, Austria, Hungary, Slovenia and France all booking thanks to unbeaten runs up to this point, leaving 15 spots still up for grabs. Several teams can join the list of participants this round, but the only ones certain to proceed based on their victories are Norway, Serbia, Iceland and the Czech Republic.
Current title holders Sweden, EHF EURO 2022 medallists Spain and Denmark, and hosts Germany were all directly qualified for the final tournament and continue their EHF EURO Cup 2024 campaigns on Thursday.
- Portugal were among the sides to book their EHF EURO 2024 tickets in round 4 and enter the fifth match with the maximum eight points, leading group 1
- Türkiye are level with North Macedonia on four points but in third position on the table due to goal difference, thanks to wins in their double-header against Luxembourg in rounds 3 and 4
- the reverse fixture between these teams, played in round 1, saw Portugal win 44:27 at home. Türkiye lost the two matches played between the sides before 2023 as well
- Türkiye hope for their first qualification for the final EHF EURO tournament, while Portugal will have their third straight participation at the 2024 edition
- Portugal have scored the third-highest number of goals in the qualifiers, with 137 at an efficiency of 68.2 per cent
- North Macedonia sit in second position in the group with four points, while Luxembourg are fourth with no points, having lost all four games
- when the teams met in round 1 of the qualifiers, North Macedonia won clearly on their home court, 38:24
- North Macedonia’s other points came from a victory over Türkiye in round 2. They lost both games in the double-header against Portugal in the last rounds
- Luxembourg have never beaten North Macedonia in an official match and are participating in this stage of the qualifiers for the first time
- North Macedonia have contested every EHF EURO since 2012 when they achieved their best result to date — fifth
- a last-second one-goal loss to Serbia in round 3 kept Norway from booking their place at the final tournament earlier. The Scandinavian team have six points, lead the group and will qualify if they are the victors against Slovakia
- Slovakia earned their first points in round 4 when they defeated Finland 32:25. They are third in group 2 but are level on points with Finland
- the round 1 encounter between the sides, in which Norway wing Sebastian Barthold scored eight goals, saw Norway win 38:26
- Slovakia’s last win over Norway was in 2002 in the World Championship qualifiers. Both games played in the last decade saw Norway take victories of 10 or more goals
- Norway are one of only four teams in the qualifiers to have conceded fewer than 100 goals, the others being Portugal, Iceland and the Czech Republic
- Fernando Gurich, Slovakia head coach: "We have a tough match against Norway, but we are still in the game for advancing to the European Championship. We will fight and do everything to get the best possible result and please our supporters. For Martin Straňovský, it will be a farewell match with the national team, and I firmly believe that it will be sold out."
- Finland are fourth in the group on two points, while Serbia are on six in second. Serbia will book their place at the final tournament if they win versus Finland
- Serbia reached their record-winning streak of five games when they beat Norway 25:24 in round 3, before Norway ended that streak by taking a 35:25 victory in round 4
- Finland’s two points came with a round 3 win against Slovakia. The Nordic team have never qualified for the final EHF EURO tournament
- the reverse fixture in round 1, which Serbia won 34:24, was the first-ever mutual game between the teams
- Finland goalkeeper Mikael Mäkelä has made the most saves of the qualifiers, with 48 at an average rate of 31 per cent
- The Czech Republic have won three of their four qualifier games so far; they count six points in their account and currently rank second in group 3. A win against third-ranked Estonia will take them to the final tournament
- The Czech Republic traded wins in the double-header against Iceland in round 3 and 4 — 22:17 on their home court before a decisive loss, 28:19, in Reykjavik
- after Estonia beat Israel 30:28 in round 3 to earn their first points, they were defeated by the same margin, 29:27, in round 4
- this round 5 match is the fourth encounter in history between the side; the Czech Republic have won all the encounters. In round 1, the result between the sides was 31:23 for the Czech Republic
- alongside Iceland, the Czech Republic have the lowest number of goals conceded in the qualifiers — 87 — thanks in part to the form of goalkeeper Tomas Mrkva, who has made the fourth-most saves in the qualifiers (44) and the highest rate of all keepers who have faced over 100 shot
I feel optimistic for my team, with the biggest respect of course towards Czech Republic and Iceland, but we know sports is sports and home is home, it's a little bit easier to create surprises at home than abroad. We want to look forward to this and train hard now, these 3-4 days before the game
- Iceland enter the match as the group leaders with six points after three wins and one defeat. Most recently, they beat the Czech Republic 28:19 in round 4
- Israel are ranked fourth in the group with two points. They also won in round 4, beating Estonia 29:27 to put their first points on the board
- Iceland’s goalkeepers are the most effective in the competition — their combined rate of 39.5 per cent is by far the best of any team, and they have made the third-highest number of saves in the qualifiers, with a total tally of 57
- this is the 10th mutual encounter between the sides, with Iceland winning the last six matches. Israel’s last win over Iceland was in 1981. The round 1 clash ended 36:21 for Iceland
- Iceland have played every EURO since 2000, while Israel participated in the final tournament once, in 2002. A victory in this match will book Iceland’s place at the 2024 edition
- Austria are the group leaders with a maximum of eight points and their place at the final tournament is already secured
- Romania have won two games and lost two, giving them four points. They enter round 5 in second position in group 4, with their hunters, the Faroe Islands and Ukraine, two points behind
- when the teams met in round 1, Austria took a 36:32 victory, which was their third out of four games overall against Romania
- Austria are now looking ahead to their fourth consecutive EHF EURO, while Romania are targeting a return after their last participation, in 1996
- the reverse fixture saw two stand-out individuals on the scoreboard, with Robert Weber netting 12 goals and Andrei Nicusor Negru scoring 10. Weber is the fourth top scorer of the qualifiers, with 29 at an impressive efficiency of 82.9 per cent
- this is a critical match for points, with both sides on two and their chances at climbing the table being still alive
- Ukraine won the reverse fixture between the sides 29:25. The Faroe Islands’ points were earned with what was only their second-ever win in the qualifiers, as they beat Romania 28:26 in round 3
- Ukraine aim to return to the EHF EURO after playing the last two editions - following a gap of 10 years. Overall, they have participated in the final tournament seven times
- Faroe Islands have never made it to the final tournament and only managed continued participation in the qualifiers in the last few years. In 2020, they reached this stage for the first time
- Faroe Islands have never won against Ukraine, with Ukraine taking wins in all six previous encounters
- Faroe Islands head coach Peter Bredsdorff-Larsen: "The victory against Romania in the previous round has improved the confidence of the players and the team, and especially on our homecourt in Tórshavn, we have shown that we can compete against even very good teams."
This squad got four points against Ukraine, so there was and is no reason for a change at the moment. Our goal is to win the group. We have already beaten Romania and want to confirm that again in the last qualifying week. But it will not be an easy task. Romania has a broad squad and many players with Champions League experience in its ranks.
- thanks to a surprise win against the Netherlands in round 2 and victories in the double-header against Belgium, Greece are the group leaders with six points ahead of round 5
- Croatia are second in the group on five points, level with the Netherlands, following two wins and a draw in the qualifiers
- the reverse fixture between these sides was Greece’s only defeat so far in the qualifiers, with Croatia recording a decisive result in their favour, 33:25
- Croatia have played every EHF EURO and taken six medals in the event, though they never raised the trophy. Greece have never made it to the final tournament but the three wins so far make this their most successful qualifiers campaign ever
- Croatia have won all four previous mutual matches
- Greece left back Savvas Savvas: "We have a great atmosphere in the team. We are waiting for these two very strong and decisive games against Croatia and Netherlands. We are playing for qualification, we are first in the group and we have to show it on the court as well."
If we are going to play as a team, there shouldn't be any problems and we should win. Of course, it is not going to be easy in Greece: we are expecting a great, heated atmosphere from their fantastic fans.
- a breakthrough EHF EURO 2022 campaign and a strong showing at the 2023 World Championship placed the Netherlands as one of the fastest-rising teams to watch out for, but they complicated their path to the final tournament with a loss to Greece in round 2. They enter round 5 with five points in third
- Belgium have not earned any points in the qualifiers and are out of contention for the final tournament, although their four defeats ranged from score lines of just one to three goals
- when the teams met in round 1 for their first derby, the Netherlands won 25:24, with right back Kay Smits scoring 12 for the Dutch
- Smits is one of the top scorers in the qualifiers, currently sitting second with 31 goals, while his teammate Dani Baijens counts the second-highest number of assists, with 18
- in a total of 15 encounters stretching back to 1961, Belgium have won against Netherlands only twice. Two games ended in a draw and Netherlands won the remaining 11
Tomorrow's match is an opportunity for the players who played less in this campaign to show themselves now. We are in transition and at some point the youngsters take over. Nevertheless, I still have a lot of experience in my squad...I have every confidence in that we will succeed
- Switzerland will enter the court for round 5 as the second-ranked side in the group, with four points gained from two wins, including a 24:23 result against Georgia in round 1. If they win and Hungary beat Lithuania, Switzerland’s place at the final tournament will be secured
- Georgia had their first and only taste of victory in round 3, defeating Lithuania 32:18. They are third on the table with two points
- following the end of a long wait to participate in the final tournament in 2020, Switzerland aim to return to the EHF EURO for their fifth participation overall. Georgia target their maiden participation in the event
- Switzerland goalkeeper Nikola Portner has made the second-most saves in the qualifiers, with 46, while Georgia back Giorgi Tskhovrebadze is the third top scorer, with 30 goals. The two were on court together for EHF Champions League side Montpellier from 2018 to 2020 and Tskhovrebadze just spent a season in Switzerland, playing for Pfadi Winterthur in 2021/22
- the historical record between these teams shows all wins for the home side, with Switzerland taking four wins and Georgia one. This will be only the second match between the two played in Georgia
- Michael Suter, Switzerland coach: “The anticipation is great. As always when it comes to something. You can see that in the team too. Georgia has been on the rise for some time. It's up to us to show them the limits now.”
- Hungary secured their place at the EHF EURO 2024 in round 4 and enter round 5 as the clear group leaders with the maximum of eight points after a perfect qualifiers run so far
- Lithuania won their most recent qualifiers match, defeating Georgia in round 4, but lost all three games before that and count two points in their account. They must win against Hungary to keep any chance of qualifying alive
- Hungary have scored the most goals of the qualifiers, 150, and their goalkeepers have combined for the second most saves, with a cumulative total of 59
- Lithuania back Aidenas Malasinskas leads the list of most assists in the qualifiers, with 20
- Lithuania last beat Hungary in an official match in 1996. In nine games between the sides, Lithuania won only twice, and Hungary were the victors seven times
- Slovenia booked their place at their fifth straight EHF EURO and 14th overall in round 4. They are the group leaders with the maximum eight points following four consecutive wins
- Bosnia and Herzegovina are fighting to return to the final tournament for their third straight time and are in a solid position, with four points (equal with second-ranked Montenegro) in third.
- Bosnia and Herzegovina’s four points came from wins in their double header against Kosovo, while Slovenia beat all the group opponents so far
- Slovenia won the round 1 match between these teams clearly, 28:20. That derby was the first official match between the teams
- Slovenia’s best result at the EHF EURO was their silver medal at home in 2004. They made it to the semi-finals in 2020, placing fourth. Bosnia and Herzegovina finished 23rd in both their participations
We are excited to be back together, but we expect a difficult match. It won't be easy for us, especially away from home. Regardless of the rejuvenated line-up, our goals are clear. We want to win both matches in the qualifiers and go undefeated in the group.
- Montenegro won their first 2024 qualifiers encounters, defeating Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina in the opening rounds, before losing both games in their double-header against Slovenia. They have four points in their tally and sit second
- Kosovo are one of the four teams in the qualifiers who have yet to gain any points, although they are still very early in their history in the event, having participated in the qualifiers for the first time in 2018. They await their first participation in a major championship and must win versus Montenegro to keep that hope alive
- the reverse fixture in Podgorica saw a 29:20 win for Montenegro. In now three official matches between the sides, Montenegro have always been the winners
- Montenegro have played every EHF EURO since 2014 and aim to continue that consecutive streak
- Montenegro will miss their top scorer Milos Vujovic, who has scored 23 goals overall including eight in the round 1 match against Kosovo, due to a one-match ban following unsportsmanlike conduct in round 3
We should not run away from the role of favourites, we are that against Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina, but we have to be extremely responsible in every training and both matches.
- France are another team that are already through to the final tournament, with a perfect record of wins and the maximum eight points placing them as group 8 leaders ahead of round 5
- Latvia have recorded four straight losses in the qualifiers and must win to keep their hopes alive — a task that appears very difficult on paper
- the historical record stands at one win for Latvia and two for France, including a 35:18 result in the reverse fixture in round 1
- France are in the top two for three key team statistics in the qualifiers — they have scored the second-highest number of goals (143), made the most saves (combined 69) and have by far the best save rate (40.35 per cent)
- behind current title holders Sweden, France are the most successful team in the history of the EURO, with three titles. They were runners-up at the World Championship in January and are the current Olympic champions
- both teams enter round 5 on four points, with Poland ahead on the table (2nd) based on goal difference
- their campaigns have seen the opposite scenarios — Poland won their two opening games while Italy lost. Italy then won their two matches in the double-header against Latvia, while Poland were defeated by France twice
- before their round 1 clash, these teams had not met in an official match since 1999. Poland won the round 1 game 30:23, led by nine goals from wing Arkadiusz Moryto
- since their first participation in the final tournament in 2002, Poland have missed only one EHF EURO — in 2018, right after they hosted the event. The years since their last medal, at the 2015 World Championship, saw a dip in form as the team rebuilt
- Italy played one EHF EURO when they hosted the event in 1998. They have never qualified for the final tournament apart from that
- Pablo Marrochi, centre back, Italy: "For us this is a final. We are preparing well and hope it will go well. We come from two consecutive victories against Latvia and this has certainly given us confidence. We are very focused on ourselves and we are thinking about having a good match hoping to be able to get a good result."
EHF EURO CUP
- current EHF EURO title holders Sweden have a perfect record in the EHF EURO Cup 2024, with four wins. Germany are on the opposite side — four consecutive losses and still waiting for their first points
- this will be the 17th official match between Sweden and Germany. The overall balance stands at eight wins for Sweden, seven for Germany and one draw — but Sweden won the last two encounters, with Germany’s most recent victory recorded at the 2016 Olympic Games
- the round 1 game, played in Mannheim, ended 37:33 for Sweden
- Germany line player Johannes Golla is the top scorer of the Cup, with 23 goals, one ahead of his teammate and Best Young Player at the 2023 World Championship, Juri Knorr
- Sweden welcome the return of EHF EURO 2022 MVP Jim Gottfridsson after an injury and will also have several national team first-timers in their midst for this match
- Denmark have won three EHF EURO Cup 2024 games and lost one to count six points in their account, while Spain have lost three matches and won one, to count two points
- Denmark were crowned world champions in January, becoming the first team ever to accomplish a three-peat in the global competition, while Spain took the bronze medal
- Denmark won the reverse EHF EURO Cup fixture against Spain 39:31. In now 26 mutual matches, Denmark have won 17 times and Spain eight. The only draw was the very first clash, in 1975
- 2023 World Championship and Tokyo 2020 MVP Mathias Gidsel is the third top scorer of the Cup, with 19 goals
- the current joint-top scorer of the EHF Champions League, GOG’s Emil Madsen, will make his debut for Denmark
These will be two very important games to close the season. Denmark come with all their players, the team is aware and will work to the maximum during these days because they want this duel. We expect a great atmosphere in Almería and that is always good for us, that strength that they give us every time we play at home.