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Men’s EHF EURO 2022 analysis: Strong right backs and efficient goals

EHF / Björn Pazen

What were the keys for the Swedish triumph and the sixth consecutive final for Spain? Which defence and attack tactics were most successful? Who are the players for the future? A team of experts made a deep dive into all statistics and analyses of the Men’s EHF EURO 2022 in Hungary and Slovakia – and have just published their qualitative analysis on the tournament.

Using all official championship statistics, EHF Methods Commission member Monique Tijsterman together with the expert observations from a team of Hungarian observers (Dr. Zoltán Marczinka, Dr. Csaba Ökrös, János Hajdu/all EHF Master Coaches and Zoltán Kólya/CEO My Handball System Hungary Kft.) analysed individual players, teams and their attack and defensive styles. This article focuses on the attack.

Sweden were the experts for true thrillers, although they did not need any extra-time to win the trophy, they were the only team with four main round victories - and their last three matches ended by one-goal-margins each: the 24:23 in the “main round final” against Norway was exactly the result they needed to proceed to the semis, then they beat 34:33 on the way to the final, which they then won by a buzzer-beating penalty 27:26 against Spain.

The results of the attack analysis: 

One of the general keys for a successful attack was crossing with the wing, back court and line player. Individual skills are getting more and more important, as well as the change of static and mobile attacking.

And the use of the line player is a must, either to open a gap for breakthroughs of back players or to create scoring opportunities from a close range, often assisted by bounced passes.

Besides, the variety of faking techniques increased - and was used for breakthroughs in a significant way - as well as the number of in-flight shots and goals, mainly from the wing positions and by passes either from backs or from the opposite wing.

Looking upon the different attacking positions, the impact of the right back increased, either as a shooter or by assists for the wing players, often by behind-the-back-passes. This, combined with the fact that most of the centre-backs are right-handed, made the right backs become highly efficient throughout the Men’s EHF EURO 2022. Three of the ten best scorers of the EHF EURO 2022 were right backs.

But still, easy goals are still the best way to win - counter-attacks (78% efficiency) and fast throw-offs (79%) top the efficiency ranking. The advantage of using 7-against-6 often turned into a disadvantage, as teams using this tactic conceded many empty-net goals by fast throws-offs or even straight by the opponent’s goalkeeper. On the other hand, the experts found out that using an additional court player becomes more and more a normal tactic, not only for situations, when a player is suspended. Teams such as Portugal and Denmark have established this tactic. Being in player majority situations, most of the teams used a second line player in attack.

Looking upon the goal distribution, the numbers of strikes from wings and by counter-attacks increased by three percent. Funny enough, jump shots were proven not to be the best way to score for a back players, as the defenders had adapted to them, the experts’ conclusion: keep your feet on the ground, if you want to score!

The next article on the analysis will focus on defence.

Read the full Men’s EHF EURO 2022 qualitative analysis here or in the document below.

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