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EHF EURO

Hosts Hungary open EHF EURO as 20,000 gather in Budapest

EHF / Kevin Domas & Danijela Vekić

Imagine what it must be like to play in front of 20,000 home fans for the opening of the EHF EURO? That is exactly what Hungary will experience tonight, as they play their first EHF EURO 2022 game against the Netherlands tonight in a sold-out MVM Dome in Budapest.

The excitement on Thursday night will also come from Szeged, as Croatia and France will face each other in what looks like another episode of their high-octane confrontations.

GROUP A

Slovenia vs North Macedonia
Thursday 13 January, 18:00 CET, live on EHFTV.com

  • both teams dream of progressing to the main round, especially Slovenia after their fourth place at the last EHF EURO
  • the balance between the teams at the EUROS are in favour of North Macedonia, as they beat Slovenia both times; however the overall historical balance is in Slovenia’s favour with five matches won, including a 10-goal victory at the IHF Men’s World Championship 2021
  • Macedonian player-coach Kiril Lazarov will have his first EHF EURO appearance in his dual role. He can increase his total number of EURO goals for his country, which currently stands at 182
  • in their EHF EURO 2020 opening matches both teams won; Slovenia was better than Poland while North Macedonia beat Ukraine 26:25
  • in the preparation period Slovenia defeated Croatia 33:26, while Macedonia beat Kuwait and Israel

Blaz Blagotinsek, Slovenia line player: “I think we had a good preparation period and we did everything coach Ljubomir Vranjes wanted. We will go step by step. The first match of the tournament is always a difficult one. I expect a good but tough match against North Macedonia. We already played against them several times and they are no strangers to us.”

Kiril Lazarov, North Macedonia head coach: “I believe in my team but we are aware of the hard task in front of us.”

Denmark vs Montenegro
Thursday 13 January, 20:30 CET, live on EHFTV.com

  • Denmark comes after winning the IHF Men’s World Championship 2021 in Egypt and are the favourites in this match
  • the last time these two teams played at the EHF EURO was in 2016, when Denmark won 30:28
  • the 34:20 win at EHF EURO 2004 in Slovenia was the biggest overall win for Denmark in their EURO history
  • Montenegro have only one win so far at the EHF EURO, 22:21 against Serbia in 2020
  • Denmark will play their 93rd match at the EHF EURO, and could hit the milestone of 100 matches this tournament
  • due to Covid-19, Montenegro will miss their head coach Zoran Roganovic and players Milos Bozovic, Nebojsa Simovic and Mile Mijuskovic, Denmark will miss goalkeeper Jannick Green

Nikolaj Jacobsen, Denmark coach: “No-one knows where he is at the moment, as the preparation was tumultuous. We did everything as we expected, we feel ready to start the tournament now.”

Nebojsa Simic, Montenegro goalkeeper: “I don’t know what to expect. I think Denmark is a favourite in this first match and we should try our best on the court. Our main task will be the matches against Slovenia and North Macedonia.”

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GROUP B

Hungary vs Netherlands
Thursday 13 January, 20:30 CET, live on EHFTV.com

  • the two sides have never met in a final tournament at the EHF EURO. While Hungary will be celebrating their 13th participation in the event, 2022 is the second appearance for the Dutch
  • Hungary and the Netherlands have played against each other three times in history, with Hungary winning each time, including two games during the EHF EURO 2018 qualifiers
  • at EHF EURO 2020, Hungary reached the main round while the Netherlands were eliminated after the preliminary round
  • Hungary only played one game during their EHF EURO preparation, defeating Bahrain 36:30. The Netherlands played four times, winning against Tunisia (33:28) while losing to Japan (30:33), Poland (27:33) and Sweden (30:34)
  • Roland Mikler will play his 30th EHF EURO game on Thursday and is set to become the second-most experienced Hungarian player in the history of the EHF EURO by the end of the preliminary round

Istvan Gulyas, Hungary coach: “The last preparation game against Bahrain showed that there was a lot of work left until the start of the EURO. But you can count on us to be present, the players will be extra motivated when they enter the court for the first game.”

Erlingur Richardsson, Netherlands coach: “It is important for the group to go to the next phase this time, and that we join the main round. The game against Hungary will be special, the opening game in front of 20,000 spectators. Of course, Hungary will have the support of their fans, but it is easier to disturb a party than it is to control it.”


GROUP C

Serbia vs Ukraine
Thursday 13 January, 18:00 CET, live on EHFTV.com

  • Serbia and Ukraine have never played each other before
  • after being badly hit by Covid-19 during the preparation phase, Serbia will be missing several players, plus playmaker Petar Nenadic is out due to a muscular problem.
  • this edition of the EHF EURO will be the seventh for Serbia, a side that only made it twice past the preliminary round, in 2012 and in 2018
  • Ukraine made their comeback at EHF EURO 2020 after a 10-year absence and have not won a game in the competition since 2006
  • this game will be the first in a major tournament for Ukraine’s new coach Michael Biegler, as he was appointed in September 2021

Vladimir Cupara, Serbia goalkeeper: “Our team spirit is our strongest point, and no matter who is on the court, we will fight like crazy to make the best results possible. We really hope we can make it to the main round.”

Evgeniy Buinenko, Ukraine centre back: “During the end of the preparation, we checked that what we had worked on was in place, and I have the feeling that it was. We are going to the EURO to fight for victory in every game. We are not going to give up just because we are playing against three great teams.”

Croatia vs France
Thursday 13 January, 20:30 CET, live on EHFTV.com

  • the confrontation between Croatia and France is a EHF EURO classic, as the two sides faced 11 times in the competition since 1994, including once in the final, in 2010.
  • France have won eight of these 11 confrontations, losing only twice, in 1994 and 2008. The last time the two nations met was in the Olympic qualification tournament in 2021, and France booked their ticket to Tokyo by winning the game 30:26
  • France are missing several key players: Nedim Remili and Luka Karabatic suffered injuries during the preparation and Elohim Prandi is out after being stabbed in Paris on New Year's Eve
  • Covid also hit Croatia, with key players Luka Cindric, Domagoj Duvnjak and Marko Mamic likely to miss this opening game
  • Nikola Karabatic will be playing his tenth EHF EURO, putting him second in the all-time list of appearances behind Iceland’s Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson, who took part in 11 final tournaments

Hrvoje Horvat, Croatia coach: “France are coming to the EHF EURO as Olympic champions and they have a wide roster with many great players. They are always favourites for the medal. It’s not going to be easy as we are opening the competition against them. Our rivalry is well known and we look forward to the first match.”

Guillaume Gille, France coach: “There is no need to explain how motivated Croatia will be against us. It is our duty to be ready and to launch our competition in the best manner, as a defeat right from the start would put us in a bad situation. We have a young team, a lot of new players at this level of competition, but we also have a lot of quality in every position.”

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