Sweden shaken, but in the main round
What a thriller in Bratislava! The very last action of the final preliminary round encounter of group D decided the final main round spot: as the Czechs caused a turnover in their last attack, they missed the victory they would have needed to proceed.
Sweden at least had needed a draw to qualify for the main round – and they got one with the 27:27 result. Although the Czechs only led briefly, they were on an equal level until the end, and were visibly disappointed with the outcome despite picking up their first point ever in an official match against Sweden after six defeats.
The Czechs finish third in the group with three points, equal with Sweden, but the Scandinavians have the better goal difference. Despite the elimination, the Czech fans were celebrating their squad after the final whistle.
- despite the bigger quality and experience of their squad and the 12:11 halftime lead, the EHF EURO record winners had extreme problems against the Czechs, who were on a fully equal level before the break
- boosted by the saves of goalkeeper and Grundfos Player of the Match Tomas Mrkva, the Czechs were patient in attack, while Sweden had to struggle hard for every goal, - but could celebrate the 100th EHF EURO goal by Niclas Ekberg for the 6:5 lead
- in the middle of the second half, the Czech wall started to crumble, the number of turnovers rose, as the efficiency in attack decreased, and in defence they caused too many penalties – but somehow they were back on track at 22:22 after previously trailing by three, thanks to incredible will
- in the final 10 minutes, Sweden constantly took the lead and the Czech Republic constantly levelled the result. The Czechs had the final attack, but lost the ball on the way to the Swedish goal
- the best scorers were Tomas Babak with six strikes for the Czechs and the Swedish duo Lukas Sandell and Hampus Wanne with five goals each
Czech farewell despite two great performances
Just looking at the results, everybody would say “quite normal” – a victory against Bosnia and Herzegovina, a draw against Sweden and a defeat against Spain, but the truth behind the numbers is different.
Rastislav Trtik’s team impressed their fans with three above-par performances in Bratislava. Although the first 45 minutes against the Bosnians were not their strongest, they proved twice that they can stand the heat against world-class players. They were close to beating Spain, they were equal with Sweden and deserved to win.
Trtik underlined his tactical knowledge, and the team worked as a team, backed by incredible goalkeeper Tomas Mrkva - but finally the ‘hosts’ in Bratislava had to say farewell on Monday night with tears in their eyes.
We played good in defence and it was like we planned. We knew that the Czech team is strong physically and we are really happy to get into the main round. We can play better in counter attack and attack, now we have to see what we can do better.
It is really sad and it is difficult for me to talk about the match. We are really proud of all players, we fought bravely, but it is difficult when you face a team like World Championship silver medallists.