Summary: Norway, Sweden and Spain add points
Group II take to the court again on Friday 21 January, as Spain look to extend their winning streak and grab two more points in their bid to defend their title.
- Spain defeat Russia 26:25 in a nail-biting finish; Sweden cruise to 28:18 win against Poland; Norway show their form in a 28:23 win against Germany
- download the Home of Handball app on iOS or Android and follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and Twitch
- listen to the official EHF EURO podcast from the (Un)informed Handball Hour
- find out how to watch the tournament wherever you are
Sometimes you have to win exactly those matches, when you want to proceed. We still have not reached the semi, but we can seal it against Norway. We are unbeaten for 17 matches, this is a great story. We can go through the gate on Sunday, but our coach always tells us to keep the feet on the floor.
That wraps up tonight's action. As usual, we'll be back tomorrow from 10:00 CET with more news, analysis, features and of course match coverage.
Group II is starting to shape up now. Spain have six points, Norway and Sweden four, Germany and Russia two, and Poland zero. With two matches to play, Poland cannot progress, but the other teams are all still in the running for the semi-finals.
Read the match reviews to find out how each looked this evening.
22:03 | FULL-TIME
GERMANY 23:28 NORWAY
The last time these two met was at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, when Germany won 28:23. Today, the score is reversed, and Norway add two points to their main round tally. That could prove helpful in the coming days.
Erik Toft came into his own in the second half, scoring five of his second goals in the second 30 minutes and earning himself the Grundfos Player of the Match award.
Johannes Bitter is back on, but five goals in five minutes is possibly a little too much for Germany.
With time running out Germany move to a seven-on-six attack.
The match is becoming more physical as it goes on, and as Norway extend their lead to five. After that unfortunate own-goal earlier on Johannes Bitter came off and Daniel Rebmann on in the German goal, but he's not having any luck so far against a series of powerful shots from the Norwegians.
Alfred Gislason has just taken a timeout - with 14 minutes to play. now is the time to put on the pressure.
Norway seem to be trying to pick up the pace in attack and a 3:1 run in two minutes has given them a 17:14 lead. One of those goals was almost saved, but bounced off Johannes Bitter's foot into the goal as he sank to the court after saving it.
21:10 | HALF-TIME
GERMANY 12:14 NORWAY
A win - or even a draw - for either of these teams could prove important in the coming days, and so it's no surprise that it's a tight match so far. For Norway it's a complete contrast to last night's 42:31 drubbing of Poland, and both goalkeepers are tracking above 35 per cent in efficiency. Here's what our journalist Adrian Costeiu has to say.
When two of the best four attacks in an EHF EURO meet, one would expect goals galore, right? Well, not precisely. At least in the match between Norway and Germany. It might have something to do with the two goalkeepers – Germany’s Johannes Bitter saved nine shots, while Norway’s Torbjoern Bergerud had seven saves. But it’s still anyone’s game, despite Norway looking slightly better when talking about depth and experience. Certainly they will need more from Sander Sagosen, who scored twice from six shots in the first half. One thing’s certain, though, that this game is crucial for both sides.
In another defensive match - we've had a few this tournament - it's Norway with the advantage. Julian Köster nets his first of the match to close to 10:12, and Christian Berge calls his first timeout.
Over seven minutes have passed since Germany last scored and Norway have taken an 8:6 lead. It's time for a timeout.
When things were going better, this was glorious.
Germany, so far, are having the better day.
This Sander Sagosen shot went in but he's missed three and Germany lead 6:5.
Germany's top scorer Johannes Golla is the first to find the net today, and five minutes in has scored twice. Germany have had a very solid start.
Last match of the day and it should be a cracker from a snowy Bratislava. Germany and Norway both have two points - Germany from the preliminary round, Norway from last night.
- Norway have the best attack in the competition, after scoring 42 times against Poland on Thursday. That performance improved their overall tally at the EHF EURO 2022 to 138 goals, for an average of 34.5 goals per game
- seven of Norway’s players are currently plying their trade at club level in the German Bundesliga, giving them intricate knowledge about their opponents
- the two sides have met in 53 matches, including friendlies, with Germany taking 36 wins. These victories included the last two games, with the latest coming at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in July 2021, 28:23
One more match left - go to Twitch now for our live statistics and watch-along show before Germany face Norway.
19:27 | FULL-TIME
POLAND 18:28 SWEDEN
Tobias Thulin is named Grundfos Player of the Match after 12 saves (40 per cent). At one point he was on a 50 per cent rate. But the win is really a team effort, with 10 Swedish players scoring and Emil Mellegard, Hampus Wanne and Fredric Pettersson all netting four times.
Poland just couldn't find a way past them and will now be out of contention for the semi-finals. Sweden are very much in the running.
Poland's lowest-ever score at an EHF EURO was 18, in 2012 against hosts Serbia. They have five minutes to score two and beat that. The pace has slowed a bit with Sweden now more than confident of the win.
This is not getting any better for Poland - it's 21:10 to Sweden with 17 minutes still to go. One of the Polish fans in the stand just tied his scarf over his eyes. Evidently it's all got a bit too much.
Andreas Palicka is getting to sit back and relax tonight - Glen Solberg has chosen to play SC Magdeburg goalkeeper Tobias Thulin, who has made five saves for 45.5 per cent.
18:40 | HALF-TIME
Yesterday, Poland conceded 42 goals but scored 31. Today, they've managed just six in the first half as Sweden have restricted their opportunities.
This is the lowest number of goals Poland have ever scored in one half in 54 matches at the EHF EURO.
Poland’s hopes of progressing to the semi-finals are virtually over after this first half, as there is little hope of coming back against Sweden. The tournament started excellently for Poland, with two wins, but they are heading to the third loss in a row, with another disappointing outing after yesterday’s painful 11-goal defeat against Norway, one of their worst at the EHF EURO 2022. Sweden are looking better and better, especially in defence, where they prevented Poland from scoring for more than 12 minutes in this first half, also forcing a whopping 11 turnovers in the first half.
This match features two of the tournament's top scorers. Arkadiusz Moryto is currently second in the standings, with 32 goals including two tonight; Hampus Wanne has scored 31, including four tonight. They're both still trailing Kay Smits, with 36 goals and a match in hand.
With 22 minutes gone, Poland lead 10:5 and Poland keep turning over the ball - despite six saves for 40 per cent by Mateusz Kornecki.
This is an excellent goal by Arkadiusz Moryto, but with six turnovers in the first 13 minutes Poland are making too many mistakes. Sweden would be leading by more than the two goals they currently are, but Mateusz Kornecki is doing well between the posts.
In the first minutes it's a Jim Gottfridsson and Lukas Sandell show, with the two combining for Sweden's three goals and a couple of other missed shots. Michal Olejniczak has scored one for Poland.
Sweden have got Max Darj and Fredric Pettersson back for tonight's game after they previously tested positive for Covid-19. That could make the world silver medallists even more dangerous for Poland, who are fighting to stay in contention.
Throwing off next, it's Poland vs Sweden. Poland suffered a big loss to Norway yesterday - despite scoring 31 goals - and the question is how well they will be able to bounce back. Sweden come off a win against Russia.
- Swedish left wing Hampus Wanne is the second top goal scorer of the competition, with 28 goals, eight fewer than the leader of the standings, Dutch right back Kay Smits
- this will be Poland’s last chance to contend for a semi-finals berth, as they will be eliminated if they lose. They have a four-point gap behind Spain and Sweden, with only two games left after Friday’s match
- the two sides met 26 times in competitive matches, with Sweden taking 12 wins, as opposed to Poland’s 10. However, Sweden have won just once at the EHF EURO – 28:26 in 2020 – in the last six games
Watch that last penalty effort by Igor Soroka - so unlucky for Russia. This win really bolsters Spain's chances of the final weekend, although they are not yet home and dry.
17:03 | FULL-TIME
RUSSIA 25:26 SPAIN
What a tense last couple of minutes. Spain kept hold of possession as Russia defended hard. When Spain finally lost the ball, with Victor Kireev saving Antonio Garcia's shot, Velimir Petkovic instantly called a timeout with eight seconds left on the clock and the score at 25:26.
Russia took the ball to the other end, and Daniil Shishkarev tried to shoot but collided with Angel Fernandez as he did so. The referees decide to go for a video replay and award a penalty!
Igor Soroka steps up and shoots - and in trying to avoid Gonzalo Perez de Vargas the ball ricochets off the post. Spain win, their seventh in a row and extending their unbeaten streak to 17 EHF EURO games.
Spain have taken the lead - can they stay ahead? Russia are still fighting.
While Spain are now playing with Gonzalo Perez de Vargas in goal, Victor Kireev retains shot-stopping duties for Russia.
And with 10 minutes on the clock Angel Fernandez equalises!
Spain are back to within a goal, after Russia took a four-goal lead. All it took was a couple of fast breaks led by Aleix Gómez, and Velimir Petkovic calls a timeout. Russia must dig deep against a team who have proven time and time again they are strong in the closing moments.
Russia came out of the dressing room aggressively and, backed up by Victor Kireev, pulled out to a three-goal lead. It's danger time for Spain, who must react soon to make sure Russia don't run away with the match - although there's one thing for sure, they have the experience to come back.
Every day at this tournament so far the goalkeeping has astounded us and this afternoon is no exception. At half-time, Victor Kireev is on eight saves (40 per cent) while Rodrigo Corrales has saved nine (45 per cent).
16:05 | HALF-TIME
RUSSIA 11:12 SPAIN
After stuttering yesterday against Sweden, Russia look stronger today against the defending champions. They have stayed in touch by punishing Spain's mistakes and moving fast down the court when gaining possession, and they're not out of it. But what does EHF journalist Adrian Costeiu think?
Okay, so this was pretty good for Russia, especially in defence, where they managed to keep Spain to only 12 goals scored. Credit to an amazing performance from goalkeeper Victor Kireev, who saved eight shots, six of which were one-on-one with his opponents. Spain boast a slight lead, but their depth is better than Russia’s. And they should improve that 46 per cent attacking efficiency which is totally uncharacteristic for the reigning champions. It’s still Spain’s game to lose at the break.
Speaking of Victor Kireev, you have to watch this!
Nobody has scored for five minutes - a combination of great saves at both ends of the court, and mistakes. Victor Kireev continues in the same vein by saving an Aleix Gómez penalty, and Russia lead 9:8.
After just under nine minutes, Spain take their first lead at 4:3. But it was Russia who had the better start, forcing a couple of errors from their opponents and taking the chance to score. By now, things are pretty even.
They're about to throw off.
Remember, Spain are top of the group II rankings with four points - two from the preliminary round, and two from beating Germany on Thursday. A win today would significantly increase their chances of reaching the semi-finals - again!
Not too long until throw-off. As a reminder, here are a few facts about the first game today, between Russia and Spain.
- if Spain win, they will be the second team to qualify for six consecutive semi-finals in the competition, after Croatia between 2004 and 2016
- defensive specialist Gedeon Guardiola and back Eduardo Gurbindo will tie Joan Cañellas and Alberto Entrerrios as the fourth-most capped Spanish players in the history of the EHF EURO, with 44 games each. Cañellas is currently out due to Covid
- Spain won the last four competitive games against Russia, two of which came at the EHF EURO, 30:27 in 2012 and 25:23 in 2016
We want to see your moves. If you've been inspired by the likes of Nebojsa Simic or Kay Smits, join in - details below or click here.
A couple more positive tests have been reported.
France's coach Guillaume Gille is isolating. Assistant coach Erick Mathé will take over for the coming matches.
Danish right wing Hans Lindberg has also tested positive.
Before lunch, a heart-warming EHF EURO story. Among the hundreds of Icelandic fans who are enthusiastically supporting their team in Budapest is artist Karl Guðmundsson, a handball fan who is the subject of an upcoming documentary. Guðmundsson, or Kalli's art, is partly inspired by handball and the sport will feature heavily in the documentary. Read more about his extraordinary story.
A brief round-up of today's Covid-19 news so far:
Russia's Daniil Shishkarev is testing negative and out of isolation, which is a big plus for the team ahead of tonight's match with Spain.
The Netherlands have announced their goalkeeper Bart Ravensbergen has tested positive, which is a massive blow - he has performed very well to date, and was key to their win against Portugal that took them to the main round. With second-choice goalkeeper Robin Schoenaker also in isolation, the Dutch are rushing replacement René de Knegt to Hungary. De Knegt plays for Green Park Handbal Aalsmeer and has made seven international appearances. Goalkeeper coach Gerrie Eijlers is also likely to take the court again against Montenegro.
With Spain missing Joan Cañellas and Ian Tarrafeta, centre back Daniel Sarmiento is on his way to Slovakia. He's an experienced member of the Spanish team, so should slot in easily. Sweden's Max Darj, Niclas Ekberg, Björn Sätherström and Daniel Pettersson remain in quarantine.
The top five goals from last night are out, with plenty of big shots among them.
Germany vs Norway will be our Match of the Day this evening, with a statistics deep-dive followed by a watch-along on Twitch with guests Martin Strobel, Bent Dahl and Rúnar Sigtryggsson. One club that will be watching closely is THW Kiel, whose squad features players from both squads including Germany's Rune Dahmke and Patrick Wiencek, and Norway's Sander Sagosen and Harald Reinkind. At least we know one thing: someone from the Zebras will end the match smiling.
Germany's youngest player, 21-year-old Julian Köster, is an up-and-coming star of the team. While the 200cm-tall centre back might be new to the squad, he has already made an impact and was named Grundfos Player of the Match in their final preliminary round match against Poland. Look out for him on the court against Norway this evening.
EHF journalist Björn Pazen has the story.
This morning's feature interview focused on Croatian Ivan Martinovic, who was originally set to make his EHF EURO debut in 2020 before disaster struck. But he's back on the court in Hungary and although Croatia's tournament has maybe not gone exactly to plan, Martinovic himself is impressing - he is the team's second top scorer after Ivan Cupic after four matches. EHF journalist Courtney Gahan caught up with the right back to find out more.
Yesterday was a good day for Montenegrin sporting success. In the morning, European time, tennis player Danka Kovinic knocked out US Open champion Emma Raducanu in the second round of the Australian Open - and then in the evening, Montenegro's handball team continued their EHF EURO dream with victory against Croatia.
So we rather like that they're supporting each other virtually from opposite sides of the world.
Spain could take a huge step towards their fourth consecutive final weekend today if they beat Russia in the first match on court. They are the only team in group II with four points, after last night's win against Germany.
Poland have zero points following their 11-goal loss to Norway, but the other four teams in the group are all on two points and there's everything to play for. Here are tonight's fixtures, and the preview for the day.