Two months out of the opening match for the Women’s EHF EURO 2018 in France (29 November to 16 December), the 16 participating teams have entered the final preparation phase.
All of them make use of the current national team week which started on Monday, with the head coaches gathering sometimes more than 30 players to test and try and get a feeling for who could make the cut for the 16 that can be nominated for the final tournament.
With the weekend approaching, there are also plenty of test matches scheduled.
The biggest gathering is arguably the Golden League in Denmark that sees the Danish hosts, EHF EURO 2016 champions Norway, current world champions France and Poland competing against each other.
Twelve 2017 world champions are among the players, who have been nominated by France head coach Olivier Krumbholz, but the 60-year-old also takes left wing Constance Mauny and right back Jannela Blonbou to Denmark. The two rising stars were part of the French team that won the Women’s 19 EHF EURO 2017.
For Denmark the Golden League is an opportunity to play against one of their actual EHF EURO opponents, as they will meet Poland also in the preliminary round (4 December, 18:00 hrs in Nantes; ticket for all EHF EURO matches are available here).
The Golden League matches take place on 27, 29 and 30 September.
Double-headers between EHF EURO participants
A few hundred kilometres further south, 2016 Olympic champions Russia have travelled to Germany to play a double-header (29/30 September) against the Germans, now being coached by Dutch Henk Groener.
Russia coach Evgeni Trefilov had almost two weeks to prepare with his players. One of the most notable nominations has been Rostov-Don goalkeeper Galina Mekhdieva, who returns to the national team four years after her last outing.
Double-heasders between Serbia and Slovenia on 26 September (this first match ended 34:31 for Slovenia) and 29 September and between Hungary and Montenegro (28/29 September) are two more encounters in which two teams, which have qualified for the EHF EURO, face each other.
Netherlands test against Japan
The remaining six EHF EURO participants have scheduled test matches against teams not involved in the final tournament.
Sweden play twice against Iceland; Croatia meet Finland on two occasions. Netherlands are the only team to test against a non-European nation, as they play Japan on 27/28 September.
Czech Republic face neighbouring rivals Slovakia, Spain are up against Austria, while Romania head Ambros Martin has summoned no less than 36 players to form an A and a B team.
On one occasion, these two face each other; the A team also plays against a Polish B team.