After extending their clean records to three wins in three rounds earlier this week, defending champions Norway, 2016 silver medallists Netherlands, Montenegro, Serbia and Denmark can now become the first teams to join hosts France as participants in the Women’s EHF EURO 2018.
This weekend’s Round 4 of the qualification will bring together the same teams as in in the mid-week matches from Round 3.
Again, all 14 matches will be livestreamed on ehfTV.com. To help you decide which ones to watch, we have selected five highlights.
Sweden vs Serbia - Saturday, 24 March, 16:00 hrs local time, live on ehfTV.com | TV3 | RTS
Thanks to eight goals by current EHF EURO 2018 Qualification top scorer Katarina Krpez Slezak, Serbia took a 30:23 win to bring Sweden back on earth on Wednesday, three months after the Scandinavians made it to the World Championship Semi-finals.
Another win over Sweden on Saturday would give Serbia a ticket to France, while a home win would level the standings again.
“I hope that the advantage is still on our side after the match in Sweden,” experienced Serbian player Andrea Lekic said.
Sweden squandered a six-goal half-time lead on Wednesday and are eager to improve at home.
“We know that we can do it better,” Swedish coach Henrik Signell said.
Romania vs Russia - Sunday, 25 March, 18:30 hrs local time, live on ehfTV.com | TVR1 | TV Start
After their sensational defeat in Austria, Olympic champions Russia went back on track with a five-goal win over Romania. All three teams are now level on four points.
“We have a long journey via Munich to Cluj. I hope this fact does not have an impact on our preparation,” Russian coach Evgeny Trefilov said. “The atmosphere in Romania will be something new for our young players. I hope we can stand the heat.”
Romania coach Ambros Martin, underlined that “we have to reduce the number of unprepared shots and mistakes in attack if we want to win. We have to play cleverer against this strong defence.”
The match will likely feature another close duel of the top scorers Cristina Neagu (nine for Romania) and Daria Dmitrieva (10 for Russia).
Slovenia vs. Iceland - Sunday, 25 March, 17:00 hrs local time, live on ehfTV.com | TV Slovenija 2 | RUV
While Denmark can already clinch their berth for the finals tournament against Czech Republic on Saturday, the two teams that are in the hunt meet again, this time Slovenia.
After a thrilling tie in the first leg (30:30), Slovenia are supposed to be the favourites on home ground.
“Our team have more international experience, but unfortunately we let a big chance slip in Iceland,” Slovenia head coach Uros Bregar said.
The first match featured excellent performances by both goalkeepers: Hafdís Lilja Renötudóttir had 12 saves for Iceland, while Amra Pandzic stood out for Slovenia.
Another key to success for the hosts will be if they will be able to stop Helena Rut Orvarsdottir, who netted 10 times in the first leg.
Slovenia are still waiting for their first victory after two defeats. Anything else than beating Iceland would drastically reduce their chances of making it to France.
Spain vs Germany - Saturday, 24 March, 20:00 hrs local time, live on ehfTV.com | Teledeporte | sportdeutschland.tv
“This was truly a black day. I cannot remember when we made so many mistakes in one match,” Spain coach Carlos Viver said after the surprising 33:24 defeat against the fully rejuvenated team of Germany on Wednesday.
The absence of top star Carmen Martin was no excuse for the coach.
On the other hand, Dutch-born Henk Groener had a perfect debut on the German bench. His side took Spain apart thanks to a series of counter attacks.
“We know that Spain have two faces, and they will definitely show the other one on home ground,” Groener said.
Germany are on top of the table with five points, one ahead of Spain and three ahead of Lithuania.
“We have made a huge step towards France, but we can make an even bigger one if we get at least a draw,” Germany left back Xenia Smits said.
Netherlands vs Hungary - Sunday, 25 March, 16:00 hrs local time, live on ehfTV.com | NPO 1 | Sport 1
Goalkeeper Tess Wester saved the thrilling 19:18 Dutch win in Hungary on Thursday. Now the EHF EURO 2016 Finalists can secure their trip to France with another win against Hungary, who trail the group leaders from the Netherlands by two points.
In the farewell show of super star Anita Görbicz, who finished her career in the national team, Hungary were on an equal level but ultimately failed in the closing minute. And they not only lost the match, but also back court striker Zsuzsana Tomori, who severely injured her knee in the final stages of the match.
The Netherlands will still miss four players, including Estavana Polman, when they host Hungary on Sunday. They will be supported by a record crowd of 6,000 fans in the Indoor Sportcentrum Eindhoven, which sold out within a day after ticket went on sale.
Remaining matches in Round 4:
FYR Macedonia vs Faroe Islands - Sunday, 25 March, 19:00 hrs local time, live on ehfTV.com | TV Telma
Austria vs Portugal - Saturday, 24 March, 20:25 hrs local time, live on ehfTV.com | ORF Sport+
Denmark vs Czech Republic - Saturday, 24 March, 16:10 hrs local time, live on ehfTV.com | TV2 | Sport 1
Turkey vs Lithuania - Sunday, 25 March, 17:30 hrs local time, live on ehfTV.com | TRT Spor | Viasat Baltic
Belarus vs Kosovo - Sunday, 25 March, 15:00 hrs local time, live on ehfTV.com | Belarus 5