Women’s EHF EURO 2018 Qualification continues with the second round of matches this weekend, with one game to be played on Saturday and 13 on Sunday.
All matches will be streamed live on ehfTV.com.
Ukraine vs Croatia – Sunday, 1 October, 19:00 local time
Though Ukraine were clearly defeated in their first match, 22:35 by defending champions Norway, they showed good form in a game they entered as underdogs. Playing in Stjordal, a victory for Ukraine against the formidable world champion squad would have been a significant upset.
Croatia won their Round 1 game at home in Zagreb versus Switzerland, but the 32:28 victory was an unsettled one secured only in the last two minutes.
With returning coach Nenad Sostaric and a rejuvenated squad, it will be interesting to see how Croatia proceed through the EURO Qualification, while for Ukraine, the home match might be their chance to claim an important two points.
Also in Group 1
Switzerland vs Norway – Sunday, 1 October, 17:00 local time
Slovakia vs Poland – Sunday, 1 October, 16:00 local time
Slovakia lost by just one goal, 23:24, against EHF EURO 2012 gold medallists Montenegro in their opener. The team have contested only two EHF EURO tournaments, in 1994 and 2014. In 2014, they made it to the main round, ranking 12th, before missing a place at the 2016 event.
Though they did not collect the points in Bar, Slovakia are clearly a dangerous side and Poland will need to be prepared.
Poland enter Round 2 with the confidence of a commanding 40:13 win against Italy behind them. It will be interesting to see how they fair away in Nitra, Slovakia.
Also in Group 2
Italy vs Montenegro – Sunday, 1 October, 16:30 local time
Faroe Islands vs Sweden – Sunday, 1 October, 17:00 local time
FYR Macedonia vs Serbia – Sunday, 1 October, 19:00 local time
Austria vs Russia – Saturday, 30 September, 18:00 local time
The only Round 2 match played on Saturday will take place in Maria Enzersdorf, where Austria hope to collect their first two points against the 2016 Olympic champions.
Austria’s squad features several young players taking considerable responsibility, including Patricia Kovacs, who contributed five goals in their first match, and line player Josefine Huber, both of whom are 21.
Russia’s side also relies on the leadership of young players such as 22-year-old centre back Daria Dmitrieva. 2016 Olympic MVP Anna Vyakhireva plays a crucial role in the team though she is also just 22 – but she is currently off court due to injury, and is a considerable loss for Russia as they contest the EHF EURO 2018 Qualification.
Also in Group 4
Portugal vs Romania – Sunday, 1 October, 15:00 local time
Slovenia vs Czech Republic – Sunday, 1 October, 18:00 local time
Slovenia recorded a tough loss in Round 1 at the hands of EHF EURO 2016 semi-finalists Denmark.
Playing away, Slovenia fell behind immediately, with the score at 7:1 in favour of their Scandinavian rivals after 10 minutes. The visitors then staged a remarkable comeback, coming within one goal at half-time (12:11 to Denmark) before a final score of 28:22.
Though Slovenia left Denmark with no points, their strong moments showed they can challenge the most difficult teams in the group – and that Sunday’s match in Celje could be one of the most exciting of the upcoming round.
Czech Republic drew attention at the EHF EURO 2016 when they recorded close losses against the likes of Olympic champions Russia and World Championship 2015 bronze medallist Romania. They opened their qualification campaign with a 30:23 win against Iceland and now hope to add to their points tally.
Also in Group 5
Iceland vs Denmark – Sunday, 1 October, 15:00 local time
Lithuania vs Spain – Sunday, 1 October, 19:00 local time
Lithuania shocked Germany to record a draw in Oldenburg in their opening qualification match on Wednesday. After claiming the lead at the end of the first quarter, Lithuania held a steady advantage through the entire match, before Germany equalised in the last five minutes to split the points.
On Sunday, Lithuania play their second qualification match at home versus EHF EURO 2014 silver medallists Spain. Though only one round has been played, it appears Lithuania are a team to watch – could they be on their way to their second ever EHF EURO?
The hosts of Sunday’s match have only made it to the final tournament once before, in 1996, when they placed 12th.
This clash features a battle between two of the top scorers so far in the qualification phase: Spain’s Carmen Martin, who tallies 12 goals after their Round 1 win against Turkey, and Lithuania’s Marija Gedroit, on nine.
Also in Group 6
Turkey vs Germany – Sunday, 1 October, 17:00 local time
Belarus vs Hungary – Sunday, 1 October, 14:30 local time
Kosovo vs Netherlands – Sunday, 1 October, 20:00 local time