Netherlands pass Norway in qualification power ranking

POWER RANKING: The EHF EURO 2016 champions lose their top position to their Dutch rivals, while Sweden jump from seventh to third position less than 10 months out of EHF EURO 2018

Photo: Stephane Pillaud

With rounds 3 and 4 of the Women’s EHF EURO 2018 Qualification throwing off next week (21 to 25 March), it is time for ehf-euro.com to rank the 28 participating teams.

Is it a surprise that the Netherlands have surpassed defending champions Norway and now rank first? Do you agree with Sweden in third place? Join our discussion on Twitter and Facebook and let us know your thoughts. And also compare the teams to where they were in our first power ranking.

To check what has been correct and where we have misjudged teams, head to ehfTV.com next week where the matches will be streamed live.

Rank Nation Move  
1     Even though they lost the World Championship 2017 Semi-final clearly against Norway (32:23), we see them ahead of their arch rivals right now. All players are on board for the matches against Hungary and the team’s confidence to go all the way at EHF EURO 2018 is high.  
2     The defeat against France in the World Championship Final and Nora Mork’s severe injury shocked the EHF EURO record champions. Mork will be missed in the qualifiers, but it will not severely hamper the team’s chances to qualify. And if the right back is fit again for EHF EURO 2018, Norway may well claim back the power ranking’s prime spot.
3     Sweden were the biggest surprise at the World Championship 2017 even though they finished on the unlucky fourth position. The tournament proved the team’s strength and with a double-header against Serbia ahead of them in the qualification, chances are there to book the ticket to France 2018 already after round 4. 
4     Hopes to win another World Championship medal were high last December, but then Romania exited the tournament following a Last 16 loss against Czech Republic. Once more, it became clear that Romania rely on the form of leader Cristina Neagu. Nevertheless, the team is still favourite in group 4 and should decide the upcoming double-header against Russia in its favour. 
5     Russia were kicked out of the World Championship 2017 in spectacular fashion when they lost the quarter-final to Norway 34:17. To the surprise of many, they also lost their EURO qualifier to Austria. Nevertheless, there are still several world class players in the squad which possess sufficient quality to see Russia through to France 2018.  
6     Changing the coach from Dragan Adzic to Swede Per Johansson just ahead of the World Championship was a surprise, but with him also long-time stars such as Katarina Bulatovic and Jovanka Radicevic returned to the national team. Both are also nominated for qualification and with two wins against Poland, Montenegro could already book the ticket to France 2018. 
7     It was up and down for Denmark at World Championship in Germany, with wins against Germany in the Last 16, but defeats to Sweden in the quarter-final and to Russia and Montenegro in the preliminary.  However, Clavs Bruun Jörgensen’s team is still favourite to finish group 5 on top despite strong opponents such as Czech Republic and Slovenia. 
8     With two wins from as many matches, Spain can already book the ticket to France 2018. At the World Championship 2017, Spain lost to Norway in the Last 16, nut nevertheless it became obvious that head coach Carlos Viver’s attempt to mix youth and experience is on a good way. 
9     Czech Republic have their fate in their own hands and a qualification for  France 2018 is within reach – especially if they take at least one win from the double-header against Denmark. Crucial will be the performance of centre back Iveta Luzumova. The Thüringer HC player is the current top scorer in the Women’s EHF Champions League. 
10     Hungary’s hopes for major success at the World Championship 2017 were crushed by France in the Last 16. They face the Netherlands in round 3 and 4 and have the possibility to take points at home. If not, they should secure qualification in either round 5 or 6. 
11     The return of stars such as Andrea Lekic and Dragana Cvijic shall be the key for the ticket to the EHF EURO. Serbia failed to qualify for the quarter-finals at the World Championship when they were beaten by Montenegro, but they should have no problems qualifying for the final tournament.  
12     Ten players of the EHF EURO 2016 squad have either quit the national team or are currently injured. New coach Henk Groener has a huge transition ahead of him and needs to build a new team. Germany already lost one point against Lithuania, making the way to France look steeper than expected. 
13     Coach Uros Bregar has formed a strong team, steered by Ana Gros and the up-and-coming star Tjasa Stanko. Nevertheless, it will be a tough fight to qualify for France, as they are placed in a strong group with Denmark and the Czech Republic. 
14     Poland were the only European team to miss the Last 16 at the World Championship and the process of rejuvenation continues under the leadership of head coach Leszek Krowicki. Poland have the maximum of four points on their account, but Montenegro seem too strong of a team to beat at the moment.  
15 UKR, CRO   Both teams missed the qualification to the World Championship, but one of them will make it to France 2018. Currently, Ukraine are in the better position after they beat Croatia, and they are the clear favourites against Switzerland, while Croatia are the underdogs against Norway. 
17 LTU, AUT   These two were the surprise teams of rounds 1 and 2, and they are in the race for France. Following their draw against Germany, Lithuania are favourites against Turkey, and Austria will be motivated to beat Portugal following their win against Russia. 
19 ISL, BLR, SVK, MKD, POR, SUI   If the Women’s EHF EURO were to be played with 24 teams, they would be part of it, but at the moment the chances to make it are limited, or even lower. 
25 TUR, ITA   One could have thought that these teams would be stronger and currently it seems unthinkable that they could surprise any opponent. 
27 FAR, KOS   The newcomers in the EHF EURO qualification are there to learn. 
written by Björn Pazen / ts