The Netherlands have been one of the most successful in women’s handball in recent years, having made it to the semi-finals at each the last four major tournaments played. At the World Championship in 2015, the Netherlands claimed their historic first medal – silver – and it turned out to be the first of several to come in the near future.
After debuting at the Olympic Games in 2016, where they ranked fourth, the Netherlands finished with the silver medal at the EHF EURO 2016. At the World Championship 2017 in Germany the team were the bronze medallists.
These results have cemented the Netherlands’ status as one of the most dangerous teams, and with a largely unchanged squad, the Dutch hope they can carry the form from previous championships through the EURO 2018.
Coach Helle Thomsen is aware of the strength of her team but believes anything can happen in France: “The draw does not really say that much actually. At the European championship, all teams play very good handball and each team can beat each other. Every team has a very high level and it is almost impossible to predict the outcome of this tournament.”
The MVP of the EHF EURO 2016, MVP of the EHF FINAL4 2016/17 and All-star centre back of the EHF EURO 2016 and Champions League in both 2015/16 and 2016/17: Nycke Groot is a key player no matter whether she is on court with her national team or with her club Györi Audi ETO KC. The two-time Champions League winner is an exceptional playmaker and one of the best at reading the game. Through Groot plays both attack and defence, she shines in attack, where her diverse skills are best on display.
Groot made her debut for the Netherlands in 2004 and, prior to the EURO 2018, played 132 matches in the orange jersey, scoring 403 goals.
Left back Lois Abbingh has the textbook characteristics for her position: height, power and a killer shot. She was named as the All-star Team left back at the World Championship 2017, where the Netherlands won the bronze medal. The World Championship campaign was a little inconsistent for the Dutch side, with some unexpected results early on – but Abbingh stood out and was always dangerous, with coach Helle Thomsen crediting her performance on several occasions. The left back was the second top scorer at Germany 2017, with 58 goals.
Over the summer of 2018, Abbingh transferred from Issy Paris to FINAL4 participants Rostov-Don, making her the first Dutch player to compete in the Russian league. Prior to the EHF EURO 2018, she had played 129 matches for the Netherlands and scored 568 goals.
After co-coaching the Sweden national team and leading EHF Champions League club FC Midtjylland, Dane Helle Thomsen became Netherlands coach in 2016. Thomsen replaced long-time coach Henk Groener and immediately led the Netherlands to their first EHF EURO medal – silver.
While it was the Netherlands’ first EURO medal, it was not Thomsen’s – she won the bronze with Sweden in 2014.
Thomsen also guided the Netherlands in their World Championship 2017 campaign, finishing with bronze, then led the team through the successful EHF EURO 2018 Qualification Phase.
Alongside her Netherlands responsibilities, Thomsen was coach of CSM Bucuresti for most of the 2017/18 season, before being let go ahead of the Champions League Quarter-finals. During her time in Romania, Thomsen won the Romanian Supercup, adding to her collection of club trophies, which include two Danish championship titles, two Danish Cups and one EHF Cup. Now, Thomsen works with Norwegian side Molde HK in parallel with the Netherlands.
Past Performance at EHF EURO Events