Following the traditions from the previous years, timeoutmag.com asks people around handball about their opinion, favourites and predictions related to EURO 2016. This time was former Hungarian national team player, Krisztina Pigniczki (European Champion in 2000, EURO bronze medalist in 1998 and 2004, silver medalist at World Championship in 2003 and Olympic silver medalist in 2000 in Sidney), working these days as a coach with the younger teams at Gyori Audi ETO KC, who gave her predictions about semifinals and the 5-6.placement match. Besides our expert, members of the staff will also predict the next matches.
Match for the 5-6th place: GERMANY – ROMANIA
Krisztina Pigniczki: “Germany is preparing for the next years World Championship, as organisers, Michael Biegler, the new head coach made a good team, without too many stars, only Clara Woltering and Kerstin Wohlbold is from the old team in the squad. New, hungry players are in the squad, having high motivation to show their skills. Their performance so far in the tournament is remarkable, with their quick attacking play they surprised many teams in this EURO.
On the other hand, Romania has more experience in their squad and one of the best player in the world in Neagu, but their defence was not working in the last decisive game against Denmark and they might be disappointed about not to qualify to the semifinals. My prediction is that Germany takes the fifht place.”
timeoutmag.com: “Germany is building a new team with a new head coach and they performed well during the whole tournament, having a quick attack and good goalkeeper performance. Romania is coming after a disappointing Olympic tournament, coach replacement and some really good games in the tournament. They depend pretty much on Neagu in attack, if their opponent will manage to stop her as Denmark did, so is possible to win against Romania. Ambros Martin is the head coach which puts the accent on defence and rely on Neagu in attack, this had not worked against Denmark. Now every member of the Romanian team must bring their contribution in attack, so the opponent must share their attention when they are defending. Because of the fact that Cristina Neagu and Clara Woltering played many years in the same club, they know each other well and this might be in favour of Germany. Our prediction: Germany takes the fifth place.”
DENMARK – NETHERLANDS
Krisztina Pigniczki: ” Good tournament from Denmark, growing in performance during the EURO and winning without emotions the last, decisive game. They have a good goalkeeper, sharp shooters and a fantastic defence – which is very exhausting to do it during a whole game. Netherlands in my opinion, is a much more compact team, which plays together for a long time now, and even with a new head coach they seem convincing and improving during the tournament. Having also a good goalkeeper could be decisive, but I see their strength in their versatile players. Prediction: Netherlands will go to the final.”
timeoutmag.com: ” After their defeat in the first round against Germany, Netherlands has shown a constantly improving performance. For years they have been playing one of the fastest and best handball to see. Their key match was the one against France when they showed that they are not only good in handball but their nerves, head and heart is in the right place as well. They signed Danish Helle Thomsen before the EURO so they have one of the best on the court and they can approach Denmark from a totally different angle than many could imagine.
On the other hand, Denmark had to miss the Olympic Games after a failed qualification, and they are more rested than other teams here and really wanted to show something here. Last year, they missed the medal fights at home but Sweden is almost feeling like home for Denmark as a lot of Danish fans are supporting them in the hall. Their most important match against Romania was their best one in the competition. Their defence was working on a very high level (to remark that this type of defence is very exhausting and needs high focusing level), demonstrating that even Cristina Neagu can be stopped. If they can repeat their level of defence, they can give a hard task for the Netherlands to solve, but the Dutch team has everything that is needed to solve the task. We think the Netherlands will reach the final.
FRANCE – NORWAY
Krisztina Pigniczki: “France it seem to ride a wave, after silver at Olympics they are in a new semifinal and they have one of the best defences here at the EURO. Their goalkeepers are also in a very good shape, they can decide or win matches. They like to run, to play fast. But Norway has also a good defence, world-class goalkeepers, they are fit and like to run as well. They missed Heidi Löke, but still had gone through the tournament undefeated. It will be a match of defences and goalkeepers. That team which will manage to got a good flow in the attack, will win the match. My prediction is France.”
timeoutmag.com: ” Norway and France are both experienced in this level of international competitions. The biggest difference is that while the EUROs are Norway’s playground, France is performing better at world championships. Both teams have won medals at the Olympic Games, and both teams are performing well in this EURO as well. Not considering the second half against the Netherlands, France has almost been flawless and the final seconds against Spain were legendary. Their defence is one of the best, if not the best in the world, supported by two great goalkeepers. But if there is somebody that can break the hard French nut, it is Norway. Norway has probably the best goalkeeping duo in the EURO with Grimsbø and Solberg. They are still undefeated in the competition but they have played some tough games. They are clearly missing Heidi Løke and Thorir Hergeirsson has decided to give the opportunity to the younger players. Norway has Nora Mørk and this is a solution for many problems, but if there is a time when France can defeat the Norwegians, it can be now. Still, we think Norway will manage to qualify for the final, supported by their crowd.”