Norway vs. Croatia / EHF Euro 2016 – Match for a third place at a big competition is usually a disappointing event for both teams but in this case it might not be so. Both lost in the semi-finals, however, it was Norwegians first, while Croatia was anyway written-off before so at the end both national team should be satisfied with what they achieved in Poland. It is fact the Norwegians are sorry as they lost to Germany after extra time, while Croatia had a lead at the beginning of match against Spain but they can still win a medal if they win the second match against Norway at this championship. They lost the first one played in the group phase by 34-31, while during the qualifications both teams won by once. Begins: 31.01.2016 – 15:00 CET
The Norwegians will end their best ever European championship in the battle for the third position. If someone offered him such outcome before the championship they would surely accept it as they were one of outsiders and no one gave them much chance. However, this team had defeated several handball super-powers, like France, Poland and Croatia already in the group phase and they deservedly reach the semi-final when they didn’t play as they could. We had seen ups-and-downs of this team and regardless of the opponent’s strength those matches usually depend from them not the other team.
When there are several individuals who have their day, and they are usually different one, than no one could parry them. When it is not their day, especially for the outside positions, than can barely draw with modest Macedonia. In the semi-final against Germany they had very good goalkeeper Erevik and he kept the defence afloat with 16 defences, while only wingers were good out of the whole team. Everyone from outside positions underperformed, especially O’Sullivan and Reinkind, but Tonnesen and Lie Hansen weren’t good as well. When the situation is such they should be happy that have reached extra time in which they didn’t play in the best way and they lost. Despite that they shouldn’t lack motive in this match.
Probable lineups Norway: Erevik, Jondal, Lie Hansen, Sagosen, Tonnesen, Bjornsen, Myrhol
They lost in the same manner how they played throughout the whole championship. We have seen two alternating faces of Croatia at this championship and this team either easily won their opponents or they lost without much battle. Best examples were matches against France and Poland in the second group phase, when the French swept the floor with them, but then Croatian totally smashed Poland after a surreal match, which took them to the semi-finals. It was expected that the victory could be a big boost for them against Spain and indeed it was but only in first 20 minutes when they played excellently and when it seemed that might easily win the opponents.
However, in the finish of the first halftime they suffered a huge downfall and quickly moved from +3 to -4 goals, and that is hard to catch against Spain. They gave their best and managed to reduce the backlog at just one goal but they didn’t have enough strength to make complete turnover. Goalkeepers didn’t play good again, defence wasn’t up to the task, while Duvnjak underperformed in the attack and the outcome is this match for bronze. The Croats have played many similar matches, but it is questionable will they find enough motive.
Probable lineups Croatia: Alilovic, Strlek, Sliskovic, Duvnjak, Kopljar, Horvat, Maric
Norway – Croatia PICK
The two teams had played an efficient head-to-head in the group phase when defences were in background. That is how the Norwegians usually play and here will certainly try to maximally speed-up the game against tired Croatia, whose defence is also not at needed level, just like the goalkeepers. That is why we forecast plenty of goals.
Pick: over 55.5 goals
Odds: 1.72 at bwin (down to 1.62 can be played)