Spain vs. Croatia / EHF Euro 2016 – This is already a classic of European handball, as we constantly see the two teams in the finals, although it sounds surreal that neither Spain nor Croatia were never champions of Europe. They played numerous finals and especially semi-finals so this is nothing new or extraordinary, and someone will be hugely disappointed after the match. The Spaniards usually won before but they never shone, and they drew and lost one match. Croatia is a special story and they either excel or totally fail, but what they did in the last round of the second phase will be tell over and over again in coming years. The two teams played number of head-to-head and the last one was at previous EC which Spain won in battle for third place, but before that Croatia was more successful. Po?etak: 29.01.2016 – 21:00 SEV
The Spaniards had come to Poland as one of biggest favourites but the squeezed in the semi-finals and no one give them much chance as three other semi-finalists are definitely better team. Spain routinely did the job in the first phase when they won two matches, albeit with two and three goals difference, and drew with Slovenia which produced no penalties. At the beginning of the second phase defeat by Denmark although they had a lead for the bigger part of the match, however, they played dreadfully in the finish and lost, which brought on surface need to win in last two rounds.
It wasn’t easy against Hungary and they again won by just two goals difference, and they did it all over again in the last round against Russia, which was enough for the first place in the group. We haven’t seen anything special in their game, except occasionally very good goalkeeper Sterbik, and generally good defences, although there were several mistakes in certain matches. Clearly, they need one very good day to reach the final.
Probable lineups Spain: Sterbik, Rivera, Garcia Robledo, R. Entrerrios, Maqueda, Tomas, Aginagalde
When you see Croatia in a semi-final, it could be said it is fully in line with expectations but when you take a closer look on the way how they reach this time the semi-finals, than it can be even said that they left behind Norwegians and Germans, who are two big surprises. Rejuvenated Croatia showed two faces in Poland. They lost two times at this championship and are the only semi-finalists who lost two matches. Norway defeated them in the group phase, while they only solid victories were over Belarus and particularly Iceland. In the second phase they outclassed Macedonia, and after it came match against France. Their long time hangman did the job again and they easily lost. At that moment Croatia was written-off.
The only thing left to them was the tiniest of all threads before the last round and even then they didn’t decide alone about their fate, at least till the moment when Norway won France. That the math told us that they must win the host, Poland, with at least 11 goals difference and of course they were again written-off, however, after a brilliant game, especially as the beginning of second halftime Croatia had a lead at one moment of surreal 17 points. The match ended with 37-23, and we need to add to this that at the beginning of the second half they made a series of 8-0 when the Poles didn’t score for 10 minutes. Wingers scored in total 20 goals and everyone in attack was brilliant except the first star Duvanjak, but they finally got good goalkeeper but this time it is not Alilovic but Stevanovic. There is no need to say how much their self-confidence is big now.
Probable lineups Croatia: Stevanovic, Strlek, Sliskovic, Duvnjak, Kopljar, Cupic, Maric
Spain – Croatia PICK
The Spaniards played mostly uncertain matches, while all Croatia’s matches were resolved earlier. Now, we could see an uncertain match but attacks of both teams should decide the outcome and not defences or goalkeepers, so we will forecast again a match with more goals.
Pick: over 51.5 goals
Odds: 1.67 at bwin (down to 1.57 can be played)