From July 24th to August 3rd 16 teams fight for the crown at the Men´s 20 EHF EURO 2014 in Linz and Traun. The Head Coaches of the participating teams declared the above mentioned teams as the favorites at the EURO 2014. But including France, Slovenia and Austria the list goes on and on.
Germany defeated Sweden at the Men´s 18 EHF EURO 2012 in Vorarlberg and won the title, Denmark is reigning Men´s 19 World Champion. The only handball nations that are not participating in Linz and Traun are Iceland and Croatia, they failed in the qualification.
2014 the Men´s 20 EHF European Championship is held for the 10th time. Denmark could win the title four times – 1996, 1998, 2008 and 2010. With Silver 2004 and Bronze 2006, there were only three times that the Danish team did not reach the top 3. 2012 the team won Bronze at the Men´s 18 EURO 2012 and since 2013 they have been able to call themselves Men´s 19 World Champion.
Denmark’s fifth strike?
With all these results, the Danish team is one of the big favorites this summer. Denmark’s Head Coach Claus Hansen diplomaticly explains that „this age group is very strong in many countries.“ The goal for him and his team is to qualify for the semi-finals, but as reigning World Champion they want more. Danish player Andreas Hols Jensen says: „I hope we win gold.“
For Isidoro Martinez, Head Coach of Spain, Denmark is the declared favorite: „Their roaster is highly talented and they are brilliant from the physical and technical points of view. We can find Germany, Spain and Sweden just a step behind.“
Spain wants more
At the Men´s 18 EHF EURO 2012 and the Men´s 19 World Championship 2013 the Spanish team was beaten in the semi-finals. For Spanish player Ignacio Plaza two times too many: „The goal is to play our game and to compete until the last minute. From then on, we want to play in the final.“
As a team to the title
Markus Baur, Head Coach of the German team, also has Denmark, Sweden and Spain on his list. Two years ago the German generation of 1994 and younger, won the title at the Men´s 18 EURO. Player Jonas Maier explains the strength of the German team: „Because of the past results we have a good reputation in Europe. Our team is peppered with very good players. Of course we have a team with great individual players, but it’s important that we are one team and that we are playing as one team. That makes us dangerous.“
Sweden wants revenge
Swedish Head Coach Jan Karlsson has Denmark and Germany on his list. The goal for his team is to play in the semifinals: „And when you have reached that, of course you want to get to the final and so on…“
Two years ago Sweden lost the final against Germany at the Men´s 18 EHF EURO 2012. Coach Jan Karlsson: „We would really like to get our revenge.“
Also one of his players, Jesper Konradsson, says: „I´m convinced that we have the strength to fight for the medals.“
France, Slovenia and Austria – who will surprise?
Beside these four teams above, there are many more who will be hard to beat and can surprise. Danish Head Coach Claus Hansen warns: „Look out for France.“ The French team was only ranked 12 at the Men´s 18 EHF EURO 2012. The main goal for Head Coach Yoann Delattre is to reach a top-8-place.
And then of course there is Slovenia and Austria. Slovenia reached the 5th place two years ago in Vorarlberg at the Men´s 18 EHF EURO 2012. Slovenian Head Coach Slavko Ivezic: „First we want to make it to the second part of the competition and then fight for the top places. Getting near the 5th place would be a great success for the Slovenian handball. And yet, every generation has its own secret wishes.“
With the 6th place two years ago and the best result ever for Austria at Men´s 18 European Championships, the team of Head Coach Roman Frimmel is hungry for more. The first goal is to reach the main round. The players are self confident and want to top the sixth place.
The so called Team94 is also called the golden generation. Some of the players are also part of the A-nationalteam like Sebastian Frimmel, Nikola Bilyk and Lukas Herburger. Head Coach Roman Frimmel: „These players are very talented and their attitude is extraordinary. They have the quality to work hard on themselves and that’s one of the biggest assets when it comes to professional sport. This team is not as strong as it is because we have four ‘Players of the Century’, but it is as strong as it is because we have 20 players that can play on a fantastic level. There is not just one part of the team that is outstanding, but it’s the sum of all parts that makes the quality of this team. That’s something we never had before in Austria.“
The Austrian Handball Federation did everything possible for a perfect preperation. With the home crowd on the tribunes in the back, maybe the team will surprise.
For the duration of the upcoming event the Austrian Handball Federation expects 25,000 spectators showing up in Linz and Traun.