Men’s handball preliminaries: Round five preview

Group B: Poland (2-2) vs. Slovenia (3-1) 

Poland still have one last hurdle to jump over before they can relax. Currently sitting at fourth, Poland are finally beginning to get into form. They just got by Sweden in round four that saw Karol Bielecki score eight goals. Przemyslaw Krajewski and Michal Daszek are also becoming viable scoring threats that complement Bielecki nicely in the right and center back positions. 

Slovenia just narrowly lost to Germany. Blaz Janc was marked very well, leaving most of the heavy lifting to Jure Dolenec. Slovenia still boast one of the best defenses in the competition so far and are going to have to hold up well again if they are to slow down the bustling Poles. 

Group B: Germany (3-1) vs. Egypt (1-1-2) 

Egypt had a golden opportunity to end Saturday in the top four in Group B and they blew it. The team looked completely slack on defense and allowed Brazil to escape with a point. Now, they sit in fifth place against medal contenders Germany, one of the most disciplined teams in the competition. It’s going to take a monumental effort to keep this competitive, let alone emerge victorious. 

Group A: France (3-1) vs. Denmark (3-1)

The top spot in Group A is up for grabs, and one of these two teams will take it. France were proved to be beatable against Croatia as they were outmuscles on the perimeter. Denmark play a less physical game than Croatia, but are incredibly dangerous off the wing thanks to Lasse Svan’s incredible movement. 

This match also pits Mikkel Hansen and Nikola Karabatic, the two best handball players in the world. Both Denmark and France are capable of winning the gold and this will most likely be decided by no more than a three goal margin. 

Group B: Sweden (0-4) vs. Brazil (2-1-1)

Sweden end their incredibly disappointing Olympics against a Brazilian team that are poised for a quarterfinal spot. Though Sweden did look strong against Poland, they just somehow fell apart in the final three minutes of play. 

Brazil are susceptible to long stretches of sluggish play and rely on that “one big moment” to start a stretch of brilliance, and that’s gotten them into trouble on a handful of occassions. An early lead for this team could easily set them up for one of those runs and quickly put away the depsondent Swedes. 

Group A: Croatia (3-1) vs. Tunisia (0-1-3)

Croatia, who looked incredibly poor in play just a week ago, can now sneak into one of the top spots with a victory over Tunsia today. They powered past France in a very phsyical and grueling 29-28 win. This team is versatile, able to switch offensive positioning and promote creativity in attacking movement. 

It should be a fairly straightforward win against Tunisia, who are effectively eliminated from competition.

Group A: Qatar (1-1-2) vs. Argentina (1-3)

This match seemed like it would be of no consequence when competition first started. Qatar embarrased Croatia and Argentina fell to Denmark. Yet the final spot in group play is now for the taking, and one of these two teams will take it – the loser is sent home. 

After their win against Croatia, Qatar have played poorly, looking far from the contenders they’re supposed to be. Yet they showed some fight against Denmark and nearly walked away with a point. Rafael Capote and Zarko Markovic are the chief playmakers for this team and have to enter the game with energy and dictate it from the onset. 

Argentina, Los Gladiores, finally got their first victory against Tunisia on Saturday night. This team has proved they can fight and hang on with the best, surpassing all expecations of being a doormat. They possess the intangibles that Qatar seems to lack: passion and grit. But will it be enough to see them get by a team consisting of all-stars?