Men’s handball preliminaries: Round three preview

Group A: Tunisia (0-2) vs. Qatar (1-1)

Qatar took two steps back in their embarrassing loss versus France. They looked completely apathetic in the final 10 minutes of the game. This side definitely needs some regroupping to do to get back on track. 

They continue play against Tunisia, who looked like they ran out of steam after pushing France in the opening round of play. Issam Tej was ejected very early in the game against Denmark and his team suffered from it. There’s no reason why Qatar should lose to this game, especially with a player like Marko Zarkovic. 

Group B: Poland (0-2) vs. Egypt (1-1) 

This shouldn’t have happened. Poland are fighting to stay alive in a group which they were supposed to win. Egypt could very well advance out of a group in which they were supposed to be blanketed. 

Yet, here we are. 

Egypt have a chance to virtually lock a place in the quarterfinals with a win, and simultaneously prove that their incredible victory over Sweden was no fluke. 

Poland have had two tough games to start competition: first against Brazil and the electric Future Arena, then against a German team that looks like it might be France’s chief challenger for the gold. 

Poland collapsed against Germany defensively. For so long they held their ground, only to falter in concentration and it cost them. Will it happen again? 

Karol Bielecki has 17 goals so far for Poland, an astounding number. Absorbing all the pace he gives is a difficult challenge. 

Egypt, meanwhile, don’t have that go-to guy, whose star power alone is enough to turn the tides of the game. Instead, they subtely hang around and keep fighting. It didn’t work in their first game, but those last 10 minutes against Sweden were a wonder to behold. 

However this match ends, it most likely will go down to the final wire. 

Group B: Denmark (2-0) vs. Croatia (1-1) 

Croatia just barely escaped sure doom in a nailbiting 26-25 win over Argentina. Domagoj Duvnjak has failed to take over the game when his team needed him the most. Croatia haven’t looked like a medal contender once in this tournament, and their struggles will likely continue.

Denmark have looked pretty sharp so far in this tournament, indicated by their 2-0 record in play thus far. Lasse Svan, Casper Mortensen and Mikkel Hansen are all scoring threats for this team that has been relatively consistent in play. Denmark have only been seriously tested in the very first half of play against Argentina in the opening round, but they pulled away relatively comfortably in the second half. 

Group A: Brazil (1-1) vs. Germany (2-0) 

Brazil were exposed by Slovenia on Monday, getting relentlessly pouned inside the nine meter line and poor passing on the other end didn’t give them much a chance, despite the raucous crowd. 

Jose Guilherme de Toledo and Fabio Chiuffa emerged as Brazil’s premier scoring threats, but they’re going to need support from the rest of their cast. 

Germany have been sublime this whole tournament and look to be real the biggest threat in France’s quest for back-to-back-to-back golds. Germany love playing fast paced. They love breaking into the line and outmuscling their opponents. Tobias Reichmann and Julius Kuhn consistely perform, whether in scoring or setting up the assist or drawing the penalty. Brazil have been suspect to being drawn into the latter. 

Brazil’s erratic play is an intangible that matches up poorly against Germany, who just look too good to be fazed by a predictably hostile pro-Brazilian crowd. 

Group B: Slovenia (2-0) vs. Sweden (0-2)

To call Group B anything but unpredictable is a disservice to how this table looks right now. 

Sweden exited from Future Arena in disarray following their shocking defeat to Sweden on Monday night. Meanwhile, debutants Slovenia showed their poise in a strong victory over Brazil. 

Sweden still enter as favorites in this match, if only because they still possess the pieces to pull together a strong run, despite a disastrous start. It’s not that they’ve been playing poorly this tournament; it’s that they just couldn’t close the door (similar to Poland, in that sense). Jerry Tollbring, Johan Jakobsson and Fredrik Peterson are still such versatile players that they have the capability of overwhelming Slovenia, who’ve faced less stiff competition up until this point. 

Group A: France (2-0) vs. Argentina (0-2) 

Credit has to be given when it’s been merited, and Argentina have certainly earned credit and respect for their play in the Olympics. They fought neck-and-neck with Denmark before Denmark’s class flexed its muscle. Two days later, Argentina narrowly missed out on a massive upset over 2012 bronze medalists Croatia. 

The reward for their fine play is an in-form France, a team that embarrased medal contenders Qatar 35-20. It’s going to be nearly impossible for Argentina to match against the Karabatic brothres, Daniel Narcisse, Luc Abalo and Thierry Omeyer. But if their play this tournament has shown anything, it’s that they will give France a tough fight.