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Date: 1/23/2014
 

Reigning Olympic Champion France, reigning World Champion Spain, defending European Champion Denmark and Croatia as bronze medallist of the EURO 2012, 2012 Olympic Games and 2013 World Championship have reached the semi-finals of the Men’s European Championship in Denmark. 

As Spain has already qualified for the 2015 Men’s World Championship in Qatar, the three remaining semi-finalists have automatically booked the three direct European tickets to Doha 2015 on Wednesday 22 January. 

Denmark and France have won their groups and had already been confirmed on match day 2 of the main round, which came to an end on Wednesday. Spain and Croatia followed after their final main round victories. 

On Friday 24 January, France vs. Spain (18:00 hrs. local time) and Denmark vs. Croatia will be the fixtures of the semi-finals in Herning. Before (16:00 hrs. local time) Iceland and Poland will compete in the 5/6 placement match.

Like Denmark in Group I, France had dominated the preliminary stage and the main round by a clean sweep of six victories in their first six matches, so the final 28:30 defeat against Sweden did not have any consequences. Denmark is the only team to have a fully clear record with seven victories in all their matches after their 32:23 against Iceland in their final main round match. 

In Group I in Herning, World Champion Spain was only defeated by the Danes and qualified for the semi-finals after their clear 33:22 on Wednesday against FYR Macedonia. 
In a real “final” for the second semi-final spot in Group II in Aarhus, Croatia took the decisive 31:28 victory against Poland, as both teams had been equal in points before this crucial duel. Poland was ahead by 14:11, before the Croats scored a brilliant 8:1 series to turn the match around right at the beginning of the second half. For the Balkan team this means the sixth straight participation in a semi-final of a European Championship since 2004. 
Spain (silver medallist in 1996, 1998 and 2006) and Croatia (silver medallist in 2008 and 2010) had never been European Champions before, while Denmark (2008 and 2012) and France (2006 and 2010) had been the winners of the previous four EHF EURO tournaments.
The semi-final France vs. Spain is the rematch of the highly thrilling 2012 Olympic quarter-final (23:22), which had paved the way for France to successfully defend their 2008 Olympic gold medals. Denmark vs. Croatia will be the rematch of the 2013 World Championship semi-final, clearly won 30:24 by later silver medallist Denmark. 

The remaining nine European spots for Qatar will be decided in nine play-offs (home and away leg) in June. The draw for those play-offs will take place in Herning on Sunday, right before the bronze final. 

Pot 1 for the draw consists of the teams which rank 5th to 13th at the current European Championship: Iceland, Poland, Hungary, Sweden, Russia, FYR Macedonia, Austria, Belarus and Serbia.

Pot 2 consists of: Montenegro, Norway, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, Romania and Lithuania.
Only the aggregate winners of those play-offs clinch their berth for Qatar 2015.

Final ranking 7-16 of the 2014 European Championship:
7. Sweden
8. Hungary
9. Russia
10. FYR Macedonia
11. Austria
12. Belarus
13. Serbia
14. Norway
15. Czech Republic
16. Montenegro

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