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Date: 8/13/2017
 

The unpredictable Group A features Denmark vs Norway, Sweden vs France and Egypt taking on Bahrain in the penultimate preliminary round matchday.

Group A - Sunday 13 August

Denmark vs Norway 16:00 (local time)

The winners of this match will go a long way to confirming their eighth-finals place as Denmark (three points) and Norway (2) will fight it out in a remarkably open group.

Denmark face their second neighbour in two matchdays, after beating Sweden while Norway benefitted from an extremely tired Bahraini team, who had dispatched the Danes in the previous matchday.

Claus Hansen and his Danish team have had a rollercoaster of emotions at Georgia 2017 so far with an initial win against Egypt, correct to a draw and then a deserved loss to Bahrain as the Danish attack could not cope with the 3-3 pressing from the Asian side.

However, speaking after the Bahrain defeat, Hansen saw what effect the nature of that loss could have on his team for the rest of the tournament.

“We have to use this feeling of defeat to inspire us,” he said. “We have to reckon the feeling we have right now – the coaches on the bench and the players on the court and try to imagine that when we go onto the court every time now.

“One of the things during these tournaments is that players have to learn that whether you play good or you play bad you have to go to the next game because that’s the only game you can do something about.”

After calling for a response, he got it instantly as a reinvigorated Danish side started off at a high pace against Sweden which they continued throughout to win 29:26. 

Leading the Danish attack is Emile Laerke (21 goals) and for Norway Sindre Heldal (22) is their target man. 

Sweden vs France 18:00 (local time)

French coach Eric Quintin may have one of the best squads of 16 at Georgia 2017, evidenced by three wins out of three so far and with just three of his squad having played an hour or more in the three matches to date.

One of those three players is right-back Julien Bos, who has played 55 seconds less than an hour, but this was due to an awkward injury the Montpellier player picked up in France’s victory over Egypt, when a player landed on his ankle after scoring.

“Maybe it will be a big problem because he was coming back from the same injury,” said Quintin about the injury. “It was protected but the ankle turned - he was recovering for one month from the original one.”

Sitting on the bench for the remainder of the match, Bos was visibly upset and left the court with heavy strapping, assisted by his team. “He knows he’s coming back from the same injury and he knows that maybe he will not play again,” said Quintin about the possibility of Bos missing the rest of the tournament. At the time of writing, France had not replaced the right-back, one of three changes they are permitted to make in the tournament.

Despite this setback, Quintin is looking forward to the clash against the Scandinavian side.

“The Sweden game will be ‘classical’ handball with a 0-6,” he said. “I don’t know if they change, but we try to work with an ability to transform or adapt with plasticity. 

“We see that Scandinavian teams often stay the same way, it is a different way of thinking but all we know is that if we beat Sweden we will be first. The objective is clear.”

A win would see the French top the group on eight points and be uncatchable whatever the rest of the results. 

However, for Sweden it is a very different scenario.

At the start of play today they lie in a President’s Cup spot with just two points from three games and they will need to beat France ahead of their final day match against Egypt to give themselves a fighting chance of a top-four spot in the group. Taking charge for the Swedes will be Markus Thorbjorn, a player who is always looking for opportunities and not letting defences rest.

Mans Landgren in goal is quickly becoming a mini-Mattias Andersson for his side - his impressive 42% overall rate (21 saves from 50) means this diminutive shot-stopper will need to be in perfect from to stop one of the hardest attacking teams in the championship.

France have captain Kyllian Villeminot to thank for 21 goals so far and an impressive overall average of 35.8% save ratio from their two goalkeepers.

Egypt vs Bahrain 20:00 (local time)

Both Egypt and Bahrain have beaten Scandinavian teams already at Georgia 2017 as on the second matchday Egypt defeated Sweden and Bahrain saw off Denmark, but despite the scenes of celebration at the end of both matches, the players were quickly brought down to earth as Egypt and Bahrain were both easily beaten in their last matches – Bahrain against Norway (39:23) and Egypt against France (36:29).

However, the coaches of both teams will expect maximum points later tonight. Despite their Danish win, Bahrain lie bottom of the group on two points and Egypt, with three points, lie in third. A Bahrain win will further complicate the mathematics in the group going into the last round of matches tomorrow.

“Every point we take is a step to the next round,” said Egypt coach Bassem Abdelmoaz Mostafa, after the Sweden victory. “We must celebrate every point we win but we go step-by-step.”

For Bahrain coach Ebrahim Ali, he will hope his players have recovered after the Norway loss - a game in which his core group of seven players, who had all played nearly the full 60 minutes against Denmark, have managed to get their energy levels back to full capacity.

Ahmed Fadil is the Asian side’s top-scorer with 22 goals, while Egypt, who spread the goals around their team more are led by Ahmed Mohamed on 17 strikes, closely followed by the influential Khaled Walid (16 strikes). 

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