12 Aug. 2023
The day has come for the last matches at the 10th IHF Men's Youth World Championship in Croatia. The final day in Varaždin starts with Norway and the Faroe Islands fighting for their reputation in the 7/8 placement match. Before things start to heat up in the battle for the medal, Germany eye second straight win after failing to qualify for the semi-final and will try to beat Portugal.
7/8 Placement Match
- 12:30 CEST Norway vs Faroe Islands
Debutants Faroe Islands will have a great ranking, considering they weren't the first favourites to progress from the group. However, young Faroese players are just proof of the progress and good work in their country regarding handball in recent years. After their junior them claimed the seventh place at the IHF Men's Junior World Championship 2023 more than a month ago, this generation has a chance to repeat the same.
The Faroese had their ups and downs - eliminating Sweden from the main round, beating Germany but also lost to Islamic Republic of Iran in the group. Their two games in the knock-out stage weren't better. In the historic quarter-finals, they dropped +3 lead 59 seconds before the buzzer and later lost to Egypt in extra-time.
The game against Portugal was even harder as they made a comeback only to lose in a penalty shoot-out. However, on the wings of the competition's top scorer Óli Mittún, who has 76 goals so far, the third-best attack hope they can beat their second Scandinavian opponent.
The Norwegian side was unstoppable at the start of the competition, having four straight wins against North Macedonia, Georgia, Montenegro and Austria. In the last game of the main round final, Denmark were to much to take, and in the quarter-finals, they didn't have solution for Croatia's 3-2-1 and 5-1 defence.
Coming from two tough defeats, it seemed hard for Norway to get up and have the strength to pair Germany throughout the whole match, thus securing themselves a battle for the 7/8 placement match. Norway might not have attack or defence among the top 10 in the competition, but Lasse Sunde Lid and Marius Olseth, with 84 goals, raise the bar for the rest of the team.
5/6 Placement Match
- 15:00 CEST Germany vs Portugal
Germany were eager to enter the fight for the medal, but European champions Spain were once again a tough nut to crack. After a great start to the competition with three straight wins, perfect Germans tripped over the Faroe Islands and redeemed themselves against Islamic Republic of Iran. After failing to qualify for another semi-final, they showed courage and responded well in the first placement match against Norway, leaving Scandinavian side five goals behind.
Now, Germany are looking forward to ending Croatia 2023 on a high. With the help of their top scorer Marvin Siemer and goalkeeper Marc Julian Buchele, the third-best defence of Croatia 2023 will face lucky Portugal.
"We are now really looking forward to Portugal and want to say goodbye with success. The Portuguese have made great progress in recent years and established themselves in European handball. I'm expecting a top game between two strong teams," said German head coach Emir Kurtagic for handball.net.
Portugal are eyeing their sixth win at the World Championship, and they want to add Germany to the list of Rwanda, Algeria, Hungary, Slovenia and the Faroe Islands. However, Portugal didn't have it as easy as it seemed. They couldn't keep up with hosts Croatia; they narrowly won against Hungarians and Slovenia while taking that quarter-final ticket.
Unbeaten Denmark beat them by ten in the quarter-finals and now they have a tough game against the Faroe Islands behind them. Portugal managed to squeeze into 5/6 placement match after 60 minutes and a penalty shoot-out. Yet, Tiago Sousa and his teams hope they can overcome fatigue and bring one more excitement to their fans.
Two sides played against each other at the M18 EHF EURO 2022 in the main round Group 1. The game ended with no winners (23:23). Centre back Fritz Haake netted eight times. At the same time, Portugal's best player was Vasco Costa, who missed the competition after playing at the IHF Men's Junior World Championship 2023.
Photo: Croatia 2023/Kolektiff images