20 Jan. 2023
If Germany and Norway seal their fifth victory at the 28th IHF Men's World Championship, it is all over for the Main Round Group III. The group's leading duo must remain on course for two new points and confirm their quarter-final spot. However, neither team will have an easy task as Qatar and the Netherlands proved to be fighting teams. Serbia will open the day against Argentina, hoping the other results of the group will keep their dream alive.
- 15:30 CET Serbia vs Argentina
Serbia had everything in their hands, but they let the win against Norway slip away. Antonio Gerona's team was in the lead by four for most of the match, and the Norwegians rebounded in the last 15 minutes to snatch a 31:28 win. With two defeats by group leaders, Serbia now have only small chances of progressing to the quarter-final.
However, Serbia need to continue on the same high level to keep third place, which could be important in the future in terms of the Olympic Games Paris 2024 qualifications. To do so, they must win both remaining matches of the main round, and the first one brings them Argentina.
Argentina have only one win at the World Championship, against North Macedonia, and were defeated by Germany, Norway and the Netherlands. As the bottom-ranked team with zero points, if they lose this one too, Argentina are on their way to their worst-ever World Championship placement.
"It is very important to recover after defeat, because we have an important duel against Argentina and we have to give one hundred per cent in the next two matches. Every goal counts and as long as there are theoretical chances for the quarter-finals, we have something to hope for, but we also have an obligation to finish the championship in the best possible way", said Serbia's head coach Antonio Gerona to rss.org.rs
Serbia and Argentina have met only two times so far, both at the World Championship. In 2011, Serbia snatched a narrow 25:24 win, while Argentina got their revenge at the 2019 Men's World Championship by winning 30:28.
- 18:00 CET Qatar vs Norway
The Norwegian team started the 2023 Men's World Championship without their usual high-paced level of handball. Hence, they narrowly won against the Netherlands in the group phase (27:26). However, Sander Sagosen, Sebastian Barthold and Magnus Rød's team showed their strength and persistence after a comeback against Serbia.
After trailing most of the match, Norway stepped up a gear in the last 15 minutes of the match, completely turning the tide and claiming an important 31:28 win that opened the door to the quarter-finals for them.
Winning over Qatar would bring Norway the fourth consecutive place among the top eight teams in the world. And Qatar will give their best to prevent them from winning. Qatar might be without a point in the Main Round Group III, but they have produced a great performance against much stronger opponents.
Germany struggled for the most part of the match, claiming a 31:27 win in the end, while the Netherlands turned things around in the last ten minutes. Qatar will have to play without one of their most experienced players, Rafael Capote, who is out for now, and line player Salem Anwar Jedaied is registered instead.
The 2005 Men's World Championship group phase match is the only time these two have met at the world's flagship handball competition. Norway sealed an easy 33:22 win.
- 20:30 CET Netherlands vs Germany
Are we going to see Germany in the quarter-finals after two matches in the Main Round Group III, or will we have to wait for the outcome of the group on the last day? The last match of the day in Katowice will give us an answer.
The Netherlands, in their first World Championship appearance after 62 years, proved why they received the Wild Card. In four matches at the competition, they lost only to Norway by one goal (26:27). Staffan Olsson's team had a tough tie against Qatar but managed to get back on track in the crunch time, securing another win.
The Dutch side can still dream of their maiden quarter-finals spot if they win against unbeaten Germany. Then it would all come down to the last-round matches. However, if Alfreð Gislason's team snatches yet another victory, they are through.
Can Kay Smits run past a strong German side where he will come face-to-face with his Magdeburg teammates Lukas Mertens and Philipp Weber, or will it be Luc Steins? Can the Netherlands stop the German machine with their young talent Juri Knorr?
We can only speculate, but one thing is sure, Germany might be a favourite on paper, but if handball has taught us anything in the past, miracles are always possible. Germany are on four out of four and they will give their all to remain unbeaten.
"For me, the Netherlands are Iceland 2, with extremely high speed and a strong, fast, agile backcourt with Dani Baijens, Kay Smits and Luc Steins. The players have gained a lot of international experience in their clubs and bring a lot of pace to the plate. The team was put together ideally for the style of play. In defence, they have fast legs, defend with a lot of movement and provoke fouls in front of them in order to get into their transitional game. I'm expecting a lot of one-on-one situations in the attack", said German assistant coach Erik Wudtke ahead of the match to handball.net
The Netherlands' first and last World Championship appearance was back in 1961, and interestingly enough, they were placed in a group with Germany. The result might come as a shock – 33:7 (11:2) for the Germans.