Main Round Group III: Germany and Norway for the top of the group
22 Jan. 2023
The last match day in Katowice can't bring any surprises. The quarter-final spots are already decided, with Germany and Norway only fighting for first place in the group. Serbia and the Netherlands face for the third spot, while Qatar and Argentina will try to claim their first win in the main round phase.
- 15:30 CET Qatar vs Argentina
Qatar and Argentina will open the last day in Katowice in a fight to not finish last. Both sides have only one victory at the 28th IHF Men's World Championship, and it is to be expected that they will try to say farewell to the competition with a win.
The Asian side started with a good performance against Germany, defeated Algeria, only to be overrun by Serbia. In the main round, Qatar had little luck, as they faced two much stronger teams.
Norway outclassed them by 30:17, but against the Netherlands the Qatari players showed their true ability and were in the lead for a good amount of time, only to see a win slip through their hands in the last minutes of the match.
Qatar will try to repeat the same performance against Argentina, who did not have an easy path at the World Championship. Having to face the Netherlands and Norway already in the group phase, to continue with Germany and Serbia in the main round, Argentina needed to show the play and strength they had at the previous competitions.
With their leader Diego Simonet, a top scorer with 26 goals so far, they will try to snatch the first win after defeating North Macedonia in Group F.
Qatar and Argentina have played nine times so far, four at the World Championship since their first encounter at Spain 2013 and the score is tied – two wins for both sides.
- 18:00 CET Serbia vs Netherlands
Serbia and the Netherlands don't only play for prestige, but also for the third place in the Main Round Group III, which can be important for the final ranking and subsequently for the chance of going into the Olympic Games Paris 2024 qualification tournament.
Serbia had high hopes for this World Championship and after the first tight match against Germany, when they lost by 34:33, they believed they could aim high. After three more convincing wins, they stumbled against Norway and lost a chance to reach the quarter-finals. Antoni Gerona's team were in the lead for 40 minutes of the match and a couple of mistakes allowed Norway to make a turnaround.
Now, Serbia have to deliver one last great performance to secure the third spot in the group. It will not be easy against Staffan Olsson's team, who have the same goal as Serbia - third place. Led by the third-best top scorer of the competition, Kay Smits, the Netherlands want to get back on track after losing two important matches against favourites - Germany and Norway, both quarter-finalists.
"We hoped until the last moment and wished for the victory of the Netherlands, but goalkeeper Wolff was up to the task and stopped them from all sides. As the dream of the quarter-finals is over, now we have to do our best, fight to the end and finish in the best possible position so that we have the opportunity to fight for the Olympic Games."
"It will not be easy to beat the Netherlands. The players are very tired. The Netherlands play the same way in all their matches, quick transition, they have six to seven players who play almost all the time and it will be a very physically demanding match", said Serbian head coach Antoni Gerona.
This will be the first time these two sides meet as they will try to improve their final standings at the World Championship.
- 20:30 CET Germany vs Norway
Both teams are already qualified for the quarter-final and the last match of the Main Round Group IV in Katowice will decide the group leaders. Germany and Norway are still unbeaten at the World Championship and both aim for their sixth win in a row. In a way, they could decide their quarter-finals opponents as they are paired with Main Round Group I, where France finished first, followed by Spain.
It will be a high-paced match with good defensive displays and two magnificent goalkeepers – Andreas Wolff and Torbjørn Bergerud. Both of them have a save efficiency above 32%. The Norwegian team captain Christian O'Sullivan will meet his two Magdeburg teammates Lukas Mertens and Philipp Weber in an attacking delicacy and stand-off with Germany's top scorer, young talented Juri Knorr.
Germany and Norway have almost equally efficient attacks and defences, which can be shown in numbers. Germany conceded 25.2 goals on average per match, while Norway is on 22.6 goals on average. On the other side, Alfreð Gislason's team scored 34.8 goals on average per match, while Norway is shy by three goals – 31.8 on average.
"Norway has been successful so far in the way they have played, with a physically strong, athletic style of play, with many duels, a very robust defence and very good transitions. That worked very well under Christian Berge, and it's no different after the change of coach. Jonas Wille relies on the same strengths."
"We know how Norway play and we have to show our strengths. It will be a fighting game, as the match at the EHF EURO 2020 showed. It was a match marked by passion. We have to use our playful strength to leave as winners", said German co-trainer Erik Wudtke for handball.net.
Germany and Norway have played four matches at the World Championship. Other than a draw at the 2005 Men's World Championship, Norway have been the victorious side.