15 January 2017
Seven games are scheduled for Saturday, with at least one in every venue of the first round. Here is everything you need to know about day four…
Group A, Hall XXL, Nantes
Match of the Day: France vs Norway (17:45)
It’s the revenge match from the last EURO, when the Norwegians stopped the French from going to the semi-finals (29:24). France, by the way, has lost its last two games against this opponent. And while both teams are, for now, undefeated in this world championship, we can expect sparks to fly on the XXL Hall court, which should be crammed to the rafters for the game.
The French are confident and talking about revenge, convinced that they can do better than they did last year: “We want to show them that we’re better than this defeat,” said Michael Guigou. “Norway have got a very strong team, which plays moves very fast and with a defense that looks already in place. But I think we’ve got the assets to give them trouble.”
For Sander Sagosen, the Norwegian star — who will play for PSG next season – this, of course, will be quite a special game, in which he will face his idol and soon to come teammate Nikola Karabatic: “This French team is the best of the last ten years and Nikola is the best player. But we have shown last year that, on a one-off occasion, we could beat them. So, of course, France will be favourites but we showed against Poland and Russia that we are ready.”
Brazil vs Japan (20:45 CET)
Brazil have proven that they has players with strong personalities by controlling its match against Poland (28:24), three days after a complicated opening versus France (31:16). The quarter-finalists of the last Olympics will face Japan and their atypical style. A team beaten by Russia (39:29) and France (31:19) who will now have to risk everything.
Group B, Arenes de Metz
Iceland vs Tunisia (14:45)
The two teams are in the same situation before their duel. An uncomfortable situation since they are still waiting for a first win. And, except the logical defeats against Spain (27:21 for Iceland, 26:21 for Tunisia), they may have regrets: Iceland lost by one goal facing off against Slovenia (27:26) and Tunisia also didn’t play well during crunch-time versus FYR Macedonia (34:30).
Group C, Rouen, Kindarena
Chile vs Germany (14:45)
Two days after their historic victory against Belarus (32:28) – their first win against a European team in a World Championship – Chile will challenge Germany, the favourite of this Group C. This time, but the hurdle could be too high. EURO champion and bronze medalist at Rio’s Olympics, the Mannschaft started well in the competition (27:23 versus Hungary), with its captain Uwe Gensheimer who was on top form scoring 13 goals.
Saudi Arabia vs Belarus (20:45)
Surprising during the match versus Croatia, who led by one at half-time (28:23, final score), Saudi Arabia sent a message to the other teams of this group. We will see now if they are able to keep this level against Belarus, who disappointed in their first game (defeat 32:28 against Chile). They will have to be wary of the young pivot Artsem Karalek, who scored ten goals facing off against the Chileans.
Group D, Paris, AccorHotels Arena
Argentina vs Sweden (14:45)
“We expect a speedy team, with a different type of handball, it will be a different match, it’s difficult for us”. The words of Max Darj, the Swedish pivot, summarised the challenged that is waiting his selection against Argentina. After their spectacular win over Bahrain (33:16), the Scandinavian side will try to continue form against the South American side and follow in Denmark’s rhythm. But the Gladiators were defeated in their first match by the Olympics champions (33:22) and are already in urgent need of points.
Bahrain vs Qatar (17:45)
The loser of the of this derby will be in trouble. Beaten respectively by Egypt (22:20) and Sweden (33:16), Qatar and Bahrain don’t have the opportunity to make another mistake — if they want to keep hopes of reaching the eighth-finals alive. Qatar seem to have more of a chance than their neighbours; they beat them handily during the last Asian Championship final (27:22).