As the penultimate round of group stage matches in the Women’s European Championships come to a close, there wasn’t much in the way of entertaining competition.
On a day that included comprehensive wins for Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Hungary, Spain and France; five of the six games saw one of the teams put twenty goals past their opponents, with an average margin of victory being eighteen goals, the smallest margin of victory being by ten goals (13-3, Greece vs Germany).
The Netherlands showed no mercy against Romania, thrashing the debutantes to the competition, 28-0. The two teams are a world apart in terms of quality and experience, and that difference was highlighted today in very starkly.
You have to give credit to the Dutch in how they kept their concentration in the game. They were totally committed to scoring goals, until the end, and did not allow the Romanian’s even a sniff of a goal. With performances like this, it is no wonder that the Netherlands have scored more goals at the European Championships than any other team (1574 at 19 competitions).
CN Mataro’s Simone Van de Kraats was as cool as ice in front of goal, scoring with all eight of the shots she took. Fleurien Bosveld, who has so far sat out for all the games, marked her introduction into the team with four goals. Lola Moolhuijzen also saw four of her efforts nestle in the back of the Romanian net.
Having had the worst ever start to a European Championships, Hungary are re-gaining confidence with a 22-6 win over the home side, Croatia. After an incredibly promising start from Croatia, the game eventually turned out to be a bit of a rout by Attila Biro’s team. In the second half, Aljosa Kunac’s side began to tire, and the score perhaps looks nastier that it should have. But the positive for the hosts is that Hungary had to work really hard in the first half to keep their opponents at bay – who were once again spurred on by a healthy-sized crowd.
There were impressive performances in the game by Greta Gurisatti (5 goals) and the returning Rebecca Parkes (4 goals, 6 personal fouls drawn). One of the more recent additions to the team, UVSE’s Kinga Peresztegi-Nagy also enjoyed a brilliant game – with three goals, and some excellent defending at centre-back.
The situation Hungary find themselves in is very interesting. They have played two very strong teams, Greece and the Netherlands, in their opening two games, and lost. The manner of the Dutch defeat was probably more damaging than the result. But in a one-off game, Hungary can still beat anyone. Even if they find themselves facing a very difficult quarter-final opponent, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them beat a ‘bigger’ team in Split – something that they are used to doing.
Croatia were well-beaten today, but there were a lot of positive signs. They showed real bravery in taking the game to the Hungarians in the first half, and although they didn’t have the capability to match their counterparts, they showed they deserve to make the quarter-finals.
The first game of the day was also a straight forward affair for Alexia Kammenou’s Greek side, who triumphed over Germany by a ten-goal margin. The win was expected, but on another day against stronger opponents, Greece might not have got away with the sort of performance they conjured this morning. They could have scored at least twenty-five times, but instead were poor with the ball.
On the whole, the game was not played at a particularly high level; the Greeks were comfortable knowing they had no chance of losing, while German players seemed accepting to the fact that they now have practically no chance of progressing to the quarter-finals.
Maria Myriokefalitaki was influential in the game. The Olympiacos centre helped herself to four goals, but also provided three extra-player situations for her team. Stefania Santa and Vasiliki Plevritou both secured braces in the match.
Romania 0-28 Netherlands (0-8, 0-7, 0-6, 0-7)
Croatia 6-22 Hungary (3-5, 2-4, 1-7, 0-6)
Germany 3-13 Greece (0-2, 3-6, 0-3, 0-2)
The Italian Setterosa continue to build momentum at these championships, with a relatively effortless 23-7 win against Serbia. The three points all but guarantees that Italy will finish top of the Group B, even before playing France tomorrow. They were not at their best today, conceding far more scores than head coach Carlo Silipo would have liked, but the gulf in quality between two teams, who are in completely different places in their team development, was evident.
Going forward, Italy managed to convert 66% of their shots past Vanja Lazic in the Serbian goal; with 19-year-old Dafne Bettini scoring four times, while three others: Silvia Avegno, Domitilla Picozzi and Sofia Giustini, all enjoying three-goal games. They were pretty clinical in their power play movements too, with a 72% conversion rate.
Italy have really been impressive so far in Split. Of course, they were expected to beat many of the teams in their group, but they have gone about their business professionally, as well as beating the reigning European Champions, Spain. They have secured the top berth in Group B, which historically is a good omen for the Setterosa – they have never failed to reach a European Championship semi-final when finishing top of their group in the preliminary rounds.
For Serbia, this game is not the one they need to win. Their attention is no doubt drawn towards their final group game in two days against Israel, which will largely determine how much of a success Serbia’s tournament in Split will be.
Five goals from the experienced Annie Espar helped Spain on their way to demolish Israel 20-3.
Like the Italians did to Serbia, Spain once again highlighted the difference in quality between the developing water polo nations and the very top-tier teams. Israel are not a bad side, but they were nowhere near competitive today. Credit though, has to go to the Spanish – the result was more testament to the rich prowess of quality at Miki Oca’s disposal, rather than the weakness of the Israeli’s.
CN Terrassa’s Paula Camus bagged a hat-trick of goals, while another of the three Paula’s in the Spanish team, Paula Prats, contributed in the game with a hat-trick of assists.
The three points points are not lost on the Spanish, but the reigning champions will be just as happy with what else they got out of the game; individually all the outfield players in the team scored a goal, while as a team, they converted all five of their extra-player situations. Conceding three goals in a match is also very decent, especially against a team of Israel’s level.
Following the trend of the day, the final match at the Spaladium Arena saw France thrash Slovakia – with Nice’s young talent, Ema Vernoux, finding the target on eight occasions.
France were clinical this evening ,and at times it was like shooting practice for Emilien Bugeauds’ team. With a highly impressive 74% score percentage from 38 shots, they will at least be grateful for the workout they recieved around their opponents goal-mouth.
Vernoux’s support cast on the goals front were: Estelle Millot (2), Julliet Dhalluin (5), Valentine Heurtaux (2), Viviane Bahia (3) and Louise Guillet – who scored four goals, one of which was an outrageous lob from a 5m penalty.
The only member of the Slovakian team that will half-remember this game was Bronislava Sepelova, who scored a three goals from three shots.
Serbia 7-23 Italy (1-5, 1-5, 3-7, 2-6)
Spain 20-3 Israel (5-2, 6-1, 3-0, 6-0)
France 28-5 Slovakia (8-0, 7-1, 6-2, 7-2)
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