The women’s European Championship group stage has finished in Eindhoven, and now all eyes turn to the business end of the competition.
Both Spain and Netherlands were the best teams in their group and finished with maximum points from their group stage matches. Both teams had ostensibly difficult matches today, but both overcame their opponents with ease – Spain were far too good for Italy today (14-8), while the Netherlands made the Greeks look average (15-10).
The tournament’s landscape is now clear.
Spain, Greece, Netherlands and Italy all progress directly to the quarter-finals. Eight teams need to play another game to join them.
There are two intruiging cross-over fixtures that could see Division 1 teams fall to Division 2 sides. Great Britain faces Israel, seeking a chance to enter the top eight teams in Europe for the first time since 2014. Meanwhile, old adversaries Croatia and Serbia engage in a spicy derby.
The other two cross-over matches seem less enticing: Hungary is the overwhelming favorite against Czechia, and to a lesser extent, France will probably look past Germany.
For the teams in Division 2 who finished in the bottom two (Slovakia vs Turkiye and Bulgaria vs Romania) will now compete for places 12-16th.
Day 4 Fixtures* (8th January)
16:00 – Cross-over – Croatia vs Serbia
17:30 – Cross-over – Israel vs Great Britain
19:00 – Cross-over – France vs Germany
20:00 – Cross-over – Hungary vs Czechia
12:00 – 12-16 SF – Slovakia vs Turkiye
12:30 – 12-16 SF – Bulgaria vs Romania
*All times in CET
2024 European Women’s Championships, Day 3
The Netherlands rule supreme in Eindhoven, and in Group A, with a 15-10 win over high-flying Greece.
Confronted with the host nations formidable center-forwards, the Greek side found themselves grappling without a viable solution to counter the relentless attacking quality displayed by Simone Van de Kraats (5 goals) and Sabrina Van der Sloot (4 goals).
A pivotal moment unfolded in the second period when a 5-1 scoring spree by the Netherlands undid the commendable first quarter efforts of the Greeks. Three goals in the final minutes before the halftime break further altered the trajectory of the game, transforming a closely contested 6-4 match into a commanding 9-4 lead for the Netherlands.
The momentum carried into the second half, and when Bente Rogge secured the first goal, extending the lead to 10-4, it became apparent to Alexia Kammenou and her team that a comeback against the reigning World Champions was an insurmountable task.
In the other game in Group A, Hungary’s encounter with Croatia proved to be a complete mismatch (17-2). The Magyars effortly crusied to victory, while Croatia probably already shifted their focus to their next match – a critical cross-over match with arch-rivals Serbia.
Czechia awaits Hungary in the cross-overs.
Super Spain asserted their dominance with a resounding victory over a strong Italian side, securing a commanding 14-8 win.
In a disapointingly one-sided encounter, the Spanish bossed every facet of the game, particularly with their offensive work. Judith Forca, Elena Ruiz, and Anni Espar had a field day, collectively contributing 11 goals and effectively dismantling the Setterosa defense.
The reigning European Champions established control from the opening quarter, surging to a 5-1 lead within the initial eight minutes. Despite commendable efforts from Italy in the second and third periods, displaying glimpses of a potential comeback, Spain remained relentless in thwarting any momentum their opponents sought to build.
Both teams are set to advance to the quarter-finals, but this match really made evident Spain’s dead-set focus to securing their third consecutive European Championship title.
Meanwhile, France secured a comfortable victory in their encounter with Israel, emerging as winners with a commanding margin of 16-8.
The French were significantly more clinical in attack, most notably in the second period with four straight goals to create a big gap before half-time (9-4). Decisive goals from Ema Vernoux and Aurelie Battu was a dagger in Israeli hearts, although the real fatal blow could prove to be Alma Yaacobi’s ridiculous brutality with just three seconds left in the match – which sidelines her at least for her teams do-or-die clash with Great Britain.
Hungarian born Orsolya Hertzka netted three goals, complemented by triple scores from French centers Aurelie Battu and Camelia Boloukbachi.
Serbia emerged as Group C winners with a perfect three wins from their three group stage matches, comfortably defeating Czechia 15-4. A 3-1 start in the first quarter was strong, but a clean sheet for the next thirteen minutes of the match, coupled with seven consecutive scores, proved decisive.
Romania secured their first points of the tournament with a 9-7 victory over Turkey. Romania maintained a lead for the majority of the match, aided by four goals from Alina Olteanu.
Great Britain has clinched the top spot in Group D with a commanding and highly significant 12-6 victory over Germany.
While both teams advance to the crossovers, it was a sublime performance from Nick Buller’s side that instills immense confidence for their upcoming challenge.GB is set to face Israel in the crossover round, while Germany awaits France.
Team GB enjoyed a blistering start to the match, leading 3-1 after eight minutes. Heroic defending and outstanding saves from Sophie Jackson in the second period allowed the Brits to seize control, a lead they never relinquished. Lily Turner delivered when it mattered, scoring three early goals; she concluded with four, alongside Toula Falvey, who dominated at 2m.
This victory propels Great Britain into the next phase with momentum and optimism, setting the stage for a thrilling continuation in the tournament.
And finally…three points finally came the way of Slovakia, as they battered Bulgaria 23-8. Scoring with ease, while limiting the Bulgarians to only two goals a quarter, the Slovakians were comfortably better than their opponents. Monika Sedlakova (Gyor) lead the scoring with five goals in the game.
In the overall standings, Slovakia concluded their campaign in Split at the 12th position out of 12 teams. While there remains an opportunity to replicate this result in Eindhoven, achieving 12th place would at least ensure they do not finish in the last position.
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