Today marks the start of the European Handball Championship for men's teams. The opening day features the national teams of the Netherlands and Georgia.
The Netherlands team approaches the start of the European Handball Championship not in the best form. During two Golden League tournaments, the team suffered 5 defeats in 6 matches. Particularly concerning are three crushing defeats, although the team managed to secure a victory over Norway, for whom the match had no tournament significance at that time.
The recent results in the Golden League are as follows: On 7 January, the Netherlands lost to Denmark with a score of 18:32. On 6 January, they were defeated by Norway 35:38. On 4 January, they suffered a defeat from Egypt with a score of 28:30. On 5 November, they lost to Denmark 23:40. On 4 November, they achieved a victory over Norway 37:32. On 2 November, they lost to Spain with a score of 28:39.
In the qualifying stage, the Netherlands team performed confidently, despite an initial defeat by Greece. The team achieved three victories with one draw, outperforming their rivals Greece, Croatia, and Belgium, and taking first place in their group with 9 points. The total score of goals scored and conceded was 170:157. Ahead of the start of the European Championship, the main question is whether the Netherlands team can regain its form and demonstrate the level of play that allowed them to confidently pass the qualification.
The Georgia handball team shows impressive results for its level ahead of the first match at the European Championship, especially considering their last game in the qualifying stage. On 30 April, the team created a sensation, winning away against Hungary with a score of 31:30. The decisive seven-meter throw was scored in the last second, becoming the main sensation of the qualifying stage, with the odds for Georgia's victory in this match being over 20.
In preparation for the championship, the Georgia team played two friendly matches: on 29 December, they lost to Romania with a score of 25:31. On 28 December, they won against Slovakia with a score of 32:27. In the qualifying stage of the European Championship, the Georgian team took third place, achieving victories over Lithuania and an unmotivated Hungary, which allowed them to participate in the continent's championship for the first time in history.
Ahead of the European Championship, Georgia shows the potential for sensational results, confirmed by their performance on the international stage in the qualifiers.
The opponents have never met each other in international competitions.
Of course, the Dutch are the clear favourites, but considering their form, I would bet on the highly motivated Georgians, who can avoid a heavy defeat. For them, this will be the match of a lifetime, and the Netherlands seem to be the easiest opponent.