Men’s World Championship: Some excitement on the way to the final

Goalie Niklas Landin may have been just as important to the Danish win, but Anders Eggert scored som truly inspired goals!

Goalie Niklas Landin may have been just as important to the Danish win, but Anders Eggert scored som truly inspired goals!

Last time I wrote that Slovenia had been the positive surprise in the early stages. But I also wrote that Poland and Serbia had been the negative surprises. And in the end it became apparent that, when you take that into account, then perhaps it was not so impressive that Slovenia could defeat those two opponents and win their group. Because then they had a relatively easy path first against Egypt and then Russia who self-destructed by playing a dirty game and drawing a lot of suspensions, but when the test came against Spain in the semi-final, the Slovenian skills and team strength were simply not enough. The final result was 26-22 after the lead had been somewhat larger shortly before the end.

Spain had a tough battle against Germany in the quarterfinal, and this was clearly the best game so far, played at a high level and with the usual intensity when these two rivals meet. One could only wish that the same could be said about the remaining quarterfinals, but Denmark did such an impressive job in the early part of their game against Hungary that the game was essentially over at half-time. On paper, the France-Croatia match-up seemed promising, but it was soon apparent that the French team really was just a pale copy of what they have been during their dominance in recent years. There was no cohesiveness, no leadership and, above all, no determination. Croatia was clearly the stronger team throughout the game, and it was pathetic to hear the French comments afterwards about a narrow loss.

The semifinal Denmark-Croatia started in the same way as the Danish quarter-final, with great goalkeeping, alert and agile defense and smart scoring by Eggert and others. But Croatia, where Duvnjak now clearly is the new leader, never gave up. They got to within three goals seconds before the half-time whistle, and the flailing Alilovic took up the competition with Landin at the other end. The pace in the second half was tremendous, with no time for extended attacks. It sometimes looked more like ‘ping-pong’. Croatia desperately tried to catch up, but Denmark always seemed to have an answer. And in the end it became clear that Denmark just had too many different weapons, so the 30-24 win was fully justified. I want to add that it was a very fair and sportsmanlike game.

This means we know have a Spain-Denmark final, pretty much what I had hoped for and believed in. Let us now hope for a ‘grand finale’!

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Article by Christer Ahl

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