It’s often the case that qualification for major tournaments in Europe follow a set pattern. The favorites secure qualification easily and occasionally there’s a halfway interesting match between a couple of teams that are on the fringes of qualifying.
Not so this time around for the 2018 Men’s European Championships Qualification as they head into the final two rounds of matches. Ridiculously, out of the 28 teams participating in 7 groups of 4, only 3 nations (Spain, Germany and Sweden) have secured qualification and only 1 nation (Latvia) has been eliminated. Sure, I’ll be shocked if France and Denmark don’t qualify, but they may be joined by some unlikely nations like Portugal, Lithuania and the Netherlands. While mainstays of major competitions like Iceland, Russia and Poland are on the precipice of elimination.
The good news is that you can see some of these matches on ehfTV. (I wish there were more, but I won’t complain). Below is a summary of what’s at stake heading into each match. As we head into the summer time doldrums, you might want to hold onto these viewing opportunities. I will put the Full Match On Demand link from ehfTV, so as long as you avoid scores you watch and enjoy on into July and August.
2018 Men’s European Championships Qualification (Wikipedia): Link
Wednesday, 14 June
Group 4: Czech Republic vs Iceland, 1810 CET
Group 4 has seen no favorite emerge and all 4 teams (Czech Republic, Macedonia, Iceland, Ukraine) in the group are level on points with 4 each. Every game in the group has been won by the home side so far and the Czech Republic is in first place with a GD of +10, while Iceland is in 3rd with a GD of -5. So a loss here won’t eliminate either team, but Iceland has more to worry with its current negative goal deficit.
Wednesday 14 June
Group 6: Slovakia vs Russia, 2000 CET
Slovakia and Russia are level on points with 2 each, right behind 2nd place Montenegro with 4 points. Sweden is leading the group with 8 points and is assured of qualification. It’s pretty much a must win game for both Slovakia and Russia and the winner will likely be level on points with Montenegro heading into their final match this weekend.
Thursday, 15 June
Group 2: Romania vs Belarus, 1800 CET
Belarus is in 2nd place with 5 points and Romania is in 3rd place with 4 points. This is virtually a “must win” for Romania as a loss here could eliminate them from qualification. Belarus will also want a win as Romania will leapfrog them in the standing and they face group leaders Serbia in their final match.