The 2018 European Championships start today and as usual France are the established favorites for this major tournament. They are closely followed by hosts Croatia and Olympic Champions, Denmark. Further down the list are Spain, defending champions Germany and World Championship runners up, Norway.
2018 European Championships Odds (Courtesy of Best Betting)
|France||2.25 to 1|
|Croatia||3 to 1|
|Denmark||4.25 to 1|
|Spain||8 to 1|
|Germany||9 to 1|
|Norway||14 to 1|
|Sweden||25 to 1|
|Slovenia||40 to 1|
|Hungary||50 to 1|
|Serbia||100 to 1|
|Macedonia||200 to 1|
|Iceland||225 to 1|
|Belarus||500 to 1|
|Czech Rep||500 to 1|
|Austria||1000 to 1|
|Montenegro||1000 to 1|
The EHF website has a nice preview article on each nation participating.
EHF “Countdown” articles on each nation: Link
The Stregspiller Website has several good interview and previews of the tournament and the chances of the top teams
Peter Bruun’s summary is excellent and I pretty much concur with all of his analysis. In particular, the following:
“Still, France possesses sufficient power and quality to be my top pick for winning the title. However, much will depend on the performance of Nikola Karabatic – more so now than ever before. France with or without their charismatic leader is a very different team, and if Karabatic can’t deliver, “Les Bleus” won’t even reach the semi-finals.”
Recently, I was amused somewhat about twitter postings regarding possible MVPs and key players for the tournament. Amused in that there wasn’t much talk about Karabatic, who I still think is the best player in the world. (Probably, the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) as well, but, that’s fodder for a longer commentary). And, for sure, shepherding this talented, but relatively inexperienced team to a title as a 33 year old veteran would be a big legacy statement. But, then again flaming out in the Main Round would also make a statement.
I’m a little bit less enamored with Croatia despite being the host. As with France and Karabatic much of Croatia’s success hinges on Domagoj Duvnjak. Reportedly, he’s back in fine form after being out for several months due to injury, but I will need to see that with my own eyes in a non-friendly match to believe it. Perhaps they can still be willed into the semifinals as the host nation regardless, but I have my doubts. Looking to the Main Round the would be Norway-Croatia match might be pivotal for advancement
In Groups C and D, I think Denmark and Germany are pretty clear favorites and it wouldn’t surprise me if they both end up with unblemished records, excepting of course their head to head matchup. Spain could surprise, but I don’t think any of the other teams have the personnel to match up with them.
For the Final Four. I’ll go with France beating Germany in one semi and Denmark beating Norway in the other. And, then France getting revenge over Denmark in the Final.
Gotta Love the Format
Personally, I wax and wane as to whether the Preliminary/Knock out stage or Preliminary/Main Round format is better. There’s a lot of drama in a Round of 16, but, this European Championship sure makes a strong case for the latter. Day 1 and we’ve got a rematch of the WC Final between Norway and France. A match that could very well put the loser on the cusp of not making the semifinals. Wow, talk about a riveting way to start out the tourney!
EHF Stepping Up their Game on the Media Side: Link
Well, I’ll jump the gun a bit and assume that the EHF will not have any geoblocking of the championship like 2 years ago. Hopefully, a good assumption. Every match should be available at ehfTV live and on demand. Viewers in the U.S. should get their “boss key” working as pretty much every day for the next 2 weeks will have 3 or 4 matches available for viewing around Mid-day depending on your time zone.
Further, it looks like they will have a daily show with highlights and interviews which should be an outstanding way to catch up on the competition and get fired up for the upcoming matches. They will also be live tweeting conversations and Snap Chat.