There’s little doubt that NPR’s Stefan Fatsis, is America’s #1 mainstream media reporter Team Handball fan. Just this past Monday, Fatsis gave a shout out (starts at 58:15) to the USA Men’s National Team for their qualification for the PANAM Games and at the same time put out a plea for more Team Handball viewing opportunities. Well what Fatsis requests, the European Handball Federation (EHF) delivers. And in a big way starting on Wednesday with 2 critical European Championship Qualification matches webstreamed for free at ehfTV.com
European Qualification for Team Handball can often be a humdrum affair with top teams quickly distancing themselves from weaker teams in their group leading to inconsequential games in the final rounds. Not so in Group 5 this year as Austria, Germany and Iceland are locked in a 3 way battle for two spots. All three sides control their own destiny and the first pivotal match will be Austria hosting German Wednesday night. Austria leads the group with 7 points and Germany is in 2nd place with 5 points. An Austria win would qualify Austria and put Germany in a dire straight as Iceland, currently in 3rd place with 4 points will likely knock off winless Latvia to move into in 2nd place with 6 points. Germany, in all likelihood will pick up 2 points from Latvia on Sunday as well, but then they will need an already qualified Austria to knock off Iceland in Iceland. So, translation: This is must not lose situation for Germany. (Also, based on goal differential for a three way tie, Germany would be in good shape with a draw)
But it’s also a key match for Austria, because they surely know that beating Germany in Innsbruck is going to be a whole lot easier then beating Iceland in Reykjavik. Should Austria lose to Germany the Iceland-Austria on Sunday will become a true elimination game with the winner punching a ticket to the EURO 2012 and the loser staying home.
The 3rd match has Lithuania hosting Spain. At first glance, this looks to be a showdown between two sides fighting for one remaining spot. And indeed both sides are level on 4 points. Only problem is that Spain is clearly a better side (they won the first head to head match in Spain 33-17) and Lithuania has to travel to Croatia on Sunday. So, even if Lithuania pulls off the upset, they’ll likely need Spain to lose again to Romania.
Handicap point spread in parenthesis
Wednesday, 8 June, 2011, 2015 CET (1415 US East Coast)
Germany (-1.5) at Austria
ehfTV On Demand: http://www.ehftv.com/ech/adults/men/2012/video/001751
AUDIO Commentary popup is below (Synch with the ehfTV video webstream)
Thursday, 9 June, 2011, 1845 CET (1245 US East Coast)
Spain (-6.5) at Lithuania
ehfTV Live Link: http://www.ehftv.com/ech/adults/men/2012/live/high/001750
ehfTV On Demand: http://www.ehftv.com/ech/adults/men/2012/video/001750
Sunday, 12 June, 2011, 1630 (Iceland Time) (1230 US East Coast)
Austria at Iceland
ehfTV Live Link: http://www.ehftv.com/ech/adults/men/2012/live/high/001752
ehfTV On Demand:http://www.ehftv.com/ech/adults/men/2012/video/001752
Subject to the on demand streams being posted in timely manner and the demands of the Ryan family household I will do an audio commentary of the Austria matches.
Stefan Fatsis article in NY Times (11 May 2009) Team Handball Has It All…: http://www.stefanfatsis.com/2009/05/11/team-handball-has-it-all/