Not Enough Hours in Day for the Blowout Matches
I’ve been watching a lot of IHF Women’s World Championship Handball the past few days. A lot. Easily the most I ever have, mostly due to the time difference with Japan and my adoption of time shifting. I wake up and I have 6 to 12 matches to watch at my leisure.
But, there aren’t enough hours in a day to watch everything and undermanned Australia taking on the big dogs in the Group of Death was pretty low on my priority list. Seriously, I suspect no handball minnow has ever been put into such a tough and utterly hopeless group.
Some Interesting Handball Math
As I was calculating the different scenarios for Group B this morning, though, I came to realize that there was a distinct possibility that France and Brazil could en up in a two team tie, level on 5 points. And, since they had played to a 19-19 draw the next tiebreaker to decide which team would advance to the Main Round was Goal Differential in All Games Played.
Alas, that scenario didn’t play out. France beat Germany and Denmark beat Brazil. Eliminating Brazil and setting up a winner take all match between France and Denmark to advance to the Main Round.
But… It could well have happened. And, if the matches had turned out differently today the Brazil – Australia match on Friday would have become bizarrely compelling.
Compelling, because Brazil would have had the challenge of beating Australia by around 45-50 goals to catch France on Goal Differential. The exact number of goals needed is speculation, because the results required didn’t happen. Going in to today’s matches France was at +37 and Brazil was at -12 for a total difference of 49. IF France had lost and Brazil had won that difference would have shrunk to at least 47.
That’s a lot of goals. Which got me thinking how did France get such a huge GD? And, of course, the answer is the 46-7 scoreline over Australia earlier in the week. Yes, someone on coach Olivier Krumbholz’s staff was way ahead of me on this possibility. So, out of curiosity I took a closer look at this game I normally would never have given a second thought to.
Not Your Typical Big Fish – Minnow Game
And, sure enough it was not your typical big fish – minnow match. (Hey, I’ve played a few of those and know exactly how they generally play out.) The big fish rests some of his starters for the games later that matter. The minnow plays hard, maybe hangs around a bit, but the scoreline gradually stretches to 5 goals… 10 goals… 15…. 20… at which point the big fish relaxes a little bit. Still plays hard… but, not super hard. Works on his set offense a little bit. Tries some different combinations. The minnow plays hard the whole match. Maybe even does a little bit better than one would expect because the other team is kind of in cruise mode. Depending on the size of the respective fishes the scoreline is typically in the 15-25 goal range.
Uhh… That was not this game. Not even close. France looked to score at every opportunity. They were relentless and really, really pushed the fast break even in the dying minutes of the match. The defense was also strong throughout as Australia only managed 7 goals in 60 minutes. A comprehensive beat down. 46-7. +39 goals. And, you know what. Credit to the Aussies… They played hard the whole way against the defending World Championships. If they hadn’t… I shudder to think what that final margin might have been.
France – Australia Match Video: Link
An Interesting Hypothetical
Which leads to a very interesting hypothetical. France poured it on… just in case. An insurance policy. What if instead, it wasn’t a maybe. But, a no kidding, you must win by 50 goals. How would such a match play out?
Brazil is a bit older and not quite as capable in the run and gun mode as France and France won by 39. To get 11 more goals would require more creativity, essentially more risks. Some possibilities:
- A basketball style full court press
- Relentless marking of Australia’s two or three players (with more experience) to force their very inexperienced players into turnovers.
- 7 v 6 for the entire match
- Shooting at the first possibility, even if it is kind of a crazy shot just to up the tempo
Would it work? I don’t know. Even more interesting would be Australia’s reaction. Suddenly, no longer playing a meaningless group play match, but now a match with real consequences. And, to an extent being a bit insulted. Pride would surely kick in. You gonna play crazy style against us… maybe will just slow this game down a bit.
Again, I don’t know how this would play out. It sure would have been something to watch though.
I can just picture it: French fans going wild and cheering on Australia as they cut the margin to 45 with a last second goal as the clock expires.