Women’s Handball WC “Spoiler Free” Preview (Sunday, 15 Dec) (Finals)

Goalkeeper, Silvia Navarro and Spain will battle the Netherlands for Gold. Both nations are hoping to secure their first world championship. (Photo: Stregspiller.com)

The IHF Women’s World Championships finish up on Sunday with bronze and gold medal matches. Both matches will be broadcast in the U.S. on a tape delayed basis on the NBC Olympic Channel on Sunday afternoon. Fans, that don’t want to wait, however, can watch the Olympic Channel Web Stream (either live or delayed). Both matches are also available on the IHF web stream, but depending on where you live you may need to use VPN.

Sunday, 15 December
All Times Local (CET is -8 hrs / US ET is -14 hrs)
Odds courtesy of Nordic Bet

NBC TV Schedule: Link
How to watch the matches not on NBC: Link

17:30 Bronze Medal Match: Norway vs Russia (-1) (With Commentary from Paul Bray)
– Match airs (delayed) in the U.S on the NBC Olympic Channel at 4:00 PM (US ET)
– Olympic Channel Video Link (No VPN Required in U.S.)
– IHF Website Video Link (VPN Required for some countries)
– IHF Match Preview: Link

Hey, wait a second… Wasn’t this was supposed to the the gold medal match? It sure was. Both nations were favored in the semifinal, but came up short. Russia narrowly lost to the Netherlands, 33-32, while Norway played a lackluster match and was dominated by Spain, 28-22. Now playing for bronze it will be interesting to see how both teams respond after such a let down.

My money is on Russia and right back, Anna Vyakhireva. You wouldn’t know by looking at her short stature, 5’6″, but I think she might be the best women’s player in the world now. Certainly, the top passer. Check out this assist compilation: Link. Clever and quick she seems to play a role in most of Russia’s goals. Either by scoring, assisting or doing something that sets up the offensive opportunity one pass later.

20:30 Netherlands (-.5) vs Spain (With commentary from Paul Bray)
– Match airs (delayed) in the U.S on the NBC Olympic Channel at 5:30 PM (US ET) on Sunday; Also airs on Tuesday at 10:30 PM (US ET) on the NBC Sports Network
– Olympic Channel On Demand Video Link (No VPN Required in U.S.) (posted after the match)
– IHF Website  Video Link (VPN Required for some countries)
– IHF Match Preview: Link

Well, anyone who predicted this as the final coming into the tournament is either a genius or lucky. The Netherlands was 16 to 1 to win the title and Spain was a 33 to 1 long shot.

Spain played consistently for the most part in the preliminary and main rounds, but seemed done for after their last main round match, a comprehensive 36-26 loss to Russia. But, thanks to Montenegro’s defeat of Sweden they got a backdoor entry into the semifinals. And, they didn’t look back. They broke open a close semifinal match (13-13 at halftime) with a dominating performance that shut down Norway offensively on the way to a 28-22 win.

The Netherlands also needed help just to make the semifinals. Fortunately, for them, Norway beat Germany, giving them a back door entry. And, like Spain, they took advantage of the opportunity given to them, beating Russia, 33-32. In doing so, they were also the first team to give the Russians a 60 minute game. The Netherlands have been very consistent in their major tournament performance with a semifinal berth in the last 3 WC, last 2 EC and the 2016 Olympics. But, while consistent they’ve yet to win a title. I’m thinking that may very well change with this World Championship.

Side note: While located in Europe, the Netherlands is not what one would call a “Handball Nation.” There are some clubs in the Netherlands, but it is not nearly as popular or as professional of a sport as it is in Germany, Denmark or France. And, their success may have elements from which nations like the U.S. can draw upon. For more on this topic check out this podcast from 2016

Podcast: Netherlands Women’s Handball: How their 10 year development plan has vaulted them into the world’s elite: Link