2020 Men’s European Handball Championship (Gold Medal Match)

Spain and Croatia duel for the title.

The European Championships conclude today with the Gold Medal final.

Here are the video links, odds and some predictions for those matches.

How to Watch Spoiler FreeLink

Sunday, 26 January
All Times Local (CET) / US ET is -6 hrs)
Odds courtesy of 10Bet <Open an account>

The match can be seen live on Free TV in the the U.S. on beIN Sports XTRA. (How to watch) Check it out. I like ehfTV, but I personally get a better viewing experience with beIN Sports XTRA. The picture quality is better and it’s more reliable than the web stream.

The final will also be rebroadcast in prime time on the beIN Sports Network (regular TV) at 8:00 PM (US ET).

EHF Preview of today’s match: Link

16:30 Spain (-1) vs Croatia (For 1st Place/Gold)
Match Video (On Demand): Link (Commentary: Paul Bray)

Betting Predictions

For this tournament we’ve doing some betting predictions using an imaginary starting bankroll of a 1,000 Euros. Joining me will be professional handball bettor, Samo Košmerl, from Slovenia.

Odds are from the 10 Bet Sportsbook <Open an account>

John’s Pick(s):
– Current Bankroll: 994.92 Euros
– Yesterday’s Result: Germany (-1.5) vs Portugal (1.84, -119); Bet 100 Euros to win 84.03. ; Win 84.03 Euros as Germany won 29-27.
– Today’s Pick: Alternate point spread; Spain (-2.5) vs Croatia (2.3, +130); Bet 100 Euros to win 130. I’ve got nothing to add to Samo’s detailed analysis. He’s got me totally convinced. Heck, I’m tempted to take Spain (-4.5) at (3.45, +245), but I’ll play it relatively safe.

Samo’s Pick(s):
– Current Bankroll: 1795.25 Euros
– Yesterday’s Results: Did not bet
– Today’s Pick: Money Line bet; Spain to win (1.64/-155); Bet 100 Euros to win 64.51

Today, Spain will try to defend the title they won in at the 2018 EURO in Croatia. And, for multiple reasons I think they will indeed win back to back titles.

First of all, Vargas – Corrales GK duo is much better than Šego – Ašanin. I know both Šego and Ašanin have made some big saves in the final minutes of important matches during this tournament, but Vargas is consistent throughout. He is one of the best goalkeepers in the world and even if he is having a slightly worse day, there is always Corrales, another world class GK. There is just no debate: Spain have better goalkeepers.

Croatia’s strongest asset is their back line, but will Cindrić be ready? He has problems with his knee and he wasn’t able to play in the semifinal the way we all expect him to. But ok, they still have Karačič and most importantly, Duvnjak. What a player! He set everything up in the final minutes and overtime. And, not just one overtime, but two overtimes against Norway.

And yes, this 80 minute match will impact their play today. Croatia doesn’t have a great bench, and players like Mamič/Šarac/Hrstič are not (yet) players who can make a big impact in a EURO final. And we all saw how tired were Karačič and Duvnjak at the end of last couple of matches. Sure, there is also Stepančič, their ONLY right back. (I still don’t understand how Červar didn’t bring another RB.) And, because Stepančič is playing 50+ minutes per match in both attack and defense his shooting has not been the best. Only 52% and he is also taking a lot of shots: 54 attempts in 8 matches.

Marič, Croatia’s pivot, had a great match vs Norway, but Spain plays a different style of defense and I don’t think he will get very many useful balls today. As far as wingers go, Spain is much better at this positionl. Their wingers are playing for Barcelona and both of Croatia’s wingers are playing for Zagreb: Enough said.

Finally, let’s talk about each side’s defense. Croatia’s 5-1 defense has been fantastic. Duvnjak should probably win the best defensive player award as well as MVP. He has been amazing. But, will the 5-1 work so well against Spain? Spain is using their wings a lot, and if they can past Duvnjak in the middle they can stretch this Croatian defense out. And, I think they have players to do so. Dujshebaev is playing fantastic, he is in great form and working great with Entrerrios. Plus, there are also Sarmiento, Fernandez and Maqueda, all with solid tournaments so far and this allows Ribera to rotate and keeping playing at a high tempo in attack. Croatia will really need to perform on another level in defense to stop all the possible threats Spain has to offer.

The best part of this Spain team is (still) their defense. Combined, Morros and Guardiola are 71 years old, but they are still one of the best defensive pairs in the world. Croatia are the most dangerous in the middle, but this is also where Spain’s defense is the strongest. Any and all turnovers are punished as we saw in semifinal against Slovenia. And, rest assured with Croatia playing their 9th match in 17 days, there will be mistakes. Croatia will try to slow down the game to limit Spain’s fast break opportunities much the same way they did against Norway.

Overall, Croatia has an amazing back line, but you need more than that to win against Spain. They will have 10k+ fans behind them and players will feel like they are playing at home, but Spain won their last EURO with fewer fans backing them and they are just too good to not do it again.