2020 Men’s Olympic Qualification Tournaments Preview (Friday- Day 1)

This Friday, Saturday and Sunday: Three great days of handball Olympic Qualification.

How to watch the Olympic Qualification Tournaments

  • If you live in a country where there is no TV broadcast the matches should be available on the IHF YouTube Channel. Those matches can be accessed here and I will be posting a daily preview with direct links to each match video (see below).
  • If you live in a country where there is a TV broadcast you may be geo-blocked out of accessing the IHF YouTube Channel. This is often the case even for matches that are not available on YouTube. It is, however, usually possible to watch matches using VPN. More information on how to use VPNWhat I use) (Note: I would encourage handball fans to watch matches on TV when possible as usually get a better picture, but if there isn’t a TV broadcast available where you live… what else are you going to do?)
  • USA Residents: There is no USA TV broadcast and matches should be available on YouTube
  • Canadian Residents: The CBC will be live streaming at least some matches: Link

Would you like to know when and where handball matches can be streamed online year round? If yes, follow Team Handball News on social media for regular updates: Twitter Facebook Instagram

CET is 6 hours ahead of US ET. Odds courtesy of 10 Bet.

Tournament 1 (Verde Complex, Podgorica, Montenegro)

Current Standings

Overview: Norway is the overwhelming favorite to win this group and will very likely win all 3 of their matches. Brazil is a clear favorite to take 2nd place, but both Chile and S Korea have chances to pull off an upset. Indeed, Chile beat Brazil, 32-29 at the 2019 PANAM Games to get to this tournament while S Korea has been known to be a very well prepared team with Olympic Qualification on the line.

  • Chile vs S Korea (-2.5) (Friday, 1730 CET / 1130 US ET) Video Link
    • In all likelihood this is an elimination game for these two longshots. The winner will put themselves in a position to play Brazil later in the tournament for 2nd place in the Group.
  • Norway (-6.5) vs Brazil (Friday, 2000 CET / 1430 US ET) Video Link
    • Brazil is the only team with a realistic chance of pulling off an upset vs Norway, but they were inconsistent performers at the 2021 World Championships in January. If things go South for Brazil they may be content with keeping some key players fresh for their upcoming matches vs S Korea and Chile.

Tournament 2 (Sud De France Arena, Montpellier)

Current Standings

Overview: This is the most wide open qualification tournament and all 4 teams having realistic chances at qualifying. France, of course, is playing at home and is the strongest team, but they will need to take care of business against 3 teams that are capable of beating them. Croatia had a disappointing World Championships, but their squad appears to be a bit more healthy now so they are the clear #2 favorite. A few weeks ago I may have listed Portugal as a co-#2 favorite, but the tragic death of GK, Alfredo Quintana, was a real blow to their chances as he was world class in the net and their backup keepers are a big step down in quality. Still, they are an up and coming side that knocked France out of the European Championship in 2020 and narrowly lost to Norway 29-28 this past January at the World Championships. Tunisia are the outsiders of the group, but clearly are capable of pulling off an upset.

  • Tunisia vs Portugal (-2.5) (Friday, 1830 CET / 1230 US ET) Video Link
    • An emotional and motivated Portugal will look to get off to a good start while Tunisia probably sees this match as their best chance for an upset
  • France (-2.5) vs Croatia (Friday, 2100 CET / 1500 US ET) Video Link
    • Includes English Language commentary with Paul Bray
    • The winner of this match between these 2 group favorites will have 1 foot in the door for Olympic Qualification. As a 3-way tie (France, Croatia, Portugal) is a distinct possibility if one of the sides gets behind they will need to keep the game close for Goal Differential considerations.

Tournament 3 (Max-Schmeling-Halle, Berlin)

Current Standings

Overview: It’s hard to see Algeria winning a match in this tournament, so for all practical purposes this is 3 teams (Germany, Sweden, Slovenia) fighting for 2 spots. Hosts, Germany are the favorites, but had a disappointing World Championships due in part to several players opting out of the Championship due to COVID concerns. Those players, however, are back for this tournament and, on paper, that makes Germany slight favorites. Sweden, on the other hand, had a great World Championships, surprising everyone to take 2nd place with a roster full of newcomers. Confidence is surely high for them heading into this tournament. Slovenia had a disappointing World Championship, but came close to some big wins including a 28-28 draw vs Sweden. They also appear to have a few injuries including LB Borut Mackovsek which might hamper their chances

  • Germany (-1.5) vs Sweden (Friday, 1515 CET / 0915 US ET) Video Link
    • Includes English Language commentary with Paul Bray
    • A pivotal match to start this tournament. The winner here puts themselves in a good position to advance. The loser faces a must win later in the tournament vs Slovenia. Again, a 3-way tie level on 4 points is a distinct possibility so the margin of defeat could be critical later on in terms of Goal Differential.
  • Slovenia (-6.5) vs Algeria (Friday, 1745 CET / 1145 US ET) Video Link
    • Slovenia is a heavy favorite here and will look to take care of business early prior to their showdowns vs Germany on Saturday and Sweden on Sunday.