W handball prelims: Round 3 preview - WSMV News 4

Women's handball preliminaries: Round three preview

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Group A: Brazil (2-0) vs. Spain (1-1) 

Brazil have been nothing short of exceptional in the tournament thus far, taking down defending champions Norway in the first round and then backed it up with a decisive win over Romania just two days later. This team is beginning to emerge as a favorite for gold. 

Ana Paula Belo is leading the exceptionally fast tempo of Brazil, consistently pushing back the opponents' line. But short goals aren't the only way the Brazilians punish their opponents. They can score from almost anywhere because of how they expertly move the ball from the center to the wings. 

Spain struggled to convert in shooting at or beyond the nine meter line in their loss against Norway. It's going to be a tall task for them to break through that Brazilian line and pace. 

Group A: Romania (0-2) vs. Montenegro (0-2)

Both of these teams have seriously underwhelmed and underperformed in group play and this is a must-win for both involved. 

Romania almost looked like a semi-professional squad against Brazil, consistently turning the ball over on lazy passes and shots. Cristina Neagu certainly can't win this tournament by herself and it's looking less and less likely she'll even win this tournament with her team. It's a disappointing outcome for the best player in the world, but the best player in the world has to draw out the best in her teammates, and Neagu has failed at that. 

Montenegro have also looked like a shell of the silver medal winning team four years ago. The team's disorganization on offense gifted Angola a victory in the second round. Luckily for them, Katarina Bulatovic finally came alive in that game, scoring nine of her own. If they can just tighten up their game a bit more and clean up play on the offensive side of things, Montenegro could turn this tournament around. 

Group B: Russia (2-0) vs. Sweden (2-0) 

Russia looked menacing in their victory over France. Led by Polina Kuznetsova, Russia overhwhelmed the disciplined French defense from the wings. Russia's tempo is absurdly quick and, like Brazil, can score from nearly every angle on the court. 

That doesn't mean it's going to be an easy go versus Sweden, who are coming into this match with a bit of momentum of their own. The Swedes are performing above expecations so far, notching wins over Argentina and South Korea. Nathalie Hagman and Isabelle Gullden have been impressive so far, but it's going to take a serious effort to upset Russia. 

Group A: Norway (1-1) vs. Angola (2-0)

Norway were expected to bounce back in their second round match and they certainly did, showcasing their trademark fluid play the transitional game. They next play against an intriguing Angolan team, that is quietly on its way to making history. As of today, Angola are ahead of the gold medalists in the group and are very close to reaching the quarterfinals. Though a win here - or even a draw, possibly - would surely do the job, it's going to be Angola's tallest task. 

Norway have just so many weapons: from Heidi Loke to Nora Mork and Veronica Kristiansen, this team is built to score in any situation and from any player. This team knows how to build off of its castmates to pick apart defenses. It's going to be interesting to see how Angola plans to contain the many threats at Norway's disposal. 

Group B: Netherlands (1-1) vs. South Korea (0-2) 

Add South Korea to the list of disappointments in this tournament. 0-2 in group play, South Korea's margin for error is shrinking by the day. Will their experience somehow pull them out of their rut? Gwon Han-na has been noticeably absent thus far; she's going to have to improve on her individual effort to lift her team.

The Netherlands grabbed a deserved first-ever Olympic victory a couple nights ago, but the inexperience that this squad has was apparent in the closing minutes. Nycke Groot came in as the expectant to lead the Dutch scoring, put it's been Estevana Pollman putting in work. Tess Wester has also had an incredible tournament in the net. 

Group B: France (1-1) vs. Argentina (0-2) 

France were overwhelmed by Russia's dominant display of athleticism. They will play a much smaller threat against Argentina, who always begin matches with a flair but end up being outclassed as matches wear on. 

This should be a rather straightforward win for France. Allison Pineau, Siraba Dembele and Alexandra Lacrabere should all have dominant performances. 

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