W handball prelims: Round 5 preview - WSMV News 4

Women's handball preliminaries: Round five preview

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Group A: Montenegro (0-4) vs. Brazil (3-1)

Brazil have just about locked up one of the top two spots in Group A, currently sitting behind Norway on goal differential. Their form has looked just a little bit slow since they jumped to 2-0 in group play. If it wasn't for that four minute stretch of brilliance in the second half that lifted them over Angola, Brazil could very well likely be 2-2 right now. 

They next play a Montenegro team that just has not lived up to expectations, and it should not pose that great of a threat. Deonise Fachinello has really picked up her game and emerged as a viable alternative if Alexandra do Nascimento and Ana Paula Belo cannot get it going. That doesn't mean Montenegro should be overlooked, though. Despite its 0-4 record, this team's put up a lot of fight, and few have fought harder for their teams than Katarina Bulatovic. She's her team's leading scorer and chief playmaker. But, still, it's going to take a lot to drag down a team that look destined for a medal in these Games. 

Group B: Sweden (2-1-1) vs. France (3-1)

These two teams may have already qualified to advance, but this is an incredibly important match. The winner will likely finish in the top two, while the loser will either play Norway or Brazil in the quarterfinals. And neither of these teams want that challenge so soon. 

Natalie Hagman's been the key for Sweden and she was beyond exceptional against the Netherlands, scoring 12 goals. She's going to face the best defense in the league, now, that continues to destroy the rhythmn and pace of any opposition threat. Hagman very well may not have a big game as she'll most likely be closed down every time she touches the ball, so it's going to be up to her teammates to move the ball around and find those small pockets that France give from time to time. 

Group B: Netherlands (1-2-1) vs. Russia (4-0)

This match features, perhaps, two of the most difficult teams to pin down. Russia may be 4-0, but that doesn't mean they are perfect. Far from it, actually. They were lucky to survive against Argentina - switching Anna Yvakhireva from right wing to right back sealed the deal. Russia have the ability to go from absolute class to quite disorganized and disenchanted in a heartbeat, but they've somehow managed to right the ship at just the right moments. 

The Netherlands, like Russia, are also a bit streaky when it comes to play, though they don't contain as many scoring threats as Russia does. Expect lots of twists and turns in what will most likely be a wild match. 

Group A: Norway (3-1) vs. Romania (2-2)

Romania have fought so hard to get back to 2-2 in group play and give themselves a fighting chance to advance to the semifinals. Currently, they're sitting at fifth because their goal differential is slightly worse than Angola's. Romania likely won't win this game as Norway have been dominant in every game since their opening round shocker. But will Cristina Neagu find it in herself to keep the game close? If Romania can hang tight for just a little bit, and if Angola get beaten badly by Spain, then Romania will find themselves in the quarterfinals.

Group A: Spain (2-2) vs. Angola (2-2)

Angola are reeling. They started off 2-0 and convincingly beat the two teams at the bottom of the group (Montenegro, Romania). Then they get heavily beat by the two best (Brazil, Norway). How will they fare against Spain, who are directly in the middle of the table? Spain beat Brazil, but didn't get the job done against Romania. This is a strange match, certainly. Natalia Maria Bernardo will need to continue where she left off against Brazil. And Luisa Kiala's got to find a way to get herself playing well again. This Angola team have been on the verge of advancing to the quarterfinals for the better part of a week, but a loss here could see them just missing the target. 

Nerea Pena, Elizabeth Pinedo and Alexandrina Cabral have all emerged as Spain's primary weapons and top goal scorers. Spain look stronger on paper and have been perfoming better this entire torunament and should come out with the victory. Like Romania, Angola will have to rely on goal differential.

Group B: Argentina (0-4) vs. South Korea (0-1-3)

The final match of the day is also the most inconsequential as these two teams are already eliminated. It's been an incredibly disappointing tournament for South Korea and one that they surely want to reclaim some of that pride lost, so expect them to come firing on all cylinders against Argentina. 

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