The quarterfinals are officially set following five rounds of play in men's handball. Here are the final group standings.
Group A Standings:
1. Croatia: 8 points (+13 goal differential) -- win tiebreaker over France
2. France: 8 points (+26)
3. Denmark: 6 points (+9)
4. Qatar: 5 points (-5 )
5. Argentina: 2 points (-16)
6. Tunisia: 1 points (-27)
Group B Standings:
1. Germany: 8 points (+12)
2. Slovenia: 8 points (+11)
3. Brazil: 5 points (-9)
4. Poland: 4 points (-1)
5. Egypt: 3 points (-14)
6. Sweden: 2 points (+1)
Group A: Qatar (2-1-2) advance to QF's, eliminate Argentina (1-4) in 22-18 win
The knockout phase of this tournament may not officially start until Wednesday, but it was win-or-go-home for these two teams on Monday night. Qatar, who were supposed to be well above in the standings by now, have struggled since that opening round victory against Croatia. And Argentina have proved themselves to live up to the Los Gladiadores nickname.
It didn't start out well for Argentina, who quickly found themselves down 0-3 and a two-minute suspension. Federico Pizarro helped his team get settled in five minutes into the match with a fast break opportunity.
Argentia struggled to get through that Qatari defense, though, stalwarted by center back Hassan Malbrouk and Bassel Alrayes. With Danijel Saric guarding the net and Rafael Capote and Zarko Markovic ready to pounce at the break, it was going to be a tough go for Argentina.
Argentina were given a reprieve, down 4-8, with Alrayes serving a two minute suspension. And they delivered, breaking through the center of the court - Pablo Simonet brought them back down to within two.
Markovic worked to push back the Argentinian line, but they tightly marked him. The various Argentinan defensive shapes caused Qatar trouble in moving the ball through the six meter line. But Saric caused Argentina more trouble. The keeper saved 47% of shots faced for his Qatari side.
Qatar applied the pressure early in the second half, teasing to open up the lead as Argentina struggled to fight back from a four goal deficit. The Argentinian defense still stood, forcing the turnover and ensuing fast break. They soon saw themselves down by just two.
A steal by Abdulrazzq Murad opened the lead back to four 15 minutes into the second half. Five minutes later and Qatar were up by five with a strike by Capote - the largest lead thus far.
Then tiredness and anxiety crept in for the Argentinians who took ill-advised shots, and their chance at a quarterfinal slot seemed to be fading fast. And then there was Saric, who sealed each side's fate with crucial saves in the closing minutes.
For Qatar that means a spot in the quarterfinals and, for Argentina, a ticket home.
Group A: Croatia (4-1) crush Tunisia (0-1-4) 41-26
Croatia laid the hammer down on hapless Tunisia in their final game before the quarterfinals. Croatia jumped to a very quick lead and kept their foot on the breaks, forcing six turnovers in the opening 10 minues alone.
Igor Karacic led the scoring with nine goals. Ivan Cupic, Ilija Brozovic and Marko Mamic all scored five goals.
Group B: Brazil (2-1-2) thumped by Sweden (1-4) 19-30
Brazil's group phase closed on a sour note.
Brazil again started off flat again, down 4-9 in the first 15 minutes of play. But this time, with no standing to fight for, this team lacked any sense of urgency or spark and Sweden eased to victory.
Sweden's victory marks the end of an underwhelming Olympics campaign.
Group A: France (4-1) edge Denmark (3-2) in 33-30
The afternoon session pitted two heavyweights against each other, and possibly a preview of the gold medal match. It also featured Mikkel Hansen and Nikola Karabtic, two of the best players on the planet. Hansen got things started with two quick goals to give Denmark the early lead.
With two sides that play a physically demanding style on offense, both sides were going to be extra aggressive on defense that would surely lead to some fouls. Denmark received their first two - just 30 seconds from each other.
There were also going to be a wide variety of goals, with both teams possessing assets to strike from the center and the winger. Valentine Porte and Luc Abalo would be challenged by Lasse Svan and Hansesn. Daniel Narcisse and Martis Olssen would square off in the middle.
Kentin Mahe gave France a three goal lead following a shot by Kentin Mahe on the fast break. Svan came off injured in the 25th clutching his left arm after a collision with Mahe. He would return in the 29th minute.
A strong finish by Denmark saw them head into halftime down by just one. They continued that momentum into the second half as Hansen and Svan gave Denmark the two goal advantage.
Then it was time for Karabatic to make his mark on the court. His mere presence alone attracted at least two Danish defenders, opening up space in the middle for his younger brother Luka and Porte to both score - giving France back the lead midway through the second half that they later extended to three.
Denmark suffered another injury in the 23rd minutes as Hansen suffered a strike to the eye. The Dane, whose eye was bleeding, had to be taken off the court before his head was bandaged.
France held onto the three goal advantage well into the final three minutes of the game. But AdrienDipanda's two minute suspension allowed Denmark to finish the game with a one-man advantage. Narcisse, who wrestled his way to the breakthrough, scored his eighth goal to reclaim a three-goal lead in the final minute and thwart any attempt at a Danish counterattack.
Group B standings update: The four teams that will advance to the quarterfinals (in order) are: Germany, Slovenia, Brazil and Poland.
Group B: Egypt (1-1-2) eliminated after 25-31 loss to Germany (4-1)
With Poland falling to Slovenia earlier this morning, Egypt had the chance to sneak into fourth position and a quarterfinal slot.
Germany slogged ahead in the opening 15 minutes of play, grabbing a crucial three goal lead. A two minute penalty after that, though, gave Egypt a chance to get back in it. They made the most of it, getting back to within one off a short-handed German team.
Germany, though, continued to showcase their composure, opening a five goal lead late in the half off several fast break opportunities.
Egypt entered the second half needing to get through that nine meter perimeter. They were scoreless from that spot in the first half, while missing only twice from the six meter mark. Their troubles continued in the second half, still down by three goals well into play. They struggled defending Tobias Reichmann, who scored six goals.
Uwe Gensheimer led Germany in scoring, though, with seven goals.
Meanwhile, the German defense continued to hold off Egypt. They still shot poorly from beyond nine meters. It was all Germany from there, who shut down any chance of Egypt making a surprise quarterfinal run.
Group B: Slovenia (4-1) ease past Poland (2-3) 25-20
Poland needed at least a draw to secure a quarterfinal berth in the men's handball competition. They jumped out to a 4-0 lead early, but Slovenia weathered the storm and brought the game back on level terms at the end of the half.
Miha Zarebic was the leading scorer for Slovenia today, recording seven goals.
The Slovenian defense showed up in the second half, stifling the Poles' attempts to get through the six meter crease. Poland were forced to attempt 18 shots from the nine meter line.
Poland are still fourth in Group B with this loss; however, if Egypt defeat Germany, then Egypt will leapfrog Poland in the standings.