M handball QF's: Recao - WSMV News 4

Men's handball quarterfinals: Recap

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Poland upset Croatia 30-27, advance to SF's

9:00 p.m. 

Croatia embarrassed Poland in the European Championships in Krakow earlier this year. The Poles, almost certain to advance to the final four, were shellacked by Croatia in front of their home crowd. Heads down, shoulders sagged they walked off the court in front of a dejected arena. 

Tonight was there chance to turn the tide in handball's biggest competition. 

Both teams pressed each other, using their physicality to try and break down that line. Karol Bielecki was on fire for Poland early, scoring five goals on his first six attempts. 

Poland moved the ball well, trying to get that tall Croatian defense out of position. The Poles took a five goal advantage late in the first half - Croatia had some work to do to get themselves back in it before it was too late. 

Croatia, led by Domagoj Duvnjak and Manuel Strlek, employed the strategy of trying to use their superior physicality to barge through the middle of the court. 

That led to trouble on the fast break, though. The lack of a winger's presence gave Poland the leeway to quickly transition to the other side of the court with relative ease. 


Croatia looked to finally adapt to playing on the wing in the second half. Three shots from that position brough them back to four. 


Up a man seven minutes in and they looked poised to flex their muscle and strongarm their way back into contention. It worked, too. Power from their usual center court strikes complemented by moving the ball to the outset of the perimeter stretched out what was a more compact Polish defense and it provided a much needed boost for Croatia. 


Croatia were fired up. Another two minute suspension for Poland lent itself perfectly for exploitation to draw the game back on level terms. A rare poor pass by Bielecki was picked up by Strlek, who completed the job and threw it into the open net. 



Poland were scrambling for answers and had difficulty trying to find their way through that Croatian defense. 


Then it was Croatia who served the two minute suspension, and Bielecki provided Poland the one goal advantage. He scored 12 goals in the game on 15 attempts. 


With two minutess remaining Poland held possssion of the ball. Jakov Gojun of Croatia made a hard foul on Bielecki and received a red card, giving Poland a one man advantage in the rest of the game. Poland seized the upset bid following a Croatian turnover, giving them a three goal cushioin in the final minute, a comfortable enough cushion to knock off Croatia. 


Denmark take down Slovenia 37-30

5:30 p.m.

Mikkel Hansen may have been specifically marked, but Slovenia had trouble accounting for the rest of the Danish side. 

As the Denmark defense pushed forward to crowd Hansen, it often opened up space for Martin Olsen to drive in the ball from the pivot position or find Lasse Svan - the deadly winger- from the flank.

Blaz Janc and Marko Kopljak did their best to work from the win and back positions, generally freeing themselves up before striking near the center of the perimeter. Despite their effort, Slovenia had issues matching Denmark's versatility and pace. 

The wingers continued to be the chief threats for Denmark, with Svan and Casper Mortensen having a field day against a thin Slovenian defense. 

For a team that performed so well and so cohesively during the group stage, Slovenia just looked out of sorts against a superior Danish team today. They failed to properly position themselves in defense and just couldn't find a way around Denmark when they held position of the ball. 

Germany set up SF clash with France, cruise past Qatar 34-22

2:00 p.m. 

The Germans were assigned to find a method on how to find their way through a very tough Qatari defensive side coupled by Rafael Capote and Zarko Markovic - not to mention, get the ball past Danijel Saric. 

Germany were superior in moving the ball around and spreading it thin, knowing that getting through the center would be tough to pass. 


Both sides held up very strongly on the back line, giving very little space for any premier strikers to use, but Germany found a way to shoot from six meters just a bit more often. Paul Drux fought his way through his marker to give Germany the four goal advantage. 


With Markovic struggling to get out of being individually marked, Capote took the burden of keeping Qatar within distance of the Germans. Germany's momentum seemed to be building as Qatar continued to struggle (minus Capote) in breaking that defense, and they threatened to run away with the Qatar defense running thin with the presence of Kai Hafner and Uwe Gensheimer.


Germany kept the momentum rolling in the second half, increasing their lead to six goals. 


Qatar's defense began to crumble in the center of the perimeter, giving plenty of space for Fabian Wiede, Gensheimer and Hafner to score. 


The Qatari side continued to look flat. Markovic scored just twice on seven attempts for the game. Qatar had just one fast break for the entire game. 


Gensheimer, Wiede and Reichmann scored five goals apiece for Germany. 


France dash Brazilian hopes in 34-27 QF win

10:35 a.m. 

Brazil faced the incredibly tall task of taking down handball giants, France. After holding them level for the first half, Brazil just could not hold on in the second half. 

The first few minutes looked a bit ominous for Brazil as France quickly jumped to a three goal lead, but Alexandro Pozzer led his team to quickly get a rhythm going and slow down France in transition. Brazil were very quick to reorganize themselves on defense, forcing France to find creative ways to move the ball around the perimeter. 

Michael Guigou's excellence from the wing in the first half is what really bothered Brazil. His presence and excellent touch on the ball caught Brazil off guard several times as he expertly poached from the wing and into scoring position. 

Brail remained competitive in the first half, level at 16 apiece with the two-time defending gold medalists. 

France pulled away midway through the second half off the fast break. Guigou continued to be the primary contributor for France. Daniel Narcisse also applied the pressure from the center back position, pushing his way through the Brazilian back line. 

Pozzer's two minute suspension gave France the opportunity to open up the lead, breaking through the center of the court with the lack of extra Brazilian support. 

France began to look more relaxed after that, smoothly passing and moving the ball around the perimeter. Brazil began to look a bit flat, too, getting a bit more slack on defense and more error prone in their passing and shooting. 

Then it was the French depth that took over, excellently rotating in and out of play to stay fresh against Brazil's mostly-starting seven who found themselves down by six goals in the final nine minutes.

In a match against a giant, the Brazilians just had too tall of a task to pull off the upset and fell short. 


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