After going a perfect 5-0 in the group stage of the 2015 World Handball Championships in Qatar, the Croatian Cowboys were given the ultimate scare this past Sunday against Brazil in the round of 16. In a match they were supposed to comfortably dominate, Croatia went down early, trailing 4th place Group A team Brazil 15-13 at halftime. However, Croatia dug deep in the second half behind five Marko Kopljar goals to defeat the Brazilians 26-25 to set up a date with Poland in the quarterfinals on Wednesday.
Croatia are the favorites to defeat Poland and reach the semifinals, where they would meet Group D winners Germany or tournament hosts Qatar. By winning their group, Croatia avoided perennial handball powers Spain, France and Denmark, whom they can now only play in the Final; as they are on the other side of the draw.
In their past three tournaments, Croatia have finished fourth once and grabbed the bronze medal twice. They are favorites to reach the Final this year, but can Croatia finally get over the semifinal hump and take gold again for the first time since the 2004 summer Olympics in Athens, Greece?