Photo: Dražen Aleksić/ CroPix
Written by Ante Kvartuč/Matt ‘GoldenChild’ Lebo
Croatia’s national handball side, the Cowboys, completed a perfect group record at the 2012 European championships in Serbia after a fairly easy 26-20 win over Norway Friday night. With the victory, and previous wins over Slovenia and Iceland, Croatia ensure themselves that maximum points will be carried over to the Main Round.
The Cowboys played a solid first half which ended 13-8 in their favor. Coach Slavko Goluža said after the game, “we should have ended the match in the first period, but we missed too many chances.” Norway came out in the second half with a little more fire and were able to knock the lead down to two at one point. Unfortunately, Erlen Mamelund was the only answer that Norway could provide throughout the match. Aside from one player, the defense was able to handle what the Norwegians threw at them, helping them cruise to a 26-20 victory.
Even though this was a solid victory for the Hrvati, I still had some critiques. First, Goluža is not received very well by a large number of Croatian handball enthusiasts. Whether it’s his plan of attack or his lackluster spirit in team huddles, this guy just does not do it for me. After watching this week’s games, he is more of a coach who is there to state the obvious instead of teach and coach. Second, we aren’t known for the greatest offense, but there is still a lot left to be desired. With most of our attacks coming down the middle, there really seems to be little creativity from all sides of the field.
Croatia-Iceland Highlights @ 7:50
If we want to win the championship this year, we need to get a little more creative and stop depending so heavily on what Ivano Balić is going to do. Finally, it looks like the same emotional mentality runs through every one of our sports teams. The score may say different, but Norway had a chance to come back today. Goluža pulled Balić and Lacković out midway through the second half with a five-goal cushion. Within a few minutes, Norway was in our rearview mirror, and there was still about 15 minutes remaining in the game. After putting Balić and Lacković back into the game, you could hear Goluža yelling to his players to stop being nervous as Norway slowly crept back into the game. Luckily for the Hrvati, they got their minds back into the game and pulled away with a cushy victory.
Players of the game:
Balić – The spinorama + beautiful goal capped off his solid performance
Lacković – Solid contribution to both sides of the ball
Ćupić – 6/6 from 7m and 6/9 on goal.
Alilović – Another good performance in goal.
Euro 2012 Handball Day 3 Highlights
Croatia have full momentum going into the Main Round where they will start at the summit with four points. Even though they topped their group, they are going up against some very stiff competition. Spain and Hungary were both able to take down the champs from France in two very exciting games. If Croatia hope to progress, they are going to have a lot of work to do on both sides of the ball.
Croatia open up against a hot Spain team on January 22nd before facing the ‘thorn in their paw’ France two days later. The French have denied Croatia a world championship on home turf in 2009 and then a European crown one year later in Austria. With two losses in the opening round, watch for the French to come out with a ton of fire. I know we need to look at beating Spain first, but if we’re able to topple the French, I think we’ll finish in the top two of the group and move on.
“We have to stay grounded. It’s not over yet.” -Croatia left back, Blaženko Lacković
Croatia-Slovenia Highlights @ 5:45
Croatia basically threw that game away, they had no business losing that one.
They still control their destiny, but this result makes the France and Hungary match pretty much must wins. Maybe they can get away with a draw in one of them, but 4 points will certainly see them in the semi’s
Spain vs Cro
No worries. We like it if people would post comments related to the post. I just put up a post where you can talk soccer every starting Friday nights.
English clubs eye Rangers striker Nikica Jelavic
I realize this is not on topic. All apologies.
I was not sure because I had to go back quite a few pages to find relevancy.
Serbia are decent, but not one of the top teams in Europe. But they have a promising generation apparently. It helps that they are hosting, is normal circumstances they wouldn’t have beaten Denmark.
Look at Macedonia for example, on paper one of the weaker teams in the tournament yet they advanced to the next round as they have had great support as well
I expect more fans for Croatia in the upcoming games, it can’t get worse than the # of Croatian fans in Vrsac
Speaking of terribly one sided, try checking out the Serbian promotional commercial on Youtube during the games. I think there is two times where you see a Croatian jersey, and that’s when we’re getting scored on.
No, Serbia has never done much in its history, but they have a decent squad here and are very capable of making the semis.
I am still not sure our guys will get to the finals for one simple reason. The refs are known to be terrible and heavily influenced by home crowds and I just cant see a croatian team playing for the finals in Beograd. Hope to be wrong.
@ Jersey Cro
Is Serbia even that good? They’ve never done anything in handball in their history.
France is basically done, but you can’t just give up on a former champ. Both of their losses have gone down to the wire. Hungary’s keeper played out of his mind today, and some of the acrobatics that their guys were throwing out were ridiculous.
to me, France is practically done, but Iceland and Slovenia are easier competition than Spain/Hungary.
Croatia beat Spain twice in qualifying, so that should give them confidence, but it will be a tough match. Hungary has a good support, probably second best behind hosts Serbia.
Maybe I’m falling into the trap, but I feel Croatia will be at the semi’s.
Nice job. Now do what has to be done: win this tournament. We have the qualities, we have the guts.
Good warm up for France and Spain. Lets see how our boys perform against the big boys. idemo dalje