The Cowboys finally woke up at this year’s Handball World Championships and gave back-to-back World Champions Denmark all they could handle and more in an enthralling 32-32 tie today. Realistically, Croatia needed to win to advance and played with the desperation of a team knowing this was their last chance, and if this is to be it for them this year, they certainly went down swinging.
In front of a partisan Danish crowd, with the game being played just over the border in Malmo, Croatia came out with the energy and aggressiveness that we have come to expect from them over the years, but had been missing in the loss against Egypt. Croatia led for most of the first half, and went into the locker room up 16-15 at halftime. The most impressive part was keeping Denmark scoreless for a 7-minute span in the 1st Half, which is an eternity in handball.
Even with Marin Šipić playing one of the games of his life, scoring nine goals, it just wasn’t meant to be as Croatia gave up too many penalty shots and picked up too many 2-minute penalties on the night to be able to hang on against a clinical Denmark squad.
If this is to be the end of the Cowboys’ run at this World Championship, this is a performance that they can be proud of. What needs to happen for Croatia to advance now?
Croatia are expected to win out against Belgium and Bahrain and will then need a lot of help from an already qualified Egypt to beat Denmark. Even then, this would leave Croatia and Denmark equal on points, thus going to goal difference, where Croatia trail Denmark by 21 goals currently, with Denmark still to play the USA in a game that they should win by 20+ goals. Croatia will need to win by 20+ against both Belgium and Bahrain just to have a chance (for context, Denmark beat both teams by 15 goals) to make up a 21-goal deficit.
Simply put, it’s very unlikely, but not impossible.
Next up: Croatia-Belgium on Saturday at 18:00 CET