As Spain and Germany set out from Wroclaw to Krakow for the semi-final round, two other teams are heading in the opposite direction for the EHF EURO 2016 placement matches. The disappointed defending champions from France and tournament hosts Poland will face Denmark and Sweden respectively in the consolation round.
Meanwhile, the surprising passage of Norway to the semi-final means Russia, who finished in 9th position, are back in the race for the Olympic Qualification Tournament ticket. If Norway win the EHF EURO 2016 they will qualify directly for the Rio 2016 Olympics and Russia will take their place in the qualification tournament.
Placement Match 7/8: Poland vs Sweden, Friday 29 January, 16:15 local time
For the first time in the tournament Poland leave Krakow and local fans in Wroclaw can look forward to watching their favourites live on court. However, it comes with the price of not participating in the medal round.
What looked like a sure thing after Poland won three straight games in the preliminary round quickly turned from a walk in the park to a nightmare after two sensations on Wednesday night. First Norway stunned France, then Croatia steamrolled Poland in the final Group 1 match, sending two of the favourite medal contenders out of the race.
The game against Sweden will be the last match with Michael Biegler at the helm of the Poland team, as he resigned after their loss against Croatia on Wednesday. He and the team will do everything they can to finish the tournament on a high note.
Sweden, on the other hand, will be looking to extend their unbeaten streak to four games after two draws, with Russia and Denmark, and a clear victory over Hungary in the main round.
In a rich history of competitive matches between these two countries Sweden hold the upper hand as they have won 11 times and drawn on four occasions in 23 encounters.
Placement Match 5/6: France vs Denmark, Friday 29 January, 18:30 local time
After two years France and Denmark will again lock horns in their final match at the EHF EURO.
However, while they met in the gold medal match in Herning in 2014, the two disappointed tournament favourites will only take the court in the play-off match for fifth place match this time around.
Although for both teams it will be difficult to regroup for their farewell to Poland 2016 after Wednesday’s bitter defeats, Denmark will play for more than pride – their biggest all-time EHF EURO defeat, from the 2014 final (32:41) at home, is still fresh in the players' memory.
The two traditional rivals have met twelve times on the international court, with France winning seven times, including on both occasions at a European Championship (1996 and 2014).