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07/04/2014

Estonia, Greece, and Finland can make huge steps

EHF EURO 2016 qualification preview: Leading teams in groups A, B, and C on the edge of moving closer to the play-offs

When round 4 of the first qualification phase for the Men's EHF EURO 2016 throws off on Saturday (6 April), the same nations as in round 3 will host the home games, however, they will welcome different opponents.

The three leading teams in groups A, B, and C, Greece, Finland and Estonia, could make a huge step towards the next phase, the qualification play-offs, should they all record away victories.

The constellation in all three groups is the same: The three top ranked teams have won their respective matches in the first and second rounds and did not play in round 3.

With currently four points in their account, they would outdistance the 'hunting packhunters” (all equal by 2:2 points) in their matches on Saturday or Sunday at the each third ranked teams, which all zero points.

Only the three group winners from this phase will progress to a knock-out phase where they will meet the three lowest ranked fourth placed teams from EHF EURO 2014 Qualification Phase 2 in two play-off matches, home and away, on 2/3 April 2014 and 5/6 April 2014.

The winners of these play-off matches will join the already qualified remaining participants for the EHF EURO 2016 Qualification Phase 2.

Group A: Luxembourg vs. Finland; Saturday, 17:00 hrs. local time – First leg: 21:28

Following the narrow home defeat against Cyprus (16:17) on Wednesday, Luxembourg hopes have been shattered.

Even a victory against the first ranked team from Finland would not be enough to finish on top, as the team of coach Adrian Stot does not have the fate in its own hands anymore.

Finland won the first leg clearly – and in case of a victory they even could lose their duel against second ranked Cyprus by four goals to still finish on top.

Group B: Great Britain vs. Greece; Sunday, 15:00 hrs. local time – First leg: 14:43

Greece can count on internationally experienced players, mainly from the German Bundesliga, while the British team has just started a full transition.

Even the comeback of Olympic hero, Steven Larsson, did not prevent them from a clear 23:47 defeat on Thursday against Italy.

Greece had beaten Italy away 31:25, so another victory in London would push the gates to the play-offs wide open.

Group C: Ireland vs. Estonia; Saturday, 14:00 hrs. local time – First leg: 13:44

Ireland showed the strongest half-time in their EHF EURO qualification history on Thursday against Belgium (8:11), but finally lost 12:28.

Against Estonia, who will arrive in Dublin including their star, Mait Patrail, from German top team Hannover-Burgdorf, the Irish boys will very likely face a tough time, considering the fact that they lost the match in Estonia 44:13

written by Björn Pazen / ts