presented by

Small steps towards a greater goal

EHF EURO 2016 first qualification phase preview: Luxemburg, Great Britain and Ireland the hosts for two matches each

At the same time as rounds 3 and 4 of the second qualification stage for the Men’s EHF EURO 2014 in Denmark take place, the next matches of the first qualification phase for the Men’s EHF EURO 2016 in Poland are being played from Wednesday to Sunday.

Luxemburg, Great Britain and Ireland are the home nations for overall six matches, meaning that each of them will face two rivals over the next few days.

This qualification phase will conclude with the final six matches in the three groups in the middle of June.

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.

Currently Finland in Group A, Greece in Group B, and Estonia in Group C are in the best position with the maximum of four points from two matches.

Group A: Luxemburg vs. Cyprus; Wednesday, 19:30 hrs. local time, Luxemburg

Can Luxemburg capitalise on the success of Luxemburg club, HB Esch, who reached the semi-finals of the EHF Challenge Cup, to be successful against Cyprus?

As for the first time a Luxemburg team have made it to the semi-finals of an EHF European Cup competition, handball is the game of the day in Luxemburg.

However, like Cyprus, the hosts have zero points in their account, after both teams were defeated by Finland in November.

Cyprus beat Luxemburg in the EHF EURO 2012 pre-qualification 27:21.

Group B: Great Britain vs. Italy; Thursday, 19:00 hrs. local time, Motherwell

After their Olympic experience at London 2012, things have changed for the British squad.

These days they are the underdogs in their duel with Italy, as their opponent has much more international experience and has shown its improvement in the previous years by some spectacular results.

However, in their last direct encounter, the British team only lost 26:29 in the EHF EURO 2014 pre-qualification.

Group C: Ireland vs. Belgium; Thursday, 19:00 hrs. local time, Dublin

In their second ever EHF EURO qualification campaign, the Irish team can take the opportunity and promote handball in Dublin.

Following an intense preparation led by national team coach Tony Gerona, Ireland hope to show their improvement after they had been crushed 11:40 by Belgium in the EHF EURO 2014 pre-qualification.

The Belgium team needs a victory to keep their hopes alive to finish ahead of Estonia.

An overview of all qualification matches for EHF EURO 2016 in Poland can be found here.

written by Björn Pazen / ts