Handball European Championship: Austrians go “all in” against Iceland

Austria would be assured of this if they were successful against the third-placed team in the 2010 European Championship, and a draw could also be enough if Hungary did not win against France. Nobody wants to play math games in Red-White-Red anyway. “We are all at the limit, but this is something almost unique, you tear yourself apart for a tournament like this,” promised director Lukas Hutecek before game seven. “We’ll throw everything in again. I’m confident, then we’ll work out another game.”

It would be a shame if you couldn’t crown what was probably the best performance at a final round with the best placement. Eighth place at the home European Championships 2020 is the record in the annals; in the event of a defeat, there is a risk of falling back to fifth place in the main round group, which would most likely be ninth place in the final. Don’t waste any thought on that either. The 28:33 against France on Monday, the first defeat in the tournament, “absolutely did not dampen the mood,” assured Hutecek. “We are so happy and proud of what we were able to show here. We’ll be just as hot.”

Handball European Championship: Showdown against Iceland

Austria’s handball men will be in the European Championship showdown against Iceland in Cologne on Wednesday. In the last game of the main round there is still a chance of reaching the semi-finals.

Lost two tests against Iceland

France proved against Austria that, together with Denmark and Sweden, they are one of the absolute top teams. Only at a certain distance does Europe’s “second tranche” follow, which – like Iceland – now also includes red-white-red. Two points against the sixth place in the 2022 European Championships or the twelfth place in the 2023 World Cup is a very realistic scenario. Even though the two tests against Iceland at the beginning of January were lost 28:33 and 30:37.

“We saw how good they are,” recalled Pajovic, whose team gave a foretaste of what was to come with a strong performance in the second of the test duels. For the team from the volcanic island, however, the final round didn’t quite go according to plan.

GEPA/Norbert Schmidt Austria’s handball players want to give it their all again against Iceland

In the preliminary round there was a win over Montenegro and a draw against Serbia as well as a clear defeat against Hungary. In the main round they lost against Germany and France, with only a win against the Croatians on Monday.

“We are now ‘on fire’”

The loss of star back Gisli Kristjansson, who injured his foot in the Croatia match, doesn’t help Iceland, which stands for fast play and the danger in one-on-one situations. “They are not playing a perfect European Championship,” said Pajovic, who wants to take advantage of the moment. “We are ‘on fire’ now and we believe in it.”

The Austrians are still worried about defense chief Lukas Herburger, who was already absent against the French due to illness. “It is relatively difficult to make a prediction,” emphasized ÖHB sports director Patrick Fölser, who, despite the stress, still believes the team can do everything before game seven within 13 days. “Everyone is in pain, of course everyone is broken. But so much euphoria and will that everyone will give it their all again. The Icelanders are tired too.”

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