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Date: 12/6/2018

The Women’s EHF EURO 2018 preliminary round has concluded, with 12 teams now progressing to the main round stage, to be played in Nantes and Nancy, France. 11 of the 12 teams that contested the main round in 2016 – Netherlands, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Sweden, France, Germany, Spain, Norway, Denmark and Hungary – qualified from their respective preliminary groups, while Czech Republic are replaced by 2012 Olympic silver medallists Montenegro.


The two bronze-medal winning teams at the previous two World Championships, Romania and the Netherlands, are the only sides to reach the main round with perfect records. The Netherlands topped Group C following three straight victories, including a thrilling one-goal win in round 2 thanks to a last-second goal from 2017 World Championship All-star left back Lois Abbingh. They also defeated Spain and Croatia. Second-ranked Hungary and third-placed Spain followed the Netherlands into the main round in Nancy, while Croatia’s campaign ended after three losses.


Romania were one of the highlights of the preliminary round, as not only did they finish first in Group D, but also broke more than one record. The MVP of the 2015 World Championship, Cristina Neagu passed Germany’s Grit Jurack (194 goals) and Hungary’s Agnes Farkas (205 goals) on the all-time top scorer ranking at the event, reaching first place in Romania’s second game.


“She is a very good, outstanding player, and she deserves to be on the top of the world. She’s a very special player for Romania,” said Jurack of Neagu. “If she’s going like she did in the past she will get a record that can never be beaten in the future. I wish Cristina and the team all the luck they can get – but I hope that Germany will beat them next time!”


Romania finished their preliminary round campaign by setting a record EURO victory over seven-time title winners Norway, following their wins versus Czech Republic and Germany.


EHF EURO 2018 hosts France were competing in Group B. After opening with a defeat to Olympic champions Russia, the current world title holders recovered to take two dominant wins – versus Montenegro and Slovenia. Russia added a victory over Montenegro in round 2, then lost to Slovenia in the final preliminary round match. Montenegro qualified for the main round thanks to their one win, against Slovenia.


Russia, France and Montenegro therefore proceeded to the main round, joining the top three teams from Group A – Serbia, Sweden and Denmark – in Group II. Serbia, Sweden and Denmark all defeated Poland and took turns winning against each other. Serbia beat Denmark, Denmark defeated Sweden and Sweden won against Serbia.


The 12 teams are now starting their main round campaigns, with the top two sides in each group set to qualify for the semi-finals in Paris. More information can be found on the official website of the EHF EURO 2018.

Photo: Nebojsa Tejic / kolektiff