The Slovak handball players will start Monday’s match of the F-group of the European Championships against Russia (from 6 pm in Košice) with the aim of continuing the performance against Lithuania, but also with a promotion ultimatum. That tells them to win by six goals. It is such a goal difference that they need to finalize their progress to the main stage in the event of Norway’s expected triumph over Lithuania. If the Norwegians tripped, all they have to do is conquer Russia by any difference.
The Slovaks achieved a historic victory of 31:26 in Saturday’s match over Lithuania, after which a new goal is ahead of them. It is a step into the next phase, which they still have in their hands. However, Russia’s victory over the favored Norway was not played by the carat 23:22.
With the expected Norwegian triumph in the group’s final match over Lithuania and Slovakia’s eventual victory over Russia, a mini-table of three teams will be created and the home team can pay for an unfavorable score after a high loss to Norway by ten goals in the first duel at the European Championships. If the Russians succumbed to the Norwegians on Saturday, any victory over Russia would be enough for the Slovaks to advance, but that did not happen.
After the match with Lithuania, the Slovaks were aware that they had to beat the Russians to advance, but they had no idea that they would probably need a more significant difference in the score. “We have a lot of matches played with the Russians. It’s a strong opponent, we lost to them several times. But they also changed the team, they no longer have more experienced players in the team. against Lithuania, ” said goalkeeper Teodor Paul.
The Russians are a relatively frequent rival of Slovaks on the international scene. So far, the last match between the teams played at the end of II. stages of the ME 2020 qualification. Several players from the current Slovak squad, who were still led by Peter Kukučka, completed the defeat in St. Petersburg at 8.30 pm. “The Russians have a very good middle link, which is their greatest strength. There are other strengths in their team that we will discuss.” said the helmsman of the home team.
Regardless of the result, the match with Russia will be the last for the Slovaks in the Steel Arena in Košice. Oliver Rábek, who is aware of the strength of the opponent, would also like to say goodbye to her victoriously. He was one of the Slovak heroes in the draw 31:31 at the beginning of the qualification 20101.
In November 2016, the Slovaks made a heroic conclusion in St. Petersburg, when they scored three goals in the last 60 minutes, while Rábek succeeded from seven to four seconds before the end. Since then, the Slovak team has lost to Russia in four consecutive matches.
An experienced clutch believes that the surprise from St. Petersburg could be repeated on Monday. “They play strong, aggressive and protracted handball. There are a lot of great players in their staff with a lot of experience, such as Dmitry Zhitnikov.” Oliver Rábek pointed out.