Russia vs Croatia (Women Handball) by 20Legend
Russia qualified for the tournament by winning their qualification group. The Russian team impressed a lot under the Olympic tournament earlier this summer by winning the gold medal. They have a strong team as the Olympic gold medal shows, but it is a blow for them that their best goalkeeper Anna Sedoykina misses this tournament because of an injury. Still, Russia should have the team to cover up and be fighting for a medal here, but it will not be an easy task when looking at their difficult group. Norway, Romania and Croatia can be a challenge for several teams.
Croatia qualified from 2nd place in their group behind Montenegro during the qualification. The Croatian team was one of the biggest disappointments by far during the Euros in 2014. Croatia was one of the hosting nations, but it did not help when they lost all three games in the group stage. As a direct result of the failure, several players and the coach Vladimir Canjuga stepped down as he took full responsibility for the humiliating performance.
Croatia is known for defensive dedication with strong team morale. However, their most important player Andrea Penezic is the one who often carries the team on her shoulders during their games. She is one of the best shooters in the world and will obviously be vital in this tournament as well. The team is quite young and inexperienced with neither of the goalkeepers Marta Zderic or Jelena Grubisic are available. The rumors are suggesting that 1st keeper Zderic has declined to play for Croatia on several occasions, in order to play for Montenegro.
If that is going to happen, Zderic has to take a national break for two years in order to be able to play for a different nation. Jelena Grubicic has stated that the coach, Goran Medjen, has left her out for several training camps as he does not want her to be in the squad. That is very strange if it is true because Grubicic plays for the top club Bucuresti and has a lot to offer.
It is no doubt that this is the toughest group in the tournament on paper and Russia’s wide selection stands out compared to Croatia who has to rely on Penezic. I think it will be too tough for Croatia to take any points from the group here, but the situation is not ideal for Russia either.
They are reduced heavily regarding the goalkeeper position which is also the case for Croatia. As we saw during the Olympic tournament, the Russian team is often involved in high-scoring games due to high tempo. Despite having a young team, Croatia has nothing to lose here and they showed spirit during the qualification as well. I therefore reckon the line of over 53.5 goals to be broken tonight.