For the first time in the EHF EURO history, 24 teams started their adventure for winning the European champions title. Among them, 7 SEHA countries found their place. Croatia, Serbia and Belarus started their journey in Group A, North Macedonia and Ukraine were placed in Group B while Hungary and Russia started off in Group E.
Great play and 100% efficiency lead Croatia to first place in Group A. Alongside them, brilliant Belarus also booked their tickets for the Main round. Unfortunately, Serbia did not manage to deliver single victory so they had to say goodbye to the competition early. Stevan Sretenovic with 8 goals, Milan Djukic with three goals, Zivan Pesic with one goal and Vladimir Cupara with 10 saves were SEHA stars that wore Serbian national team jersey at the EHF EURO 2020.
In Group B, North Macedonia and Ukraine ended their EHF EURO 2020 adventure without reaching the Main round. But, both of these teams showed great skills on the court and motive to play the best they can. Dejan Manaskov with 11 goals and Stojanche Stoilov with 10 goals were some of the best Macedonian scorers. Nikolce Mitrevski also had an important role as he had 18 saves for Macedonia.
Pride of Ukrainian team were Artem Kozakevych with 13 goals scored, Stanislav Zhukov and Vladyslav Ostroushko with 12 goals each. Dmytro Doroshchuk gave his contribution with 5 goals, Zakhar Denysov netted 4 times while Olexandr Shevelev scored one.
EHF EURO 2020 story ended in Group E for Russia as they faced defeats against Iceland, Denmark and Hungary. But, they had some incredible stars who gave their contribution. Gleb Kalarash netted 11 times for Russians as well as Daniil Shishkarev. Igor Soroka was right behind them with 10 goals while Alexander Shkurinskiy netted 8 times. Flying wing Timur Dibirov scored 4 goals and Pavel Atman added 2 more.
Hungary, on the other hand, played great in the Preliminary round hence why they reached top spot in Group E with 2 victories and one draw.
Things got serious in the Main round as 12 teams divided into 2 groups were trying to reach the semi-finals. In the end, unbeaten Croatia alongside Spain went through from Group I, while Norway and Slovenia booked their tickets from Group II. After tough action in the Main round, Hungary said their goodbye to the competition. Marton Szekely was SEHA star who collected 10 saves for Hungarian team.
In the Final weekend we witnessed incredible handball action, tough matches and thriller endings. First semi-final match between Croatia and Norway left everybody speechless. As 60 minutes went by and the teams were tied, the extra time action was necessary. After a huge thriller in the end, Croatia came out victorious and reached their first finals after 10 year pause. The second finalst was decided in the semi-final match were Spain and Slovenia clashed. Despite great effort from Ljubomir Vranjes' team, Spain reached the finals in the end and got a chance to defend their European champions title. Slovenia finished the competition on the 4th place. SEHA League gems, Borut Mackovsek with 30 goals and Blaz Blagotinsek with 27 goals shined bright in the Slovenian national team.
Final match was trully a treat for all handball lovers as Croatia and Spain showed brilliant play and some tough action. Both teams were motivated to reach the top, but there was only place for one of them. Last minutes of the match decided the final winner. In the end, Spain climbed the European throne once again, while Croatia won silver.
The amazing collective who showed unbelievable team spirit, who fought until the last minute and did not give up even when everything looked grey, made us all proud. With Zlatko Horvat who netted 24 times, David Mandic who scored 21 goal, Marin Sipic who scored 9, Valentino Ravnic and Matej Hrstic who both added 2 goals, Croatia made a huge achievement that will stay in our memories forever.
We are incredibly proud of all SEHA countries that participated at the EHF EURO 2020 and showed motivation, togetherness and amazing skills!
Photo credit: Kolektiff Images