Examining Group B: Four different styles ensure tough competition in Egypt 2021
Three continents are represented in Group B at the 27th IHF Men’s World Championship, in what is sure to be a very competitive group with closely contested matches. European champions Spain will face Poland, Tunisia and Brazil, as the Spanish side look to secure their first medal since winning the trophy in 2013.
Yet there is no straightforward conclusion, as each team brings something unique to the table. While Spain rely on their experience, their strength and team chemistry, Poland were noted by their opponents for their physicality. Tunisia boast great speed and technicality, while Brazil can always spring a surprise or two with their exciting mix of youth and experience.
With three teams proceeding to the main round and taking points with them into the next phase, there will be no time lost and every match will be important.
However, there is one clear favourite in the group. Spain, with their experience, tactical knowledge and versatility, are a contender for the title once again and will look to secure a medal at the IHF Men’s World Championship for the first time since 2013. Jordi Ribera’s side are the reigning European champions, after going through the Men’s EHF EURO 2020 undefeated.
Their core has remained intact, with a superb pair of goalkeepers in Gonzalo Perez de Vargas and Rodrigo Coralles, an experienced captain in Raul Entrerrios and an efficient pair of brothers – backs Daniel and Alex Dujshebaev.
Spain hold the advantage in head-to-head games against each of their Group B opponents, including a perfect record against Brazil and Tunisia in competitive matches. In fact, Spain have dominated their South American counterparts, winning all seven match-ups including at the IHF Men’s World Championships and at the Olympic Games. However, the gap has been narrowing over the past years, with Spain eking out a win, 28:27, in the Round of 16 at France 2017, after Brazil led the game for 40 minutes.
The Spanish side has also won seven games against Tunisia in the previous editions of the IHF Men’s World Championship, winning games by an average margin of 6.8 goals.
While Brazil and Tunisia are still eyeing their first win against ‘Los Hispanos’, Poland have defeated Spain at a World Championship before.
Although the last seven meetings between the two sides have been won by Spain, the last time Poland beat them, they went on to win bronze at Qatar 2015 after a thrilling match for third place, which went into extra-time and ended 29:28.
It was the swan song for one of the most successful generations in Polish handball, as Poland embarked on a tough change of generations, failing to qualify for Germany/Denmark 2019. However, after being awarded a Wild Card for Egypt 2021, a hungry and eager Poland side are back with eyes firmly set on a main round berth after failing to progress from the group phase at the Men’s EHF EURO 2020 in January.
While Spain and Poland’s players might boast the experience of playing in strong European leagues, Tunisia and Brazil have also made strides in the past years, with their players making their mark in the best European leagues as well.
Tunisia face Brazil on 17 January, in a match that could go either way. The African side, who finished second at the 2020 CAHB Men’s African Championship, losing the final against Egypt, have two World Championship wins against Brazil in three games, but the South American side return after their best World Championship result ever when they finished ninth at Germany/Denmark 2019.
All Group B matches will be played in New Capital Sports Hall on 15, 17 and 19 January.