24 matches have been played in the four preliminary round groups at the EHF EURO 2018 in Croatia. With the main round starting on Thursday in Zagreb, here are the most important facts and figures of the first stage of the competition.
1 team only – three-time EHF EURO champions France – have won all three preliminary round matches.
1 team will qualify directly from the EHF EURO 2018 for the World Championship 2019 in Denmark and Germany. For this event, both host nations and defending world champions France are already qualified.
2 other teams – FYR Macedonia (two victories, one draw) and Germany (one win, two draws) remain unbeaten.
2 points, from one win each, were enough for Belarus and Serbia to qualify for the main round.
2 matches from the preliminary round ended in a draw. In both, Germany were on court and both final results were 25:25 – Germany versus Slovenia and Germany versus FYR Macedonia.
4 teams have been eliminated after the preliminary round: Iceland, Austria, Montenegro and Hungary. After 15 matches at EHF EURO final tournaments, Montenegro still wait for their first win, with their current record at one draw, 14 defeats. Like Montenegro, Austria and Hungary did not take any points in Croatia.
4 matches ended with a margin of 10 and more goals.
4 former Men’s EHF EURO champions (all since 1998), representing 11 trophies, are among the main round participants: Sweden (four titles), France (three), Germany and Denmark (each two). The only former EURO champions missing are Russia (1996).
4 – which means all – EHF EURO 2016 semi-finalists have made it to the main round.
7 seconds were between the two red cards against Austrians Janko Bozovic and Vytautas Ziura in the match against Norway.
8 goals, scored by Sweden in the first half against Iceland (8:15), was the lowest score in the first 30 minutes. In total, there were four times a team did not score 10 goals in the first 30 minutes.
9 of the 12 teams that were part of the EHF EURO 2016 Main Round, have reached the same stage again: Germany, Spain, Croatia, Norway, France, Denmark, Sweden, Belarus and FYR Macedonia. In addition, Serbia, Czech Republic and Slovenia proceeded. Poland, Russia (both not qualified for Croatia in 2018) and Hungary contested the main round in 2016.
11 red cards were shown by the referees in the preliminary round, including one blue card against Austrian Ziura in the match against Norway.
14 goals were scored by Czech Ondrej Zdrahala in the crucial 33:27 win against Hungary, to be the highest tally for a single player in the preliminary round. Nine goals were scored by Mate Lekai (HUN) in that same match, as well as by Kristian Bjornsen and Nikola Bilyk in the duel Austria versus Norway, Dika Mem (France) against Belarus, and Uwe Gensheimer (GER) against Montenegro. Alongside Zdrahala, only four players have netted 14 times in any EHF EURO match since 1994. The record holder is Norwegian Kjetil Strand, who scored 19 goals against Iceland in 2006.
+16 is the best goal difference of all teams after the preliminary round – and the winner is Spain, ahead of Norway and France, both with +15, and Germany and Croatia, both with +13.
17 goals was the most decisive score line in a preliminary round match, when Spain beat Czech Republic 32:15. This was the second biggest win ever in EURO history, after the 38:18 result for the Czech Republic against the Macedonians in 1998. Other clear wins included Germany’s 13-goal victory over Montenegro (32:19), Norway beating Austria by 11 (39:28) and Croatia winning against Serbia by 10 (32:22).
25 goals were scored by Czech Ondrej Zdrahala in three games, making him the top scorer of the preliminary round. He is ahead of Norwegian Kristian Bjornsen and German Uwe Gensheimer, with 21 each, then Nikola Bilyk (Austria) and Mikkel Hansen (Denmark) with 19 apiece.
35 shots were saved by Iceland goalkeeper Bjorgvin Pall Gustavsson. Below him on the goalkeeper ranking are Viachaslau Saldatsenka (BLR/34), Martin Galia (CZE/33), Vincent Gerard (FRA/32) and Torbjorn Bergerud (NOR/31).
47 goals in the match Denmark versus Spain (25:22) made it the lowest-scoring match of the preliminary round. All other 23 matches saw at least 50 goals.
55 matches at EHF EURO final tournaments – this is the record of Nikola Karabatic after the completion of the preliminary round. Thus, the three-time EHF EURO champion needs only three more matches to become the all-time record holder – a title currently held by his coach Didier Dinart (57).
65 goals were conceded by Spain, making theirs the most stable defence. Germany and Slovenia follow in this ranking, with 69 goals allowed. They are ahead of Denmark (75) and Croatia (79).
67 goals in the match Norway versus Austria (39:28) made it the highest-scoring game of the preliminary round, ahead of 66 goals between Croatia and Sweden (31:35).
103 goals were scored by Norway, making theirs the most effective attack of all 16 teams. France netted 97 times to be ahead of Croatia (92), Sweden (89) and Denmark (84).
198 two-minutes suspensions were received in the preliminary round – 70 of them in Group C, followed by Group B (49), A (41) and D (38). 15 suspensions in the match Montenegro vs FYR Macedonia was the record, followed by 11 against Slovenia in the game against Macedonia.
270 goals at EHF EURO final tournaments – this is the new record for Iceland left wing Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson, who is number one on the All-Time Men’s EHF EURO top scorer list. He netted 14 times in Croatia, but even his goals were not enough to avoid the Vikings’ early departure.
360 goals were scored in the six Group B matches (an average of 60 goals per match). The remaining three groups were clearly lower: 318 in Group D, 304 in Group C and 296 in Group A.
1,278 goals were scored in the 24 preliminary round matches in Croatia, which means an average of 53.25 per game. In 2016 in Poland, the preliminary round statistic was 1,316 at an average of 54.83.