Six countries are represented in the Men’s EHF EURO 2018 All-star team presented by Salming, which the European Handball Federation has announced a few hours before the final throw off.
The two finalists, Spain and Sweden, have taken three places in the most valuable side of the competition, with the Scandinavian side also snatching the Most Valuable Player award through playmaker Jim Gottfridsson.
In just 40 hours of voting no fewer than 10,000 fans cast their votes for their favourite players, counting for 40 per cent of the final vote, with an expert panel provided by the teams that played in the tournament making up 60 percent to provide the final result.
There were two players from the All-star team of the EHF EURO 2016 coming back two years later to earn their places for this tournament, but there were also surprising mentions, including a new and unexpected Most Valuable Player.
Goalkeeper: Vincent Gerard (FRA)
The 31-year old Montpellier goalkeeper has been the fan favourite, with the 19-save outing against Sweden becoming one of the talking points of the tournament. Taking the baton from Thierry Omeyer is a hard task, but Gerard managed to provide France with a safe option between the posts.
Left wing: Manuel Strlek (CRO)
The hosts have surely disappointed their loyal fans failing to proceed for the semi-finals phase, but Manuel Strlek has been a staple of consistency during this tournament. The 29-year old PGE Vive Kielce left wing scored 29 goals during the EHF EURO 2018, while missing only one shot during the main round.
Left back: Mikkel Hansen (DEN)
The Danish left back has been the most popular player between the fans, his 12-goal outing against Sweden powering him to his third All-star berth in the last four tournaments. Hansen has been battling a knee injury in the EHF EURO 2018, but still scored 41 times during his first seven matches
Centre back: Sander Sagosen (NOR)
While Norway failed to proceed to the semi-final phase, Sagosen is back in the All-star team, being an integrant part of his team’s success. The Norwegian playmaker scored 32 times in the EHF EURO and also assisted 38 goals, having a hand in 70 of Norway’s 191 goals in the tournament, meaning a 36,6 per cent of the Norwegian goals.
Line player: Jesper Nielsen (SWE)
Nielsen is not a natural born scorer, but has been the best dual-threat line player, impressing also in defence. The line player was instrumental in his team’s success, while playing 343 minutes for Swedish until the final, by far the most for the Scandinavian side.
Right back: Alex Dujshebaev (ESP)
Spain have not surprised on the attacking end, but Alex Dujshebaev has been slowly earning plaudits by scoring in decisive moments of the games. The 25-year old right back has scored 22 times for Spain in the first seven games.
Right wing: Ferran Sole (ESP)
There is nothing harder to make a successful debut in an EHF EURO, but the Toulouse right wing managed just that. There was discontent, as Victor Tomas was left out of the Spanish squad, but Sole became the top scorer of the Spanish squad on their way to the final, including several goals from the right back position
Defender: Jakov Gojun (Croatia)
The 31-year old Füchse Berlin left back has been used only in defence by the Croatian side and recorded eight blocks in his six games played for the hosts. The 204 cm tall player is the prototype of a defensive specialist.
MVP: Jim Gottfridsson (Sweden)
Gottfridsson is only 25, but he is truly a dual-threat player in attack. He already scored 27 times for Sweden, but he also assisted 23 goals, establishing himself as a very tough player to defend. The Swedish playmaker has been instrumental in his team’s success, providing his teammates with amazing assists, while keeping the defence guessing with a powerful shot.