Men’s EHF EURO 2022
HUNGARY & SLOVAKIA
Record champions Sweden reclaim EHF EURO trophy
After over two weeks of hotly contested handball, Sweden made history in January 2022 when they lifted the Men’s EHF EURO trophy for a record fifth time.
Sweden beat Spain 27:26 in the final, coming back in the second half from a one-goal half-time deficit to level the match before Niclas Ekberg netted a post-buzzer penalty shot to seal victory. It was the first time Sweden had beaten Spain since 2009, and their first EHF EURO title since 2002.
Spain’s participation in the final also made history. Their silver medal was their fifth in the competition, and they have nine EURO medals overall. The Hispanos have also now reached the semi-finals of the EHF EURO at every tournament since 2012, and made every final since 2016.
In the bronze medal match, Denmark beat France 35:32 after extra time. Denmark had never previously beaten France at the EHF EURO, and their medal marked a return to the podium for the first time since 2014.
The bronze medal win followed an earlier defeat by France in the main round.
Sweden, Spain and Denmark all featured in the tournament’s All-star Team, which was led by Swedish centre back Jim Gottfridsson who was critical to his side’s success during the tournament. Gottfridsson scored 36 goals and made 54 assists across the competition, and his teammates spoke warmly of his leadership qualities.
By winning the trophy, Gottfridsson broke the ‘MVP curse’ which had seen every MVP since Nikola Karabatic in 2014 lose the final. He also joined Karabatic and Croatia’s Ivano Balic in a select group of two-time EHF EURO MVPs.
Fellow Swede Oscar Bergendahl was named best defender of the competition. Spain’s Aleix Gómez picked up the All-star right wing award, and Mikkel Hansen and Matthias Gidsel of Denmark were named All-star left and right back, respectively – although both missed the bronze medal match, with Hansen sidelined beforehand and Gidsel leaving the court after a minute of play.
The tournament was hosted by Hungary and Slovakia, with group matches, the main round and the final weekend played in the brand-new Budapest Arena.
The earlier stages also saw some superb handball and stand-out performances by some young up-and-coming players. Iceland in particular stood out; despite a competition disrupted by positive Covid-19 tests for some of their most experienced players, including goalkeeper Björgvin Pall Gustavsson and back Aron Palmarsson, they were a big threat.
Only France’s victory over Denmark in the last main round game prevented Iceland from reaching the semi-finals. In the placement match, which would also determine automatic qualification for the 2023 IHF Men’s World Championship, Iceland forced an extra-time period against Norway only for Norway’s Harald Reinkind to net in the last second of extra time.
Nevertheless, Icelandic second-choice goalkeeper Viktor Hallgrímsson stepped up and was named All-star goalkeeper for a string of pivotal saves throughout the tournament.
The Netherlands also had a history-making tournament, with stand-in goalkeeper Thijs Van Leeuwen making 14 saves on his EHF EURO debut to ensure the Dutch won their first-ever main round match, against Montenegro.
The Men’s EHF EURO 2022 was the second tournament to feature 24 teams.
Women’s EHF EURO 2022
SLOVENIA, NORTH MACEDONIA & MONTENEGRO
Norway make EHF EURO history once again
Norway defended their 2020 title and won their ninth Women’s EHF EURO trophy as they beat Denmark 27:25 in the final of the 2022 competition, the culmination of three weeks of exciting handball.
It was a close game with Denmark in front most of the way but a level last 10 minutes before two straight goals from EHF EURO 2022 MVP Henny Reistad secured the win for Norway in the final minutes.
Goalkeeper Katrine Lunde was a key factor for Norway, as she entered for the last 20 minutes and saved at 40 per cent, opening the door for her team’s comeback.
With the victory, Norway added to the EHF EURO trophies they won in 2020, 2016, 2014, 2010, 2008, 2006, 2004 and 1998.
It was Denmark’s first appearance in a major final for 18 years. They last reached the final stage of a top tournament in 2004, when they lost the EHF EURO final to Norway by the same score as this year – 25:27. However, Denmark came away from Slovenia knowing they have the capacity to beat their Nordic neighbours, after winning their last main round match.
Montenegro took bronze, beating France a decade after winning the London 2012 Olympic Games semi-final against the same opponents. Their 27:25 extra-time victory was their first win against France in three EHF EURO encounters.
Defeat in the bronze-medal match meant the EHF EURO 2022 was the first time since 2014 that France leave the EHF EURO without a medal and the first major international championship since 2019 where they did not take a piece of silverware.
It was the last international match for Montenegrin star Jovanka Radicevic, who clinched the Player of the Match award and leaves this level of handball as the third-highest scorer in the tournament’s history, with 214 goals.
Radicevic also featured for a third time in the EHF EURO All-star Team. She was named alongside bronze-medal match opponents Pauletta Foppa (line player) and Cléopatre Darleux (goalkeeper).
MVP Reistad was joined in the team by her captain Stine Oftedal, who was the best centre back for the third tournament in a row.
Romanian left back Cristina Neagu was named in the All-star Team for the fourth time, after 2010, 2014 and 2016. Neagu is now the all-time top scorer for both the men’s and women’s EHF EUROs, with 296 goals – eight more than the best men’s scorer, Iceland’s Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson, and 82 more than Radicevic.
Denmark’s Emma Friis and Kathrine Heindahl were named All-star left wing and best defender respectively, and Hungarian right back Katrin Klujber completed the All-star Team.
Norway’s Nora Mørk clinched her third EHF EURO top scorer crown with eight goals in the final, bringing her tally in the tournament to 50 and in her career to 219 – putting her second behind Neagu and ahead of Radicevic in the all-time standings.
The majority – 28 – of Mørk’s goals at the EHF EURO 2022 came from penalties, and she missed only one from the seven-metre line.
After previously taking the top scorer award at the EHF EURO 2016 and 2020, Mørk is the first player across both men’s or women’s tournaments to take this award twice in a row and the first to earn it three times.
Berlin qualifiers draw sets the path for the EHF EURO 2024
The road to the Men’s EHF EURO 2024 started at the Men’s EHF EURO 2022. Medallists Sweden, Spain and Denmark, plus hosts Germany received automatic qualification for the 2024 championship.
A further 20 teams from the Men’s EHF EURO 2022 entered the qualification race, joined by Estonia, the Faroe Islands, Greece, Israel, Italy, Kosovo, Romania and Switzerland, who were all eliminated in the final qualification stage on the path to the EHF EURO 2022.
Belgium, Finland, Latvia and Turkey progressed from the EHF EURO 2024 qualifiers relegation round to the qualification phase, joined by Georgia and Luxembourg who took the places of Russia and Belarus, which are currently banned from competition by the EHF.
At a draw in March 2022, the 32 teams in qualification phase 2 were divided into eight groups of four teams. Matches will be played between October 2022 and April 2023, with the top two sides in each group plus the four best third-ranked teams progressing to the final tournament.
A maximum of four of the lowest-ranked teams at the end of this final qualification stage will join the relegation round in the EHF EURO 2026 qualifiers.