After 20 years Sweden is European Champion again by their victory over Spain in a tense EHF EURO 2022 final being watched by over 14,000 spectators in the arena. Bronze medal goes to Denmark following a fierce battle against France, the Olympic Champion.
EHF has revealed the All-Star Team based on the votes by fans to mark the events of the final day of EHF EURO 2022. Moreover, the MVP of EHF EURO 2022 has been named (we do as well below). Three out of the protagonists of the final match-day are in the All-Star Team; interestingly, the French have no players there.
There could have been four players instead of three, but Mikkel Hansen was not rostered by the Danes for the placement match (Place 3/4) against France. The absence of Hansen made the fans disappointed (over 10,000 spectators arrived at the arena). However, the derby started in high spirits. The Danes were willing to take revenge for being defeated in the main round of EHF EURO 2022 as well as the bronze medal match of EHF EURO 2018.
Noé, Zephyr and Merlin (from left to right in the photo) arrived in Budapest on Friday. Although they had been greatly disappointed following the semi-final, they expected a French victory. The trio that has never been to an EHF EURO before loves the modern arena and its atmosphere.
Rikke, Sabrina and Ida (from left to right in the photo) are handball fans, we talked to them right before the match. ‘We often go to the matches of our national team back home in Denmark, but this is the first time ever we are following them to another country. The atmosphere here is awesome, however, the cherry on the cake would be the bronze medal. Niklas will need his best in saves (i.e. Niklas Landin, the goalkeeper); we support him the greatest since he is one of our top-favourite players. We arrived in Budapest a day ago so we have had not enough time for sightseeing. Anyway, the city centre is amiable and the Parliament is imposing.’
It was 21:18 for Denmark when we first felt the Danes could take that revenge; until that point it was France mostly taking the lead (with one goal at half-time). There was no great gap between the teams, both scored alternately in the second half, too. Although Lasse Svan brought the advantage for Denmark in the last minute, Dika Mem, who has performed greatly in the tournament, scored the equalizer.
Extra-time came with the dominance by the Danes, with outstanding performance by Jacob Holm (ended with 10 goals tonight) and Niklas Landin in the goal. Denmark won the match and reached third place, making it to the podium again after their silver medal in 2014.
Team France players were also awarded medals; the first time ever team of place 4 to receive medals. Kentin Mahé was awarded MVP. All the medals were made in Kremnica Mint in Slovakia, which is the world’s oldest mint in operation dating back to the early 14th century.
Kentin Mahé, centre back of Team France and Telekom Veszprém (Hungary) summarized his thoughts and feelings after the match:
’Unfortunately, it was only my second match here in Budapest, but I feel good, I have felt so since the beginning of the infection. I wished that some guys who did not have a medal yet, could put one around their neck, and say, “we won a medal for France”. To be in Hungary was familiar to me, as I am a member of Telekom Veszprém, and I could continue to learn some new Hungarian words during the competition. I was talking a little bit with Yahia and (Lékai) Máté from Veszprém before the game, it was nice. Now the tournament is over, so tonight we are going to have a drink for sure.’
Lasse Svan Hansen, the right wing of the Danes was highly emotional during the flash interview:
‘It is hard to put down one key moment of the game, there were a plenty ups and downs in a close game like this, we had a chance to win at the end of regular time. After that in the first five minutes of extra time we played extraordinarily, almost perfect. France had a really bad start, so maybe this decided the match. It was my last tournament, this moment is extremely unique for me. I am happy to finish with a medal, tonight I hope we are going to celebrate a little. I have serious ambitions with my club and I would like to achieve them. I have been working for the last eight years as a mental coach, so after I will have finished my career, I am going to work with athletes, how to gain the performance, how they approach games and how to handle different circumstances. That area of psychology has its huge potential, I know that myself, so I am waiting for this new challenge.’
Final moment decides, Sweden win gold medal
One of the top players of the Danes referred to decisive situations and the high tension in them. The final match of an event like this is played among undoubtedly different conditions, which no one can be really prepared or trained for.
During the group stage in Bratislava of EHF EURO 2022, Spain played against Sweden and beat them; that fact however had nothing to count or take into consideration on Sunday.
It was considered though that two Swedes have been awarded; Jim Gottfridsson as MVP of the tournament by the decision of the EHF, while the title of Best defender has gone to Oscar Bergendahl.
Following the Closing Ceremony of EHF EURO 2022 it was time for the final match to begin. Sweden took the lead which Spain grabbed 12-11 in the very last minute of the first half, and kept it until half time.
Nothing changed after the break, a total of 14,200 spectators were enjoying an extremely exciting match till the very last moment.
In the 24th minute of the second half, Sweden took a two-goal lead, which was equalized by Spain two minutes before the final whistle. Both teams were attacking for victory in the last minute, while the coaches opted for their final time-out. Sweden took their last action till the end and conceded a penalty shot hammered by Niclas Eckberg into the goal. Sweden has regained the top place in EHF EURO. Goalkeeper Andreas Palicka from Sweden was awarded Player of the match.
Best Defender of EHF EURO 2022, Oscar Bergendahl from Sweden summarized the match, ‘It was a thriller again, just like against Norway or France. The key was the team itself. Several players had huge impacts in this game, and their energy won us the match. Our defense became strong enough in the second half, Spain had problems with scoring, which led us to the victory. In the end, we got a penalty, and Niclas (Ekberg) was just as confident as in the entire game from the line. The tournament is over now, we are going to celebrate with many beers I am sure.’
Valter Chrintz, right wing, Sweden:
‘I cannot describe how I feel now. It really does mean a lot for us and for the whole country as it was our first gold medal in the last 20 years and we lost three finals in the near past so we are absolutely buzzing now. It was hard to see the majority of the match from the bench but I was able to score a goal so I am over the moon now. We walked on the court with a fantastic mentality and I think that was the key to beat this very strong Spanish team today. The performance of our defence and goalkeeper were outstanding. I would like to say a huge thank you to our fans who were here in the arena and supported us. It was fantastic to see so many yellow and blue shirts on the stands. It seems so unrealistic yet but we did it; we are European Champions and we will celebrate this victory for a long time.’
Rodrigo Coralles, the goalkeeper of Team Spain also told us his thoughts following the final. ‘The game was decided in the last action, the last moment. There was so little difference between the two teams. It is hard to say anything; they got a penalty, we did not get anything in our last attack. It is a sad moment for us. It is hard to finish a tournament with a loss, but we fought until the end as we promised. In the future we will be proud of what we achieved here. We wanted to win the gold medal, the team was incredible today, the rivals had to respect us, because we always competed until the end. That mentality is what led to us being here in the final, it does not matter which player was on the field. It was an honour to play here in Budapest with the national team.’
Joan Canellas (line player, Spain) was understandably disappointed after the final.
‘We did not play well in the last part of the final. It is difficult to analyse right now because we did everything we could. We played well in attack, but our defence was not good enough today. At the last moment we did not have the attitude to come back and in the last 30 seconds I threw everything away. Now I cannot say that I am satisfied with the silver medal, but we did a really good tournament. I did not expect that we could reach the final. It is very tough to lose like this. We will have time to consider the whole thing and say that it was an amazing EHF EURO 2022; but right now it is hard to feel so.’
Placement Match 3/4
France – Denmark 32:35 (14:13, 29:29)
Sweden – Spain 27:26 (12:13)
Final result of EHF EURO 2022:
1. Sweden, 2. Spain, 3. Denmark, 4. France, 5. Norway, 6. Iceland, 7. Germany, 8. Croatia, 9., Russia, 10., Netherlands, 11. Montenegro, 12. Poland, 13. Czech Republic, 14. Serbia, 15. Hungary, 16. Slovenia, 17. Belarus, 18. Slovakia, 19. Portugal, 20. Austria, 21. Lithuania, 22. North-Macedonia, 23. Bosnia and Herzegovina, 24. Ukraine