Handball

Women's EHF Euro 2020: Everything you need to know

The top 16 European teams, including Olympic champions Russia and world champions Netherlands, will go head-to-head in Denmark from 3-20 December.

By Ken Browne ·

EHF Euro 2020 will take place from 3-20 December in Denmark, and it's time to get excited.

The top 16 teams on the continent, including Olympic champions Russia and world champions Netherlands, will go head-to-head for one of the most coveted trophies in the game.

With Tokyo 2020 less than seven months away, Denmark will give us a real insight into Europe's top challengers for Olympic gold.

Scroll down for everything you need to know including: Who's qualified, which group your team is in, players to watch, favourite teams, and the official song called 'We're in this together - Handball is Passion'!

Where will Women's Euro 2020 happen?

Kolding and Herning in Denmark will host the entire tournament after original co-hosts Norway decided not to go ahead with games due to the health situation during the coronavirus pandemic.

Venues

Games in Herning will be hosted in the Jyske Bank Boxen and in the Sydbank Arena in Kolding, with the final weekend happening in Herning.

Luckily, Herning has plenty of experience and will become the first city and arena to host four major handball championships including European and World championships.

Which teams qualified for Women's Euro 2020?

The 16 teams qualified are:

France, Russia, Netherlands, Romania, Denmark, Sweden, Hungary, Norway, Montenegro, Spain, Serbia, Germany, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Croatia, Poland.

EHF Euro 2020 Groups

The 16 qualified teams were drawn into the following groups of four:

Group A France, Denmark, Montenegro, Slovenia

Group B Russia, Sweden, Spain, Czech Republic

Group C Netherlands, Serbia, Hungary, Croatia

Group D Romania, Norway, Germany, Poland

Who are the favourites?

If a tournament that features many of the best teams in the world was difficult to call before the disruption caused by Covid-19, imagine how hard it is to predict now.

Let´s begin with the reigning Olympic champions Russia who have been hit hard by injuries, the Rio 2016 gold medallists lost gold medallists Anna Sen and Anna Vyakhireva and 19-year-old rising star Elena Mikhaylichencko tore her cruciate ligament.

That puts a lot of pressure on Daria Dmitrieva to lead the team, but this gives others a chance to step up, lots of young stars who can make a name for themselves.

Anna Vyakhireva out of Euro 2020

Unfortunately, star right back Anna Vyakhireva picked up a back injury just before the tournament, a massive loss for the Russian side.

"Just want to thank everyone for kind words," Vyakhireva wrote on Instagram after well-wishers flooded her inbox with kind messages.

"Sometimes nothing depends on you. This is sport and things happen. I wish good luck for our team on the Euro. Even in front of the TV, I am with you!"

World champions Netherlands eye first Euro title

But you just have to look back to the most recent World Championships in Japan 2019 to see how quickly things can change in women's handball:

2016 Olympic champs Russia didn't even make the final.

Eliminated by the eventual champions Netherlands in the semi finals, the Oranje went on to edge Spain 20-29 in the final: a last minute penalty unleashed wild celebrations of their first ever World title.

The dramatic final victory also gave the Netherlands team a place at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

We can expect the Dutch to do all they can to live up to that tag as world champs at Euro 2020, but also a Russia team keen to reassert themselves ahead of Tokyo 2020, and a Spanish team motivated by coming so close to their first ever world title in 2019.

Then there's defending champion from 2018 France who always present a strong challenge, and the most successful team in the history of the tournament Norway.

Double Olympic champions Norway will be led by Stine Oftedal, IHF Player of the Year 2019 who was instrumental in Norway's bronze medal win at the Rio 2016 Olympics.

Who to watch at EHF Euro 2020

Adding to the sparkle of stars mentioned above, look our for these ringers in Denmark:

Netherlands free-scoring Bo Van de Wetering and Tess 'The Wall' Wester in goal will be key to the Netherlands' challenge, Jessy Kramer has been in fine form pre-tournament too and they still have many world champs in the fold like Estavana Polman and Lois Abbingh.

Austria's centre-back Sonja Frey has won the Bundesliga three times and lynchpins her team.

Romania's Cristina Neagu needs no introduction, many consider her the greatest of all time, she's the only female handball player in history to win four IHF World Player of the Year awards.

The big question is if she can stay fit after two years of serious injury woes, but she sounds determined to bring her best.

“The injuries and those periods that I was away from the court made me the player that I am today,” Neagu told the (Un)Informed podcast for EHF. “They helped me so much, I feel so strong mentally because of that.”

Serbia also have a world-class veteran in Andrea Lekic (33), the 2013 IHF World Player of the Year still has a trick or two up her sleeve.

Hosts Denmark have a new coach in Jesper Jensen, and the Danish goalkeeper Althea Reinhardt is definitely one to watch.

Speaking of goalkeepers, Sweden's Jessica Ryde is often the difference for her team.

History in the making: All women Referees

Euro 2020 will make history by becoming first European Championships in handball history to be whistled entirely by female referees.

On the list are France's Bonaventura twins, and nine other pairs:

Ana Vranes / Marlis Wenninger - Austria

Vesna Balvan / Tatjana Prastalo - Bosnia & Herzegovina

Karina Christiansen / Line Hesseldal Hansen - Denmark

Charlotte Bonaventura / Julie Bonaventura - France

Ioanna Christidi / Ioanna Papamattheou - Greece

Jelena Mitrovic / Andjelina Kazanegra - Montenegro

Vania Sa / Marta Sa - Portugal

Cristina Nastase / Simona-Raluca Stancu - Romania

Viktoriia Alpaidze / Tatyana Berezkina - Russia

Vanja Antic / Jelena Jakovljevic - Serbia

Women's Handball Euro 2020 Schedule

Here is a basic schedule:

Group I Games: 3-8 Dec

Group II Games: 10-15 Dec

Semi-finals: 18 Dec

Third-place: 20 Dec

Final: 20 Dec

You can find a full schedule on the official website.

Women's Handball Euro 2020 Tickets

Due to the coronavirus pandemic and the risks involved the situation with fans in the stadium is under constant review.

Take a look for tickets on the official site here: EHF Euro 2020 Tickets

Euro 2020 Official Song

The official tournament song 'We're in this Together' is a Euro-banger sung by Norway's Alexandra Rotan.

Rotan represented Norway in the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 as part of the group KEiiNO with the song 'Spirit in the Sky'.

Rotan went back to her roots for this song, she was a keen handball player when she was younger.

"This is huge for me!" The singer said when she recorded the song earlier this year.

"I have played handball myself until I was 18, so this means a lot to me... Now it’s going to be fun to play for the amazing handball crowd."

Alexandra teamed up with producer Christian Sol and Stian Larsen on guitar, Sarah-Erin Hurtado Bye on violin, Blåsemafian on drop and Simen Sandnes on drums all feature.

The song was produced through the Handball is Passion project.