IBSA Goalball Europeans – Changing of the guard
Date: November 7, 2013
The final day of the round robin stage at the 2013 IBSA Goalball European Championships Men & Women A signified the changing of the guard. Traditional goalball powerhouses have been relegated while new nations move on.
Day three was the final day of the round robin stage. Each pool still had two matches remaining and this was to finalise the placing’s for the quarter finals.
Pool A started off with a fired up Belgium team ready to play. Despite making a number of penalties, the Turkish team was not able to capitalize on them due to great saves. In the end both teams walked away sharing the points after a 6 all draw.
Unfortunately the final Pool A match between Czech Republic and Slovenia was not as exciting. The Czech team continued on their merry way and rolled on past Slovenia winning 6-0.
This means that the Czechs top this pool followed by Finland, Turkey, Belgium and finally Slovenia. The top four teams in each pool move on to the quarter finals.
Sweden had a lot of pride on the line when they took on Ukraine in their final Pool B round robin match. They fought hard and were able to finish the round robin stage on a win. The final score was 12-9.
Spain managed to give up a very handy lead to lose their final round robin match to the Germans 7-8.
Despite this loss; Spain still are sitting at the top of Pool B with the remaining quarter final spots being filled by Ukraine, Lithuania and Germany.
The Pool X match between Spain and Germany was a really tight one. Most of the goals were scored at the start of this match and then the teams dug in. Despite an interesting decision by coach Paco Monreal to decline a penalty, the Spanish still made the final goal that gave them the win.
Many would have thought that the Turks went into their Pool X match as favourites but no one told the Israelis this. The Israeli’s ended up winning this game quite comfortably 7-4.
This loss however didn’t change much for the Turks because they still ended up as the winner of their pool with Israel, Spain, Germany and Denmark behind them.
Pool Y was the pool where a must win match still had to be played. The winner of the match between Sweden and Great Britain would move on to the quarter finals while the loser was guaranteed relegation back to IBSA Goalball European B division. Great Britain finally showed the strength that took them to the London 2012 quarter finals by defeating Sweden 9-4.
Even though Finland had a 5-0 win over Ukraine today, it wasn’t enough to put them in top position. Russia was the top team in this pool ahead of Finland, Ukraine, Great Britain and Sweden.
Day four will be quarter finals day. The placing matches for 9/10 will also be played. For the full schedule please click on the link above.
One notable match amongst the men is the replay of the 2011 IBSA Goalball European Championships final between Lithuania and Finland. Finland humiliated Lithuania in this match. The question is will Lithuania get revenge on day four by ending Finland’s hopes of defending their title.
Amongst the women matches, all four of these matches have the potential to throw up an upset or a close match. One fine example of this is the match between Spain and Finland. They are two very tactical and smart teams. It is very difficult to predict what will happen here.
The 9th and 10th play offs feature teams that many would have never expected to see in this position. Slovenia and Sweden have been very consistent teams in European Goalball and it is a shock that they will both be going to IBSA Goalball European B division.
To the outside world, it is even a larger shock that the current Paralympic bronze medalists and current defending champions, Sweden and Denmark, will be playing each other for 9th place. However, both of these teams are now in a stage of redevelopment after many retirements following the London Paralympic Games.
As we get closer to qualification spots to the 2014 IBSA Goalball World Championships being designated, the tension will pick up. We will find out on day four how the teams handle this.
Turkey 6 Belgium 6
Slovenia 0 Czech Republic 6
Sweden 12 Ukraine 9
Spain 7 Germany 8
Spain 3 Germany 2
Israel 7 Turkey 4
Sweden 4 Great Britain 9
Finland 5 Ukraine 0