IBSA Goalball Europeans – Only finals left
Date: November 9, 2013
On day 5 all ranking positions were decided along with the semi-finals. Only the finals now need to be played.
Friday’s play saw the host nations hopes of a Turkish double dashed after the Turkish men lost in the first semi-final. The Spanish team is a team who are accustomed to being amongst the elite of goalball. However, it was a shock when they didn’t qualify for London. They showed that they are now back with a comfortable win over Turkey 5-2.
Defeating Lithuania was always going to be a tough ask for the Germans. When the Lithuanians are on, they are on and are close to undefeatable. On day five they were on and left the Germans in their wake with a very comprehensive 13-3 pounding.
Lithuania and Spain are now guaranteed qualification for the 2014 IBSA Goalball World Championships with their top two finishes.
In contrast to the mens side, the women’s final will be filled with growing goalball nations instead of traditional goalball nations.
Excellent defense resulted in the Russians moving past Israel 3-0.
The other semi-final was a bit closer. However, home nation Turkey was able to stay strong and get past the ever dangerous Finnish team 5-4.
In other results, the matches were played to decide the 5-8 ranking spots. Two teams that many thought would had been playing the final, Czech Republic and Finland, ended up playing for 5th and6th spot. The Czechs seem to have worked out how to play against the Finns because they once again won comfortably 12-4. Seventh position went to Belgium who despite the score line had a routine win over the Ukrainians 5-3. This means that Ukraine will also go back to the IBSA Goalball European B division.
Germany peaked at the right time of the tournament. Despite losing their quarter final narrowly they took 5th position in the women’s tournament with two strong wins in their ranking matches. In their final match they defeated Ukraine 9-3. This leaves Ukraine ranked 6th in Europe. Seventh place went to Spain after Great Britain had a devastating day. They lost their last two matches with the identical score line of 2-1. This means that the Paralympic quarter finalists will once again compete in the B division for the second time in a row. This is evidence of how tough the competition is with European Goalball.
Now only the medal matches need to be played.
Turkey will face Germany for the mens bronze position. Turkey is a relatively new goalball nation but their quick ascent means that they already have plenty of experience at this level. They won the bronze at the 2011 IBSA Goalball European Championships Men & Women A and most notably the bronze at the 2012 Paralympic Games. Even though Germany is a traditional goalball nation, they have been going through a period of redevelopment over the past five years or so. All their hard work however has paid off as they are now reaching the top of European goalball. This means though that they do not have the experience of finals day like the Turks have. The Turks will also have the crowd on their side. Saying all this, the Germans have nothing to lose once again. They can enjoy the experience but will this be enough?
The gold medal match up has two nations coming together who know each other’s game very well. Lithuania has been to countless finals and has held every major title multiple times except for that elusive Paralympic gold. They know what to do to win and how to do it. The Spanish however are led by their mastermind coach, Paco Monreal. A man who has been in the sport longer than most can remember and who knows the sport better than nearly anyone. He showed us this week that he could bring Spain back to the top of European Goalball and be sure that he has a tactic in mind to get past the mighty Lithuanians. Whether this will be enough, only time will tell.
Finland and Israel will play off for the bronze medal in the women’s competition. Similar to the men’s competition, it is experience versus up and coming. Finland are no stranger to the finals and like the Turkish men’s team, they also played for the bronze medal. A match they ended up losing but they know what finals day is about. Israel have been climbing up the European ladder over the past four years and playing on finals day is the next rung on that ladder. So like the Germans on the men’s side, they have nothing to lose. This is an experience that we know they will grab with both hands and they will give it their all against the Finns.
Finally there is the women’s gold medal match. This will be the one that the audience will be shouting for. A chance for Turkey to have their first ever European champion. They are known for their fire power with one particular player, Altunoluk, developing the habit of highest goal scorer at every tournament that she competes in. the Russians in contrast are known for their defence. When it is working their way, nearly no one can get a goal past them. The Russians have also been here before; they played for gold in 2011. A final that they lost by one goal. The Turkish however will have the home crowd advantage and we know that that can make all the difference sometimes. That difference can be both positive and negative. Soon we shall know what the result will be.
5/8 – Czech Republic 12 Belgium 5
5/8 – Finland 7 Ukraine 3
SF – Spain 5 Turkey 2
SF – Lithuania 13 Germany 3
5/6 – Czech Republic 12 Finland 4
7/8 – Belgium 5 Ukraine 3
5/8 – Great Britain 1 Spain 2
5/8 – Spain 5 Germany 12
SF Finland 4 Turkey 5
SF – Russia 3 Israel 0
5/6 – Ukraine 3 Germany 9
7/8 – Spain 2 Great Britain 1