Steel Arena (Kosice)
The Russian national team has all the chances to take 1st place in their group in the preliminary round of the European Handball Championship. In the final round, the Russians will meet the outsiders of the quartet, the Slovaks. Should Velimir Petkovic's side expect an easy walk?Get Your Welcome Bonus!
The Slovaks qualified for the European Championships for the first time in a long time only thanks to their status as hosts, and their level of play is probably the weakest of all 24 national teams. The change of generations in the team was rather painful. They failed to replace Richard Štochl and Radoslav Antl fully. The coronavirus did interfere with Slovakia's preparation for the domestic, continental competition, and three players were isolated for some time. Lukas Urban did not train before the start of UEFA EURO 2022, and there is no guarantee that he will appear in the squad.
But the Slovaks were helped by the home side, and in their last game, they beat Lithuania 31-26 to halt their unbeaten streak of 10 straight defeats. The Slovaks can even hope to advance from the group, but they need to beat the Russians by a wide margin. Peter Kukučka's men shot well from 9 meters in the game with the Lithuanians, making 11 of 21 shots. Slovakia's wingers didn't play their best, but their goalkeepers did well. Marian Zernovic and Teodor Paul saved two shots apiece and made 40% of the shots saved. Patrik Hruščák had six goals from the game, including four from 9 meters. Tomas Urban was the most productive player in the team with seven goals, realizing 3 out of 4 penalties.
The Russians are already in their 2nd top-flight tournament in a row and are well on their way to the play-offs. In the two games of the preliminary round of the European Championship, Velimir Petkovic's charges have gained two victories, thanks to which they topped their group. Before the start of UEFA EURO 2022, the team had problems with their midfielders: Alexander Shkurinskiy, Sergei Ivanov and Dmitry Kiselev are out injured. The coach hopes that Kiselev will be fit in time for the main round, but that's not so high. Also, Sergey Kudinov and Viacheslav Kasatkin are on the injured list, so the Russian national team has a lot of losses. The best scorers of the national team at the tournament are Sergei Mark Kosorotov and Dmitry Zhitnikov, who scored 10 and 11 goals respectively.
One of the biggest sensations of the current tournament was the victory over Norway 23-22. Velimir Petkovic's charges defended well and tackled Sander Sagosen, who was ineffective in the end. The long-distance shooting left a lot to be desired (6 of 15), but the edges did well. Goalie Viktor Kireev had a nice game, too, making 12 saves. Dmitry Zhitnikov was the most productive player on the team, scoring seven goals from the field.
Expert Betting Tips
The Russian national team's problems with their half-backs aren't going anywhere, and in their only away game, this could have an impact. The Slovaks aren't playing their best defense, but Viktor Kireev isn't strong enough to pull off a scoring drive. The home team's squad is close to optimum. They need to be in shape for the 3rd game. In their last home game against the Russians, the Slovak national team lost with a minimum difference. It may not be possible to repeat that result, but it's reasonable to expect a hard-fought game in this encounter. I propose to wager on the following outcomes:
- Total Over 53.5 goals for 2.50;
- Handicap 2 (+3.5) for 2.05;
- X for 9.50.