The U19 Croatia men’s handball team played the European Championship final against Germany at 5 pm on Sunday in Varaždin.
Krešo Ivanković’s team had the chance to become the third Croatian generation to win European gold in the cadet age but unfortunately fell short against Germany to take 2nd place. Germany proved to be too strong for the young Croatia team this time around. While the two sides were even for most of the first half, Germany’s advantage grew to +5 before halftime and increased to +13 advantage in the final few minutes of the match. The final score was 20:34.
Croatia reached the final with a victory in the semifinal against Slovenia 26:22, and Germany defeated Spain 31:30 in a tense match, entering the final as a slight favorite. These two national teams already met in the second round when Germany was better 26:23. That match, however, was not crucial for Croatia because they had already secured a spot in the semifinals. This was also the only defeat that Croatia suffered in this tournament so far.
The U19 Croatia team has twice been the European handball champion. The first time was in 2006 in Estonia under the coaching staff of Irfan Smajlagić. Domagoj Duvnjak was then named the best player of the championship, and Ivan Pešić was the best goalkeeper. Four years later, this success was repeated, when Croatia was led by Silvio Ivandija.
Spain won the bronze medal, defeating Slovenia 37-28 (17-13) in the match for 3rd place.
Arnau Fernandez led Spain with 11 goals, with Jan Gurri and Carlos Alvarez scoring six each. Vid Miklavec was the best for Slovenia with seven goals, and Andraž Makuc scored six.
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