Summary: maiden wins and main round tickets booked
- Saturday's action sees wins for Montenegro and Denmark in group A against North Macedonia and Slovenia
- in group C, France beat Ukraine and Croatia defeat Serbia
- Czech Republic are victorious against the Bosnians and Spain take a main round ticket, beating Sweden, in group E
- in group F, Slovakia win their first-ever EHF EURO match against Lithuania and Russia edge out Norway
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- listen to the official EHF EURO podcast from the (Un)informed Handball Hour
- find out how to watch the tournament wherever you are
We leave you with some fighting words from Bogdan Radivojevic of Serbia. After tonight's games, groups C and F remain wide-open - the final matches will decide the two teams going forward to the main round. Denmark and Spain, however, will definitely continue in the tournament.
As usual the blog will be back tomorrow morning at 10:00 as round 2 continues in groups B and D.
We need to win against France and I am sure that in the locker room we will speak a lot about how to do it on Monday. We will never give up, to be Serbian is the proudest thing in the world for me. We will keep fighting for Serbia.
What a night! It was impossible to pick which match to follow, especially at 20:30 CET with such an array of drama and handball skills on display.
So it's normal if you missed one or more of the games - don't worry, here are all the match reviews to remind you what happened.
22:11 | FULL-TIME
SLOVENIA 23:34 DENMARK
Given the way Slovenia played against North Macedonia, many would perhaps have expected this to be closer - but led by Niklas Landin and Mikkel Hansen in fine form, Denmark ended up cruising to a big 11-goal victory. They are in the main round.
CROATIA 23:20 SERBIA
A low-scoring match with aggressive defence delivered all the expected drama, throwing group C wide open. There's all to play for on Monday night!
SPAIN 32:28 SWEDEN
After struggling against the Czech Republic, the pressure was on Spain, and they delivered. Sweden kept pressing but in the end Spain were able to move away and book their main round place.
NORWAY 22:23 RUSSIA
Russia showed their big win against Lithuania on Thursday was no fluke, and took the fight to Norway - who took too long to get into the game. In the last 90 seconds both Harald Reinkind and Sander Sagosen missed the opportunity to equalise. The result means no team n group F has a main round spot secured.
Have Croatia done enough? It's 19:15 with eight minutes to go.
Spain and Russia are both clinging on by their fingertips to the lead against a determined effort from their Scandinavian opponents.
Simply an insane sequence from an insane match.
It's impossible to call the result of three of these matches. Denmark seem safe, but there's one goal between Spain and Sweden, two between Norway and Russia, and three between Croatia and Serbia.
Almost 10 minutes into the second halves, and Denmark have made the most impact, widening the gap with Slovenia to seven goals.
Sweden trail Spain by two, Russia lead Norway by three, and Croatia and Serbia remain locked in a close match marked by strong defence and few goals.
There's not much to separate any of the teams. Spain have the biggest half-time lead, three goals, but don't count Sweden out. Perhaps the most surprising result at the moment is that Russia lead Norway by two.
Here are some thoughts on the action - first off, Croatia vs Serbia:
This game is as tight on the court as it is exciting seen from the tribunes. Both teams' defence are in place and few are the opportunities to score. So far, Croatia have been just a little bit more efficient, but defensively, not offensively. They grabbed a couple of balls which allowed them to score fastbreaks. But expect the derby to be a tight affair all the way until the 60th minute!
And thoughts on Spain vs Sweden ...
The two medal contenders, Spain and Sweden, are entertaining the fans with all you could expect from a match like this: individual world class from the likes of Swedish mastermind Jim Gottfridsson, speed from both sides, tactical variations like the difference both sides use their line players, and the efficiency of Spain's counter-attacks. The defending champions counted on a strong goalkeeper Rodrigo Corrales and turnover to pull ahead to a three-goal advantage.
Denmark are just leading Slovenia, but it's fairly close. The inexperienced goalkeeper Joze Baznik is playing well again, here batting away a Mikkel Hansen strike.
A sublime goal from Serbia's Bogdan Radivojevic shows the excitement of this match with Croatia, in front of lots of fans from both teams. Serbia have just equalised after 16 minutes.
In Szeged, Croatia have scored the first two goals and Serbia are yet to find the net after five minutes. Ivan Cupic, playing his 50th EHF EURO match, is the scorer for both Croatia's goals.
The next four matches are underway and in Bratislava, Sweden's Jim Gottfridsson is the first to score.
Have you caught your breath? Good, because it's time for the next set of matches.
If you speak Spanish, head to Twitch and join Victor Melida and Alex Dujshebaev for the watch-along of Spain vs Sweden!
19:38 | FULL-TIME
NORTH MACEDONIA 24:28 MONTENEGRO
Montenegro wrap up their second-ever EHF EURO win - they also won a match in 2020. North Macedonia's hopes of the main round look to be over.
CZECH REPUBLIC 27:19 BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA
The Czechs keep things interesting in group E with their first win of the tournament, but it's a second loss for Bosnia and Herzegovina. Matej Klima shone with eight goals.
SLOVAKIA 31:26 LITHUANIA
The co-hosts take their first EHF EURO win EVER - a solid performance against Lithuania. They are clearly, and rightly, delighted.
19:28 | FULL-TIME
FRANCE 36:23 UKRAINE
France take their second victory, making it look comprehensive against Ukraine. They must wait for the result of the game between Croatia and Serbia to be sure they are progressing, but a main round berth looks likely.
Wesley Pardin played one superb game for France at the IHF Men's World Championship 2021 before missing the rest of the tournament after an injury. But he's back on court tonight, giving Vincent Gerard a rest after he started the match, and is playing a blinder so far with four saves from 11 shots.
Montenegro have opened up a three-goal lead. And there's a nervous moment for North Macedonia, as Nikola Mitrevski runs for the ball and collides with the Montenegrin attack. It goes to video replay, but there is no sanction for the Macedonian keeper and play continues.
France lead Ukraine 24:17, Bosnia have closed back to 16:18 against the Czechs, and Slovakia lead Lithuania 23:18.
In Szeged, Dymtro Horiha commits a high foul on Ludovic Fabregas; Fabregas goes down and after a video replay Horiha is given a red card. It's a blow for Ukraine as he's scored seven times already - five more goals than any of his teammates - and France must surely be confident of cruising to the win now.
Nikola Mitrevski took the court late in the second half, and seems to be showing no effects of his absence from the squad. He definitely stopped Montenegro from going into the break further ahead.
It’s a true Balkan derby here in Debrecen. Energy and passion from both teams can really be felt in the Fonix Aréna. The Macedonian fans are pumping the atmosphere for their team who are trailing by one. and coach Kiril Lazarov is trying to find the perfect line up to catch up with Montenegro. Maybe the comeback of Nikola Mitrevski between the posts will do the trick.
18:40 | HALF-TIME
North Macedonia have closed up the gap and Montenegro lead by only one goal going into the break - the closest match by far of the four currently playing.
Benjamin Buric will need a lot more saves like this if Bosnia and Herzegovina are to challenge the Czech Republic. He's performing well - saving 31 per cent of shots so far - but with Tomas Mrvka on 43 per cent at the other end of the court, and the Czechs leading 12:8, it's not the best start for Bosnia.
Over in Szeged, France are leading handily against Ukraine - 13:7 after 20 minutes. Romain Lagarde, Hugo Descat and Thibaud Briet have scored three each including this from Descat, where he seems to hang in the air for an age.
It's a great debut from Briet, who's showing why he's been picked for tonight as Nikola Karabatic rests.
Montenegro hold a three-gold lead over North Macedonia in the first of our Balkan derbies tonight. Here's Mirko Radovic scoring an early beauty.
Although Martin Tomovski is currently between the Macedonian posts, the good news for the team is that Nikola Mitrevski is on the bench, having recovered from his bout of Covid.
And we're underway in all four games - North Macedonia, France, the Czech Republic and Slovakia all lead.
Right, it's just 20 minutes until throw-off in Debrecen, Szeged, Bratislava and Kosice - pick your match(es) and settle in.
They might be rivals on the court, but they're also neighbours - and in Szeged ahead of the Croatia vs Serbia derby there's a good mood with fans hanging out together enjoying the beautiful Hungarian weather.
France are resting Nikola Karabatic tonight. According to the start list, Thibaud Briet will play this evening, with the 22-year-old Nantes left back making his EHF EURO debut against Ukraine. That means France have three left backs (Briet, Karl Konan, and Romain Lagarde) and two centre backs (Aymeric Minne and Kentin Mahe) at their disposal.
A bit of pre-match fun - go to this tweet on your phone, take a screenshot, and see which player you are!
Spain vs Sweden is our Match of the Day, but at the same time the Balkan clash between Croatia and Serbia is also going to be an essential one. Croatia have to win to stay in the tournament, and Serbia want to build on their first-round success. Yesterday Serbia's coach, Toni Gerona, spoke about the importance of the game.
I have played some top games like Barça against Ciudad Real, but this really is another level. We expect a very heated game, with the fans in the stands to push both sides. Even though I am not Serbian, I can feel there is this special mood among my players. I have crossed paths with famous Serbian players in my career, such as Dejan Peric, Nenad Perunisic or Petar Nenadic, and they all told me that the derby was the game not to lose.
Not too long now until tonight's games get underway. If you're heading off to any of the matches, please take a look at the updated regulations, including a requirement for FFP2 masks in Hungary.
The last time Spain and Sweden met was in Tokyo in August, during the quarter-finals of the Olympic handball tournament. In a proper nailbiter Spain fought back from a four-goal deficit in the last quarter to win 34:33 - eventually winning bronze.
This evening, the defending EHF EURO champions will meet the world championship silver medallists again in the hunt for a main round ticket. It's likely to be one of the highlights of the day.
As a special treat for Spanish fans, we'll be hosting a watch-along on Twitch with Alex Dujshebaev and Victor Melida. It starts at 20:15 CET and will be in Spanish. Don't miss it if you're a Hispanos fan!
The blog will be back a little later on with the final build-up to the eight matches on the card for Saturday evening.
Football-style warm-ups do seem to be popular among the teams at this EHF EURO - Ukraine were at it the other day, and now it's Slovenia's turn.
One of the joys of this EHF EURO is that Hungary and Slovakia are not only handball nations themselves, but are surrounded by other handball nations. It's not too far for fans from many of the competing countries to travel to support their teams. For example, it's only 90 minutes' drive for a Czech fan in Brno to reach Bratislava, where the Czech Republic play their preliminary round matches. As a result the arena is likely to be full of red, blue and white tonight for the match against Bosnia and Herzegovina. EHF journalist Björn Pazen has found out what it's like to play a home match away from home.
Excellent news - the latest episode of the (Un)informed Handball Hour podcast has dropped. Join Alex, Brian and Chris as they talk about the shock Hungarian loss to the Netherlands, and discuss Austria vs Poland with Nikola Bilyk, Sebastian Frimmel and Kamil Syprzak. Listen or download below!
Several team members from different countries who have previously tested positive for Covid-19 are now travelling to Hungary and Slovakia, where they are tested again. For Montenegro this means coach Zoran Roganovic has managed to join his squad, and should hopefully be able to lead them against North Macedonia tonight.
The top five saves of last night's games are quite spectacular, and more than worth 90 seconds of your time to watch!
News just in: the disciplinary commission has cleared Polish left back Szymon Sicko to play tomorrow following his red card in yesterday's game against Austria. Sicko scored six goals before the red card in the 46th minute of the match, which Poland won 36:31.
Several goalkeepers were named Players of the Match on Thursday in round 1, among them Slovenia's Joze Baznik. Slovenia's win against North Macedonia was Baznik's major tournament debut, and he stepped up magnificently to the challenge of being his team's number-one goalkeeper for the game ahead of Urh Kastelic and with Urban Lesjak sidelined through Covid-19. We've found out how he's handling the nerves.
There were only three games yesterday but there were LOTS of great goals - 181 in fact. But we've picked out the top five for your enjoyment.
Some good news for Croatia at last - Luka Cindric is cleared to play tonight. His absence was definitely missed on Thursday night as the Cowboys fell 22:27 to France, alongside that of captain Domagoj Duvnjak who first tested positive for Covid-19 and now has back problems.
In their absence, Ivan Cupic stepped up as the leader of a mostly inexperienced team. Our reporter Kevin Domas caught up with Cupic after the first match to talk about the EHF EURO 2020 silver medallists' expectations for the 2022 championship.
Last night Germany, Poland and Iceland won their first-round matches, and Arkadiusz Moryto, Sigvaldi Bjørn Gudjonsson and Kai Häfner were each named Grundfos Player of the Match - here are their best moments
It's another big day in Hungary and Slovakia, with another eight matches as all the teams in groups A, C, E and F play in round 2. Several have the opportunity to seal their place in the main round, while others are fighting to stay in the tournament. Read the previews to find out more.