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Rookies and stalwarts set to shine at EHF EURO

20221106 AH 3577 2 EHF / Adrian Costeiu

The 15th edition of the Women’s EHF EURO is just around the corner, with a month separating us from the throw-off of the competition that brings together Europe’s top 16 women’s national teams in Slovenia, North Macedonia, and Montenegro.

The sides have already announced their 35-player provisional rosters, offering a sneak peak behind the curtains and delivering some fresh answers regarding the stalwarts ready to take the EHF EURO by storm, but also providing some future stars who will probably make their mark in the competition.

Experienced players ready to write another page of history

Surely, the EHF EURO 2022 will bring together another collection of stars, which have already marked the history of the competition and are due to renew their relationship with the flagship European tournament for national teams.

And when it comes to the EHF EURO, there is no player in its history which has scored more goals than Romania's Cristina Neagu. The 34-year-old left back will feature in her eighth consecutive tournament and is one of only four players to have scored at least 200 goals.

In fact, Neagu has scored 264 goals and has 59 goals over the second top scorer in history, Agnes Farkas. The Romanian star needs 36 more to become the first player, female or male, to pass the 300 goal mark.

While Neagu might be one of the fan favorites in women's handball, there is no doubt a huge respect in place when talking about Katrine Lunde, one of the top goalkeepers in the history of women's handball.

Lunde has won five gold medals at the EHF EURO and can become the first player to win the trophy six times, taking her past Karoline Dyhre Breivang, Marit Malm Frafjord, Linn-Kristin Riegelhuth Koren, Camilla Herrem and Kari Aalvik Grimsbø.

Norway's goalkeeper also needs only three games to become the player with the most caps at the EHF EURO, standing now at 52, only two shy of the record set by France's left wing, Siraba Dembele.

Other stalwarts who will likely cement their legacy in the tournament are Montenegro's right wing, Jovanka Radicevic and Norway's right back Nora Mørk. Radicevic will feature in her sixth EHF EURO edition and needs only 29 goals to hit the 200-goal mark, while Mørk can also win her fifth gold medal and has scored 169 goals in the tournament in her career.

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Fresh faces to spice up the competition

With the world of handball in a constant movement, there will also definitely be high-profile rookies who will make their debut in Montenegro, North Macedonia and Slovenia and will be ready to make their mark in the competition.

One of them is Romania’s Sorina Grozav, the 24-year-old left back who shone during the friendly tournament won by her side with one month to go before the EHF EURO 2022. Grozav, who was Rapid Bucuresti’s top scorer in the season they won the Romanian league, was named the MVP of the Carpathian Trophy and was also the top scorer of the competition, with 19 goals, underlining her huge potential.

The daughter of Romania’s all-time top scorer, Mariana Tirca, who had over 2,000 goals in total for the team, Grozav has big boots to fill, but already looks to be a star in the making, underlining her potential when she secured the top goal scorer award at the W17 EHF EURO 2015 and at the W19 EHF EURO 2017.

Another player who will make her debut in Group C is Dutch left back Kim Molenaar. The MVP of the 2022 IHF Women’s Junior World Championship and its top scorer, with 64 goals, Molenaar has a strong handball IQ and a powerful shot, making her a dual threat on both sides of the ball.

Spain usually pride themselves on the defence, but they unearthed a jewel in attack in diminutive back Paula Arcos, who can cover all three positions on the back line in attack. With speed, creativity and huge guts, Arcos will be a mainstay in Spain’s lineup for the future and, at only 21 years old, has already one major event under her belt – Spain’s home 2021 World Championship.

One other rookie who could get meaningful time on the court is Tyra Axnér, the All-star left back of the W17 EHF EURO 2019, where Sweden secured the silver medal. Axnér was also the best player for Sweden at the 2022 IHF Women’s Junior World Championship and this could be the first time she announces herself on the biggest of stages if given the time.

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High-profile names miss out on the EHF EURO 2022

Like in every edition of the EHF EURO, there are some players who will miss due to injury or have retired from the game in the past two years, since the previous edition, played in Denmark and won by Norway has elapsed.

Two of the four players that have scored at least 200 goals at the EHF EURO, Sweden’s Isabelle Gulldén and Spain’s Carmen Martin, will not feature this November for their national sides. Gulldén has retired from international handball after the last game of the EHF EURO 2020, while Martin has not been included in the 35-player squad this time.

Norway will be seriously weakened with no less than three players missing the tournament due to pregnancy. And their absence will be surely felt, as one of them is the MVP of the 2021 IHF Women’s World Championship, line player Kari Brattset Dale, while the other two are their mainstay left wings, Camilla Herrem and Sanna Solberg-Isaksen. Herrem will, therefore, miss the chance to become the first player to win six gold medals at the EHF EURO.

The top goal scorer of the 2019 World Championship, Lois Abbingh, gave birth in September and is missing the tournament, as is her pregnant Dutch teammate, goalkeeper Tess Wester.

Reigning Olympic champions France cannot count on goalkeeper Amandine Leynaud, who retired as a player but will be with the team as goalkeeper coach, while centre back Méline Nocandy tore her ACL in September and will be out for the season.

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