Two places for U21 World Championship to be booked
After 10 European teams qualified for the 2023 IHF Men's U21 World Championship at the M20 EHF EURO in Portugal last year, the final two places will be booked at this weekend's qualification tournament in Italy.
A total of seven teams are in the running for one of the two remaining places, to join Iceland, Portugal, Spain, Serbia, Sweden, Denmark, France, Hungary, Slovenia, the Faroe Islands, and co-hosts Greece and Germany at the championship in the summer.
- group A consists of Italy, Croatia, Montenegro and Israel
- group B sees Poland, Norway and the Czech Republic go head-to-head
- the winner of each group will qualify for the world championship
- Croatia won silver at the 2019 edition of the U21 World Championship, losing to France in the final
- Montenegro have never played an U21 World Championship, while Norway are looking for their 13th participation
- Poland are guaranteed a place in the 2025 U21 World Championship, as they are hosting it
Can home advantage bring Italy back to the top?
Italy finished 12th at the M20 EHF EURO, losing 34:45 to Iceland in their placement match. That result secured Iceland an automatic qualifying spot at the U21 World Championship, but it was still a sign of a positive future for Italy.
Last year was Italy's first participation at an M20 EHF EURO, and they won two games out of the seven played. There were stand-out performances from centre back Nicola Fadanelli and left back Thomas Bartoli, who scored 44 and 40 goals respectively.
Italy have not played at an U21 World Championship since 1985, when they finished 12th on home turf. They now host the qualification tournament in the central city of Chieti, and if they can replicate the form from Portugal last year they have a good chance of making it back to the top for the first time in 38 years.
How to watch
The qualification tournament will be shown by broadcasters from all seven competing nations, plus others across Europe, as well as being shown on the EHF streaming service EHFTV.
CRO, BIH, KOS, MNE, MKD, SLO, SRB - Arenasport
ITA – Eleven sports
ISR – Channel 5
POL, CZE, NOR – Solidsport
Worldwide – EHFTV (geo-restrictions may apply)