Island vs. Croatia
After these two teams made their first wins in the first round, it is clear that this duel now carries the points of valuable insurances for placement in the second round of the competition. The difference is that the victory of Iceland has not yet been expected against the favoured Sweden, while the victory of the host Croatia was quite expected. The Icelanders have one third place in European Cup, but they have struggled in the qualifications for this championship, and they did not have good results in friendly matches. Croatia has been at the top for years, with no title of European champions. Their last mutual duels were played in the previous European Cup and then Croatia celebrated convincingly. Begins: 14.01.2018. – 20:30 CET
Island has been present for years in big competitions, but they came to this championship as outsiders. The group they arrived after the draw was very strong, and the Icelanders have rejuvenated their team a little bit, though the experienced Sigurdsson returned the left wing. Iceland has struggled in the qualifiers for this championship in a very unpleasant group with Macedonia, the Czech Republic and Ukraine, and they lost to all three of these teams as guests, but have still managed to qualify in the championship and they were named a team that would hardly be able to do something more.
However, they were really good in the first round, they have mastered Sweden in a fairly convincing way, although the final 26:24 does not show that. From the start they set their rhythm and took the lead at moments, even with nine goals difference, so the win did not come into question. Gudmundsson led them from the left back-court, followed by the experienced Sigurdsson, while the first star of the team Palmarsson did not have his day.
Probable lineups Island: Gustavsson, Sigurdsson, O.Gudmundsson, Palmarsson, Karason, Gunnarsson, B.Gunnarsson
The semi-finals is the least that the host of this championship wants to achieve, and in the first round they played a match with Serbia. These duels are always full of charges, and this time the home field meant extra pressure, but they endured it all and have mastered their big rivals practically declined with ten goals difference in the game. There was only the uncertainty in the first half, although Croatia had been in the lead since the beginning and only in the finish of the first part, this advantage grew to sensational five goals difference.
In the second half, they waited patiently for the opponent to fall and then they mastered them, especially with their great defence, which was expected of this team, and with their variable attack, in which the first star of this team DUvnjak, has failed to give his full contribution, due to injury. But Stepancic from the right back-court had a maximum effect, and the wings were excellent, Strlek and Horvat. The real leader of this team is the center back-court Cindric and it is obvious that the host has the quality for a good result in this championship.
Probable lineups Croatia: Alilovic, Strlek, Mamic, Cindric, Stepančic, Horvat, Vori
Croatia is certainly a big favourite, but the Icelanders are relieved and they have no imperative, especially after the opening victory and they could create a lot of problems for the host, so we do not believe that Croatia can achieve a slight victory as it was the case in the first round