|Men’s Handball||Best Bet: France ($2.25)
Value Bet: Qatar ($21)
|Women’s Handball||Best: Norway ($2.60)
Value: Brazil ($7.00)
No this is not the handball we grew up with in school. There are no squares marked out on the ground and it is not played with a tennis ball. European handball is played on a court similar to the size of a basketball court where teams of seven pass a ball in an attempt to throw it into the goal of the opposing team.
A semi circle surrounds the goal and players must throw the ball from outside of the zone, or while jumping in, to score. It is a very fast paced game and teams often score in excess of 30 goals in a game.
France have dominated men’s handball over the last decade at all levels while in the women’s draw Norway are the two time defending Olympic champions.
Gold: France ($2.25)
In addition to winning gold at the last two Olympics, the French national side have also won 3 of the last 4 World Championships. The came up well short at the EHF Euro’s earlier this year but that should come as no surprise as it has been a common theme in an Olympic year. Claude Onesta has been at the helm for 15 years now and under his guidance the team has never won the title in the same year as the Olympic Games. The Olympics has been set as the target and this year is no different. Their squad boasts three men who have been named World Handball Player Of The Year – namely Nikola Karabitic, Thierry Omeyer and most recently Daniel Nacrisse. The trio have been stalwarts at the the back and have made France neat impossible to break down in big matches. Don’t worry too much about the group stage – when it counts they will suffocate their opponents into submission.
Silver: Croatia ($7.00)
Croatia have medaled in 3 of the last 5 Olympics including gold in Atlanta and Athens. They are drawn in the group of death alongside favourites France but this will ensure that they are playing at their peak throughout. If they quinella thr group with France it also means they will be drawn on oppossite sides for the knockout stages meaning they are likely to only meet again if they can both progress to the gold medal match.
Bronze: Germany ($9.00)
The Germans qualified for the Olympics on the back of their European Championship last year. They trounced Spain in the final and won 7 of their 8 matches during the tournament. The majority of their squad plays in Germany but the two men to keep an eye on both play abroad. Their two wingers, Gensheimer and Reichmann will be providing most of the goals in attack and are extremely skillful.
Roughie: Qatar ($21)
The Qatari side have made headlines for bending the rules. At last year’s World Championship their side featured players who were born in Spain, Cuba and France while their goalkeeper has already played for Serbia and Bosnia. Qatari officials are right when they say they are complying with the rules and it has allowed them to become a real contender in Rio.
Norway and Denmark have dominated women’s handball over the last two decades. The Danish side won gold in Atlanta, Sydney and Athens with Norway looking to match their three-peat following wins in Beijing and London. Denmark though will not be present in Rio after failing to qualify early this year. They had to replace several key players in the qualifying tournament and consequently lost matches to Romania and Montenegro.
France, Netherlands, Romania, Montenegro, Russia and Sweden will join Norway as the European representatives with Korea, Angola, Argentina and hosts Brazil filling the other spots. Norway made their way to Brazil nice and early for a two game series against Brazil back in June. ‘Linka’ will lead the way for the Norwegians and with 967 goals for the national team she is likely to reach the 1000 goal mark en route to collecting her 3rd consecutive Olympic gold medal.
Russia are in the market as the second favourites but The wolf is sticking with the experience and results of Norway and has marked Brazil as the only side that can beat them.
Don’t forget to check out our full coverage of the Olympic Games.