And then, there were four…
To keep up with tradition, USATH will take full credit for predicting Norway’s and Montenegro’s quarterfinals victories.
RB Katarina Bulatovic's last second 7M shot gave Montenegro a 23-22 victory win over tournament favorite France. This is Montenegro’s first ever participation to the Olympics and first ever semifinal berth.
Super star CB Bojana Popovic received the help she deserved from her team mates as she tallied 6 goals. France controlled much of the game but Montenegro took over midway through the second half. This was a bitter end for France who looked very strong in the preliminaries. Unfortunately peaking early is just like tipping your hand in poker. Tournaments are a marathon, not a sprint. It’s how you finish that counts.
Norway trailed Brasil by as many as 6 goals but with 20 minutes left in the game, Norway finally took full control of the contest for an eventual 21-19 victory. Norway surprised some with a mediocre group stage campaign. Yet, when it counted most, the current Olympic champions delivered. Unlike France, Norway’s group stage strategy paid huge dividends.
Norway will face South Korea in the semis, after the Asian champions knocked off Russia 24:23. Not much of a surprise here, as South Korea has been one of the most consistent teams of the tournament so far. Russia’s style of play is no longer as dominant or impressive as it once used to. Trefilov’s ladies are predictable and slow – playing a handball that looks stale at times.
Spain made history in their 25-22 defeat of Croatia. The win marked the first time ever that the Spanish women reached the final four at the Olympics. Spain did get a big break. Leading by one early in the second half, Croatia lost left back Andrea Penezic to an ankle injury. Without enough firepower, Spain turned the deficit into a 22:19 lead. Just like Montenegro, this was Croatia’s first Olympic appearance.
Now, for the semis –
Montenegro – Spain:
It’s the first time in Olympic semi finals for both teams. Spain is the more experienced squad so the pressure will naturally be on them to deliver a victory. Montenegro on the other hand is USATH’s dark horse – so naturally, they’ll win!
Norway – South Korea:
Too bad these two powerhouses have to meet in the semis. Both can put on a show and whichever team wins the contest will most likely also win the gold medal. South Korea has what it takes to overcome just about every style of handball and may very well be Norway’s kryptonite. However, USATH thinks that the Koreans may have peaked too early. Norway will win this one.