28-26. Spain kicks off with a long-suffering victory over the Czech Republic

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The Spanish handball team, winner of the last two Europeans, started its career in the European Championship in Hungary and Slovakia with a long-suffering victory, after beating the Czech Republic 28-26 this Thursday, in a match in which the “Hispanics” insisted on crashing with Czech goalkeeper Tomas Mrkva.

A lack of efficiency that little by little was overshadowing the good defensive work of the Spanish team, which despite the generational change in which it is immersed in this round, once again showed that it has a solid defense.

It seems that something else is going to cost, apparently against the Czech Republic, the transition in attack, despite the hints of hope left by both Ian Tarrafeta and AgustĆ­n Casado, the new managers of the Spanish team.

But as Spanish coach Jordi EspaƱol always highlights, the arrival of new players will not only put the talent of the young newcomers to the test, but will also force veterans to take a step forward.

Just as Eduardo Gurbindo and Antonio GarcĆ­a did, who hid many times in previous championships before the brilliance of RaĆŗl EntrerrĆ­os, Julen Aginagalde or Dani Sarmiento, today they demonstrated their leadership by throwing the team on their back in decisive moments.

In particular, an Antonio GarcĆ­a who with his goals in the final minutes allowed Spain to rise with a victory (28-26) that should serve the “Hispanics” as the starting point to not stop growing.

Aware of the importance of starting the tournament with a victory, the Spanish team did not hesitate to appeal from the beginning to their best weapon, defensive intensity, the pillar on which the recent successes of the “Hispanics” have been based.

A work in which the couple that formed in the axis of the defense GideĆ³n Guardiola and IƱaki PeciƱa shone, one of the five debutantes that Spain presents in this European, which showed that it can be a relief of guarantees for the longed-for Viran Morros.

In fact, the defense was in charge of supporting in the opening minutes of a match, in which Jordi Ribera’s men showed that if the generational change has not diminished their defensive strength, the transition in attack will require a little more time.

Without the fluidity necessary to get the ball in advantage to their ends and pivots, the attack of the Spanish team was reduced to distant shots by Antonio GarcĆ­a and Jorge Maqueda, who crashed again and again with an inspired Tomas Mrkva, who at eight minutes of play already counted five stops.

A circumstance that allowed the Czech Republic to acquire a two-goal lead (2-4) after ten minutes, which if in previous championships had been considered an anecdote, this time put the mental strength of the renewed Spanish team to the test.

But Spain can always rely on its defense, which raised its intensity a point to finally drown out the attack by the Czech Republic, which took more than six minutes to score again.

A defensive solidity that allowed the “Hispanics” to completely turn the scoreboard with a 4-0 run that placed Jordi Ribera’s men with a two-goal lead (6-4) after the halfway point of the first half.

An improvement that little by little was also transferred to the attack, where the young central defender Ian Tarrafeta once again left, as with a beautiful feint or an extraordinary pass to the pivot, samples of the enormous talent and, above all, of the great future that awaits him in the selection.

A step ahead of Tarrafeta who found his best partner in an Eduardo Gurbindo, who not only once again demonstrated his intelligence to know at all times what the game requires, but also revealed himself as an accurate scorer with the three goals he scored in the first partial.

With Tarrafeta and Gurbindo energizing the offensive game, the Spanish team gave a new acceleration on the scoreboard, taking advantage of the exclusions of Stanislav Kasparek and Vaclav Franc to reach a maximum income of four goals 12-8, which remained in three (14-11) when the break comes.

A break that could not sit better with the Czech goalkeeper Tomas Mrkva, who next season will play in the almighty German Kiel, which, as happened at the beginning of the contest, was in charge of frustrating the Spanish players with his saves.

If in the first half the Czech goalkeeper showed his solvency against long shots, in the second he showed his effectiveness at six-meter shots, counting up to six interventions in the first ten minutes of the second set.

Fact that reduced the advantage of the Spanish team to just two goals (17-15) condemning Jordi Ribera’s men to a much tougher match than expected against an increasingly grown Czech Republic with the saves of their goalkeeper.

In fact, only Gurbindo, who scored another three goals in the second half, seemed capable of beating the Czech goalkeeper, as demonstrated when the Navarrese side had to leave the court to take a break.

Without Eduardo Gurbindo, the Spanish attack once again lacked a finisher, even with two and three more players, like those it counted at times, due to the exclusions of an increasingly aggressive Czech team in defense.

Offensive problems that allowed the Central European team to reach just one goal (21-20) in the absence of less than ten final minutes that Spain started with one man less due to the exclusion of IƱaki PeciƱa.

Moment of truth in which another of the debutants in the tournament broke in, the central AgustĆ­n Casado, who with two almost consecutive goals (24-21) seemed to give air to the Spanish team, although if there was a protagonist in the final minutes that was the veteran Antonio GarcĆ­a, who with his final goals ensured the victory (28-26) of the Spanish team.

Data sheet:

Spain: PĆ©rez de Vargas (1); Aleix GĆ³mez (4, 3p), Maqueda (2), GideĆ³n Guardiola (-), PeciƱa (-), Antonio GarcĆ­a (3) and Ɓngel FernĆ”ndez (3) -starting team- Corrales (ps), Gurbindo (6), SolĆ© (2), Figueras (3), CaƱellas (1), Married (2), AriƱo (), Tarrafeta (1) and SĆ”nchez-MigallĆ³n ()

Czech Republic: Mrkva; Jurka (1), Kasparek (3), Babak (5), Becvar (1), Hrstka (6, 3p) and Reichl (3) -starting team- Mizera (ps), Piroch (2), Cip (1), Petrovsky (2), Vanco (-), Klima (-), Patzel (1), Solak (1) and Franc (-)

Score every five minutes: 1-1, 2-4, 5-4, 9-7, 12-9 and 14-11 (Half time) 15-13, 17-15, 20-16, 21-19, 25-22 and 28-26 (Final)

Referees: Pavicevic and Raznatovic (MNE). CaƱellas and PeciƱa were excluded for two minutes for Spain; and to Kasparek (2), Franc, Petrovsky, Becvar, Patzel and Solak for the Czech Republic.

Incidents: Meeting corresponding to the first day of group E of the first phase of the European Championship in Hungary and Slovakia held at the Ondrej Nepela Arena in Bratislava.

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