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Date: 1/25/2013

Like two years ago, Denmark has reached the final of the Men’s World Championship. In a tough, but finally unexpected clear semi-final duel the Danes beat Croatia 30:24 (14:11) in Barcelona on Friday (25 January). The runners-up of the 2011 World Championship and current European champion will face host Spain on Sunday (throw-off 17u.15 hrs. local time) in the final, while the Croats fight for the bronze medal against their neighbours from Slovenia on Saturday (19.00 hrs. local time).

Match winner for the Danes, who have reached their third World Championship final after 1967 (defeat against Czech Republic) and 2011 (defeat against France after extra-time), was goalkeeper Niklas Landin. Aside the Danes took revenge for their clear ten-goal defeat at the Olympic Games against the Croats. For the Croatian team the match against Slovenia will be their third bronze final in only twelve month after winning this medal games at the European championship 2012 against Spain and at the Olympic Games 2012 against Hungary. In London, Denmark beat the Spaniards closely in the preliminary round. But in contrast to the Danes, the Spaniards already stood on top of the winner’s podium of a World Championship, winning gold in 2005 in the final against Croatia.

The second semi-final of the World Championship in Spain was as clear as the first one. In the end Denmark won well-deserved by 30:24 because they were clearly in lead during the whole 60 minutes.

Denmark took a brilliant start and was in lead by 6:1 after only ten minutes. Niklas Landin, the Danish keeper, reached a saving percentage of 80. So the time had come for a very early time-out for Croatian coach Slavko Goluza – but nothing changed. The Danish team defended their five-goal lead and even forged ahead to 10:4 after 18 minutes. But then Croatia scored three straight times and seemed to have waken up. Denmark was clever and had always the right answer, after the first 30 minutes the Scandinavians were in lead by three goals (14:11).

Right in the beginning of the second half Croatia shortened the margin to 14:16 and they hoped finally to be back in this match, but then were shaken again by three consecutive Danish goals to 19:14 (minute 35). For the next ten minutes Croatia tried everything to come closer but Denmark played it very well in defence with a superb goalkeeper Landin. Several times Croatia missed good chances, when they had the opportunity to reduce to a two-goal distance. Latest, six minutes before the end Danish Nikolaj Markussen decided the encounter, when scoring the 26:20.

Finally the clear backlog in the beginning (1:6) was too huge to bridge the gap for the Croats. Best scorer of the match was Danish Anders Eggert with nine goals in eleven attempts (82 per cent).

Statements after the match:

Ulrik Wilbek, coach Denmark: We had very much respect, but we had a plan to start very fast each in the beginning of the first and the second half. Croatia did not find into this match. I am really very satisfied with my team. Now it will be very difficult to play against the host Spain and to play against 16.000 spectators. But it does not mean that we cannot beat them.

Henrik Toft, player Denmark: Croatia played very good during this tournament. But today we did it very good in defence and attack.

Niklas Landin, goalkeeper Denmark: I did not win the match, but Anders Eggert. To be serious: The whole team has won the game. We showed a brilliant match against a strong opponent, now we have two days to prepare for the final against Spain. If we play like today, we will dream our dream and become World Champion.

Hans Lindberg, player Denmark: In my opinion it was a good day for our team. We started well and a strong defence. Those shots we could not block, were saved by Niklas Landin. Our wing players were very good, but we had problems to score against Mirko Alilovic – but fortunately this was not decisive. Now the time has come for us, but we are not the favourite. Before the tournament I said Spain is the favourite, no I hope that my prediction is not correct…

Slavko Goluza, coach Croatia: We lost a lot of energy in the quarter-final against France. We were not in the shape we should be. As everybody saw, we had a bad start. And Denmark seemed to get all the rebounds. Today we faced an incredible Danish team and they punished every mistake we made. Now we have to get this match out of our head to face Slovenia and win the bronze medal.

Igor Vori, player Croatia: For the third time in less than one year we lost a semi-final. The first ten minutes proved everything. In one Danish attack they got three rebounds. But if we finish this tournament with a medal we can go home with our heads up high. But Slovenia did not coincidently reach the semifinal. They played a very good tournament. We have a lot of respect. But we also played a good tournament. We are on the right track with a lot of players just 19 or 20 years old.