HANDBALL Preview: France looking for a third straight title in IHF men’s Worlds

The 26th edition of the International Handball Federation’s men’s World Championships get started on the 10th, with the tournament being played for the first time in two countries.

Germany and Denmark are co-hosting the tournament, with the venues split thus:

Germany (4): Berlin, Cologne, Munich and Hamburg
Denmark (2): Copenhagen and Herning

A total of 24 teams will compete, divided into four groups:

Group A: France, Russia, Germany, Serbia, Brazil, Korea
Group B: Spain, Croatia, Macedonia, Iceland, Bahrain, Japan
Group C: Denmark, Norway, Austria, Tunisia, Chile, Saudi Arabia
Group D: Sweden, Hungary, Qatar, Argentina, Egypt, Angola

Pool play will be held from 10-17 January, with the top three teams in each group advancing to the second round, where two groups of six will be formed, playing from 19-23 January. The top two teams in each of the Round 2 groups will advance to the semifinals, finals and third-place games. The semifinals will be in Hamburg on 25 January, and the tournament final is scheduled for 27 January in Herning.

South Korea originally qualified for the tournament as the fourth-place finisher in the 2018 Asian Championships, but withdrew in favor of a “wild card” entry with a combined team of North and South Korean players.

France has dominated this tournament over the past decade, winning the last two titles in 2015 and 2017 and four of the last five. In nine IHF men’s Worlds this century, only four teams have won: France (5), Spain (2), Germany (1) and Croatia (1).

In the last five Worlds, Denmark has two silvers (2011-13) and a bronze (2009) and Spain went 3-1-4 in 2011-13-15. The last two runners-up have been Qatar (2015) and Norway (2017).

All-time, France has six titles, with four for Sweden and Romania and three for Germany.

For 2019, the oddsmakers show Denmark (9-4) and France (5-2) the favorites, with Germany at 5-1, Spain at 6-1 and Norway at 9-1. The longest odds are for Angola, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, all at 1,000-1.

There are also odds on who the top goalscorer will be, with German left winger Uwe Gensheimer at 4-1, Mikkel Hansen (DEN) at 6-1 and Macedonia’s Kiril Lazarov at 8-1.

Look for results here, and standings here.