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Croatia

Forever bound for bronze: Croatia are the first handball team ever to hold three bronze medals from major competitions at the same time. In Serbia they finished third at the EHF EURO 2012, seven months later they won the bronze final at the Olympic Games and at January's World Championship they ranked third again.

The results in London and Spain did not reflect the strength of the team, who showed they were the best team of the tournament up until the semi-finals, before being defeated by France (Olympic Games) and Denmark (World Championship).Head coach Slavko Goluza implemented a complete change in the team's tactic, with fast breaks being the key ingredient.

Wing players Manuel Strlek and Ivan Cupic represent this change, which is based on a solid defence and strong goalkeeping by Mirko Alilovic. When that doesn't work, they can always rely on the back court prowess of one of the best players in the world Domagoj Duvnjak, who was named in the 2013 World Championship All-star team and led HSV Hamburg to the VELUX EHF Champions League title.

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Key Players

Igor Vori

The exceptional line player and defence specialist has won nearly every title that the sport has to offer but the European Championship gold medal remains elusive.

In 2003 he won World Championship gold, swiftly followed by Olympic gold in 2004. After the start of his professional playing career in Zagreb, Vori spent two years in Italy before returning to RK Zagreb.

2005 saw him move to FC Barcelona for two seasons before another stint with Zagreb. From 2009 to 2013 he played for HSV Hamburg in Germany with which he won the VELUX EHF Champions League in his final season for the club. He now plays for French champions PSG Handball in France.

Vori, with his Croatian national teammates, has also won four silver medals (WC 2005, 2009 and EHF EURO 2008, 2010).

 

Domagoj Duvnjak

Duvnjak, a true innovator, not only has a good connection to his teammates, but also is an extraordinarily gifted goal scorer due to his ability to handle himself in 1-on-1 situations.

His international career started at RK Zagreb before he moved to HSV Hamburg in 2009 where he plays or played with fellow countrymen Igor Vori and Blezenko Lackovic.

Duvnjak was selected to the senior national team in 2008 and since then he has won three silver medals (EHF EURO events in 2008 and 2010 and the World Championship in 2009) and three times bronze (EHF EURO 2012, Olympic Games 2012 and 2013 World Championship).

Additionally, he also won the VELUX EHF Champions League with HSV in 2013.

 

Ivan Cupic

The Croatian right wing was the second best goal scorer at the London 2012 Olympic Games at which Croatia won bronze.

His star has been on the rise since he was voted into the All-star team and won silver at the 2009 World Championship on home court.

Despite losing one finger in a tragic accident in 2008 he continued his excellent game and won silver at the EHF EURO 2010, bronze at the EHF EURO 2012 and bronze again at the 2013 World Championship.

In June 2013 he reached the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in Cologne where finished third with Polish side Vive Targi Kielce.

THE COACH - Slavko Goluza

After spending four years as his assistant, Slavko Goluza took over the reins of the national team from the legendary Lino Cervar in 2010 and at his first major tournament in charge, the team ranked 5th at the 2011 World Championship in Sweden.

He then steered the team to three consecutive bronze medals, the first being achieved at the EHF EURO 2012 in Serbia, the second at the London Olympic Games and the most recent one at the 2013 World Championship.

As a player, Goluza made his mark on the back court and has numerous medals and titles to his name: Olympic Gold in 1996 and 2004, World Championship gold in 1995 and 2003, European Cup winner in 1992 and 1993 with RK Zagreb and several national championship titles as well.

After a stint with Metkovic Jambo, Goluza moved to France and then Hungary, where he played for Fotex Veszprem, before returning in 2004 to RK Zagreb only to win two more national titles.

Past Performance at EHF EURO Events

Year Event host Place/Medal
1994 Portugal Bronze
1996 Spain 5th place
1998 Italy 8th place
2000 Croatia 6th place
2002 Sweden 16th place
2004 Slovenia 4th place
2006 Switzerland 4th place
2008 Norway Silver
2010 Austria Silver
2012 Serbia Bronze