Croatia want to stay on top

MATCH PREVIEW: Their Group D encounter against Montenegro can already book them the ticket to the main round

Photos: Brian Lindberg Jensen

After beating Belarus with the highest goal-margin at the EHF EURO 2014 to date (33:22), Croatia are ready to take their campaign in Denmark a step further when they meet Montenegro in a Group D match on Wednesday (18:00 hrs).

And even though everyone expects the encounter between Croatia and Sweden on Friday (17 January) to be the match to decide first place in Group D, Croatia are far away from underestimating their opponents.

"We expect to win, of course. But we know it (Montenegro) is a good team - they've beaten Germany in the qualification," said right wing Zlatko Horvat.

"They are always dangerous and we have to prepare very good for that game."

Montenegro's team official Petar Kapisoda says that the team's performance against Sweden on Monday when they lost 21:28 is a thing of the past, but now the team has to step up against Croatia.

"We have a few players (Stevan Vujovic and Mirko Milasevic) with small injuries, however, they were able to play yesterday and will be ready to play against Croatia."

There was more good news from the Montenegrin injury camp as line player Nemanja Grbovic was declared fit after team doctors had feared that he might have broken his ribs in the match against Sweden.

However an x-ray confirmed on Tuesday that it is 'just' a bruised muscle.

"Although it is hurting and it is a bad injury for a line player, who have to take a lot of pushing on the line, I will be ready to play tomorrow," Grbovic said.

So Kapisoda gives his team the go ahead.

"We want to play to our maximum and show why we are here, the score against Sweden was too high and we need to improve to have a chance against Croatia," Kapisoda said.

At the same time Montenegro are aware that it is likely the match on Friday against Belarus, might be the decisive one for a spot in the main round.

And while they are focussing on the match against Croatia, some thoughts are already going towards the Friday encounter.

"We already have Belarus in our mind, as that's the game we have to play at our best to have chance to qualify for the next round," said Papisoda.

If Croatia manage to beat Montenegro, they will have already qualified for the main round in Aarhus.

written by Mie Oestergaard / ts