Reuters

World Men's Handball Championship must see matches

As the 2017 World Handball Championship in France draws near, Sports fans in general and handball fans in particular are looking forward to intense first round showdowns that rival knockout stages.

The excitement grows with every day that goes by in anticipation of the championship that will kick off on January 11th and continue until January 29th, what with the teams expected to face off in the ties being very similar in terms of prowess and capabilities, in addition to never-before-seen showdowns in the unpredictable knockout stages. 

For a comprehensive look at the schedule, click here.

Below is a list of must-watch matches (Mecca time):

Date: January 11th 


France v/s Brazil (Group A): 22.45 


The opening match will reveal just how prepared the host team is, and whether or not Brazil will manage to carry its Rio 2016 momentum into 2017. 

The two teams faced off in the Olympics quarterfinals, and France came out on top by a score of 34-27.

January 12th

Macedonia v/s Tunisia (Group B): 19:45

The first match of the tournament to feature an Arab team, and a key match for Tunisia which is set to play 3 other European teams in the group.

Tunisia defeated Macedonia in the Rio Olympics qualifiers by a score of 32-26. 

Norway v/s Poland (Group A): 22:45

Both teams will be fighting for the silver medal – if not the title – and the match will prove fateful should everyone else fall before France.

Norway did surprise Poland in the second round of the 2016 European Handball Championship, winning 30-28. 

January 13th 

Qatar v/s Egypt (Group D): 16:00

A match eagerly awaited by Arab handball fans, and the outcome is anybody’s guess.

Germany v/s Hungary (Group C): 19:45

Although Germany is in better shape compared to their opponents, Hungary’s history and touted return to the world stage might spell trouble for the Germans if they don’t come running out of the gates. 

January 14th 

Tunisia v/s Spain (Group B): 19:45

The intensity of the match will depend on Tunisia’s performance in their opening match. 

Denmark v/s Egypt (Group D): 19:45

These types of matches are always brimming with anticipation and excitement in view of the teams’ different styles. While Egypt relies on speed, Denmark relies on physical prowess. 

Iceland v/s Slovenia (Group B): 16:45
Norway v/s Russia (Group A): 19:45
Hungary v/s Croatia (Group C): 22:45

Showdowns between European teams are not to miss, considering their similar performance levels and glorious handball background. 

January 15th 

Iceland v/s Tunisia (Group B): 16:45

Just like the match against Macedonia, this match may be another stepping stone for Tunisia towards the second round, and possibly towards favorable positioning in the group.

Bahrain v/s Qatar (Group D): 19:45

The top two teams in Asia (with Qatar coming out on top) face off in France. Despite clearly being the better team, Qatar barely managed to eke out the win against Bahrain in the Asian Championship final by a score of 27-22. 

France v/s Norway (Group A): 19:45

The first true European test for the hosts, and a potential match of enduring hope for Norway, who managed to defeat France in the European championship by a score of 29-24. 

January 16th 

Slovenia v/s Macedonia (Group B): 19:45
Poland v/s Russia (Group A): 22:45
Denmark v/s Sweden (Group D): 22:45

All 3 matches may affect the tournament and the overall outcome, and their results are anybody’s guess!

January 17th 

Slovenia v/s Tunisia (Group B): 19:45

Should Tunisia stumble in their first three matches, they can always use this game to survive before facing off against Angola in a (supposedly) easy last showdown. 

Qatar v/s Argentina (Group D): 19:45

The most recent meeting between the two teams in the Rio Olympics – where Qatar came out on top 22-18 – was no walk in the park for the Qataris. 

Russia v/s France (Group A): 22:45

This may be Russia’s last shot at the second round or the final rounds, and both teams’ results in their previous matches will determine the intensity and importance of the face-off. 

January 18th 

Argentina v/s Egypt / Sweden v/s Qatar (Group D): 16:00 and 22:45 respectively. 

Both matches are pivotal to the four teams’ ranking in the group, with 3 of them being strong candidates to advance to the round of 16 alongside Denmark. 

Macedonia v/s Spain (Group B): 22:45

Macedonia star Lazarov faces off against his Barcelona teammates 

January 19th 

France v/s Poland (Group A): 19:45

On paper, the match that will determine the group’s No. 1 and No. 2 

Macedonia v/s Iceland / Spain v/s Slovenia (Group B): 19:45 and 22:45 respectively
Both matches may play a pivotal role in Tunisia’s ascension to the second round following its anticipated victory against Angola (at 16:00)

January 20th 

KSA v/s Chile (Group C): 16:00

KSA’s easiest match in the world championship

Germany v/s Croatia (Group C): 19:45

On paper, the match that will determine the group’s No. 1 and No. 2 

Sweden v/s Egypt/ Qatar v/s Denmark (Group D): 19:45 and 22:45 respectively.

Both matches are pivotal to the four teams’ ranking in the group, with all four of them being strong candidates to advance to the round of 16.