EURO MIXED TEAMS 2011 – Groups Take Shape

After two days of play, the main contenders for the 2011 European Mixed Team Championships have began to emerge from the pack. 3 round robin ties played with one round […]

After two days of play, the main contenders for the 2011 European Mixed Team Championships have began to emerge from the pack. 3 round robin ties played with one round remaining and already the big guns have flexed their muscles and top all 8 groups.

By Mark Phelan.    Photos: Badmintonphoto (Live in Amsterdam)

Business as usual in Amsterdam as the shake down in the group stages continues. In group 1, Denmark continue to dominate but it is the manner and method of their domination that must strike fear into the rest of the top teams. Another 5-0 win this time against Italy and so far in two days of play not a game dropped.

In group 2, Germany to have been convincing against both Estonia and Latvia. However both Karin Schnasse and Marc Zwiebler both dropped games before clinching victory against Estonia today 5-0, which must be somewhat worrying for the German backroom team ahead of much more difficult matches to come.

In group 3, England will look to build on their win over Austria today and head in to tomorrow’s showdown with Ireland as favourites to take the group. The Irish have also won both their group matches and who knows, a shock just might be on the cards. With Scott Evans (pictured right), Chloe Magee and the combination of Sam and Chloe Magee in mixed, the Irish might just fancy their chances against their near neighbours. A lot will depend on the English team management as crucially, it is their team selection that might ultimately decide the fate of this close group.

The mood in the team has been great this week with everyone playing well and everyone fighting hard for the team. I think if we keep our focus we are in with a real shout in causing a big upset tomorrow. England will have to put out their strongest team against us I feel and we know we can take 3 of these matches if and only if we play well enough,” said Scott Evans of Ireland.

In group 4 Russia (pictured) look extremely strong and with only one game dropped already look like worthy opposition as finalists against Denmark.  Sweden are still in with a hope of upsetting the odds here but realistically in tomorrow’s group decider do not be surprised if the Russians role on with another 5-0 win.

Group 5 is a much closer contest with the much-discussed weakened Dutch (pictured bottom) as top seeds. The reality of the situation in this group is that Switzerland stand a good chance of taking the top spot as they have matched the Dutch shot for shot in disposing of both Lithuania and Iceland.

There are no stand-out stars on this Swiss team but the vastly experienced of Cicognini, Jaqeut, Boesiger and Dumartheray might just see the Swiss over the line in this group. With the Dutch struggling to see off Lithuania 3-2 in this evening’s match the momentum is certainly swinging the way of the Swiss team. One thing is for sure.  All eyes will be on this encounter tomorrow.

In group 6, a final day shootout is the order of the day between France (pictured top left) and Scotland. Both teams have been impressive against Spain and really it is as close as tossing a coin to predict who will emerge as group winner tomorrow. Both teams have won nine and just lost one match so this will be a question of who wants it most. A likely quarter-final against Germany should provide the motivation for each team and again both coaches will probably decide the group winners as team selection is critical.

Group 7 sees both Ukraine and Bulgaria battling it out for top spot after warm-up matches against Finland and Hungary. Bulgaria have Nedelcheva in their ranks and she is sure to claim a point in the women’s singles but overall, the Ukrainians look more balanced on paper and are favourites to come out on top and probably advance to a quarter-final against England.

We are a strong team and very stable and almost everyone on our team is at the same level which makes us very strong. Tomorrow, we play Bulgaria to decide the group but I feel we are stronger than them as a team and I believe if we play well as a team we can capture a medal,” said Larisa Griga of Ukraine.

Finally, group 8 really is a one horse race even with only one round of matches played. Poland, even without Wacha, look to be dominant and even if they lack in the men’s singles department, they have proven champions in Zieba, Mateusiak, Logosz and Cwalina to see them through. Lurking in the wings are players such as Kurdelska and Augustyn, who are proficient at all disciplines and give the Poles a real strength in depth in this competition and the real possibility of a medal.

Remember Badminton Europe is streaming all the action live from Amsterdam and all scores can be found here.

About Mark Phelan