Today the knockout rounds of every division started, and there were some crackers all over the beach at Praia de Rocha. Let’s not waste any time with a preamble and go right into things, starting with the division that seems to have the most teams that could possibly win the title; Maya, tell us what happened in the mixed division.
Tight division reaches semis stage
The mixed division had their pre-quarters and quarter finals today. The Spanish, French, Czechs and Italians came out on top, meaning they were to play the top four teams from the upper pool in the quarter finals. Except for Germany v Czech Republic, all the quarterfinal results were extremely close with Russia, Great Britain and Portugal just winning their spots in the semi-finals. This division has been a tight race from the start and I’m sure tomorrow’s semi-final games will be no exception. At 9:40am tomorrow, Russia will play Great Britain on the livestream whilst Germany competes against Portugal.
Sean, what happened with the men today?
Semi-finals in the books
The men’s division reached the semi-final stage today, with pre-quarters and quarters happening earlier in the day and the semi-finals later in the afternoon. Both higher-ranked teams, Denmark and Sweden, won their pre-quarters to set up games with Great Britain and Russia respectively.
Great Britain defeated Denmark with relative ease in the second half after a spirited fight from the Danish in the first half, the game ending 13-9. Russia were down late in the game against Sweden, but scored three in a row and won 11-9 to escape the upset. Spain overcame Germany with ease, 13-8, and Poland similarly handled the Irish 12-7.
Approaching the semis, GB were unhappy to be facing the Spanish again – the first match between the pair was very tight, with GB escaping with a two-point win. The semi was just as tight, with Spain taking an early 3-5 lead but GB pulling back on serve at half, up 7-6. The teams traded for much of the second half until GB notched a crucial break for an 11-9 lead, Robbie Haines finding Tom Abrams with a great throw. The teams traded two more points, allowing GB to win 12-10. In the second semi-final there were huge shifts in momentum between the teams. A huck-heavy first half saw Poland come back from 4-2 down to lead 4-6. Russia pulled themselves together and scored five in a row to win, eventually escaping 9-6 and taking their spot in the final. The two finalists get tomorrow off – everyone else will finish their tournament.
How was the women’s division, Maya?
Clear top four will decide finalists tomorrow
This morning GB and Latvia fought for a spot in the women’s semi-finals. I expected Latvia might have the edge on GB after analysing previous scores, but I thought it would be a be a much closer game than it was. Latvia’s athleticism swept the British aside from the off-set of the game, stealing eight points from GB before they could put anything on the board. The game finished 13-2.
At the same time, Russia played the Swiss on pitch one. This game was bound to go Russia’s way and finished 13-4 with Yuliya Akramova, scoring three points and assisting two more. Their following game against Denmark, top of the pool, was a shocking 13-6 win. After some frustrating losses to Latvia and Spain, the Russians would have really wanted to pull things together for this game, and they were successful in doing so. In the semi-finals tomorrow we will see if Russia are strong enough to repeat this win against the women’s divisions strongest team thus far, Denmark. In the other semi-final, Spain will rival Latvia in what I predict will be a Spanish win.
How were the women’s masters today Sean?
Semi-finals both close, with unexpected winners
The women’s masters have already played a round robin so were very familiar with each other. The semis featured the expected four teams, with Sweden playing Denmark and GB playing Spain. Sweden and Spain went in favourites, as they had been the top two teams in the pool.
Denmark were broken by Sweden early on, but snatched it back immediately. Just before the end of the first half they managed to get another break, going into half time at 6-5 up. Sweden came out on offence to start the second period but struggled against tough Danish defence. Twice Denmark broke the Swedes, extending their lead to 8-5. The teams traded, with the pressure ratcheting up higher with each point, until Sweden took a break back at 10-9. They still needed two more, and there was ultimately not enough time to get them. Denmark ran out 12-10 winners in an upset, their squad exploding from the sideline with joy when the final point went in.
GB against Spain was delayed because of an injury in another game, but the action started at a fast pace. Spain took two breaks to GB’s one in the first half, leaving the score at 6-5 to Spain. They took three more breaks out of half to extend the lead to 9-5 and make the result look inevitable. GB played with incredible determination, though, and clawed themselves back into the game by scoring six of the next eight points to tie the game at 11-11. The universe point that followed went on for nearly 10 minutes, both teams getting near their opponent’s endzone, but eventually Spain turned GB near their own line and managed to find a way to win and take a spot in the final.
How were their male counterparts, Maya?
Final set, with upset in the semis
After this morning’s pre-quarters in which Ireland and Germany beat the Dutch and Belgians, the quarterfinals took place. All quarterfinal games had clear winners; they were all won by at least five points. The result: semi-finals in which France played Spain and Czech Republic battled Sweden for a place in the final. Spain and Sweden were the successful contenders, Spain grabbing an upset 13-9 win over the unbeaten French, and will be going for gold in the final on Saturday. Sweden go in as favourites but the teams haven’t met thus far so it’ll be a tight one.
How about the mixed masters Sean?
Semi-finalists set in complicated schedule
The mixed masters’ schedule has been the most complicated of all the divisions but we finally have a simplified outlook. Great Britain managed to beat the Netherlands on universe point in their pre-semi, with only three breaks in the entire game. Each team broke in the first half, with the Netherlands up 7-6 at half time. GB held out of half and then managed to get the all-important break for a 7-8 lead, and traded out for the win. They’ll face Germany, who defeated them comfortably earlier today in the upper pool.
In the other pre-semi, Spain demolished Finland 13-3 to set up a rematch with France. The semi-finalists played in the upper pool with the French winning 10-9 in a very tight game. The rematch, with a spot in the final on offer to the victor, promises to be a belter.
Let’s go to the great grandmasters next. How was their day, Maya?
Semi-final line up set for tomorrow
The Great Grand Masters finished their last day of the round robin. After losing to Germany and Finland today, Austria were pushed from second to fourth place, meaning they will have a tough game against the Netherlands in the semi-finals. In the other semi-final, Sweden and Germany will be going head to head. Germany lost 8-10 to Sweden in the first game of the round robin, so it will be interesting to see if Germany can turn this result around tomorrow.
Sean, has anyone pushed Great Britain in the grand masters’ division yet?
Can the Spanish stop GB?
The quarters also happened in the grand masters’ division. Germany and Switzerland notched identical 12-9 wins over Finland and France respectively, while Spain topped the Swedes 9-8 in a nailbiter, scoring the last two points to win. GB defeated Italy 13-3.
The semi-finals were more one-sided, with Spain winning 12-8 over Switzerland and GB beating Germany 13-6. The Germans have played GB twice, scoring six both times, which is the most anyone has scored against GB thus far. Spain lost 11-9 to Germany in their first game but have won every game since – can they pose GB a problem? GB’s goal difference stands at 65 (91 scored, capping every team so far, and 26 conceded in seven games) so the signs point to no, but as football showed this week anything is possible!
The semi-finals will happen in most divisions tomorrow, and we’ll even have some finals for you! Keep tuned into the live coverage and let us know who you’re supporting!
Feature photo by Robert Engelbrecht.