- What: 2021 IHF World Women’s Handball Championship
- When: Thursday, December 2nd to Sunday, December 19th, 2021
- Where: Spain.The tournament is being played in the following venues: Llíria, Torrevieja, Castelló and Granollers as the final four venue.
In December, countries from around the world will meet in Spain to determine who is the world champion of women’s handball. The 2021 IHF World Women’s Handball Championship will start at the beginning of the month and conclude on the 19th. After winning for the first time ever in 2019, the Netherlands are the defending world champions, but have stiff competition from their European counterparts. Our picks below will go over who are the favorites and who we think will take home the title in December.
Norway opens as the historical favorite (+190)
After finishing in fourth place at the 2019 World Championship, the Norwegians have opened as the favorite to take home their fourth overall world championship. Norway has a long history of handball success and was most recently crowned as the European Champions back in 2020. In fact, they are the most successful team in the history of the European Championships, having won eight golds, three silvers, and one bronze out of the fourteen tournaments they have participated in. In terms of the World Championship competition,
Norway has had some solid success as well, with their most recent gold medal coming back in 2015 (they won silver in 2017). They are also two-time Olympic Gold medalists (2008 and 2012) and won bronze in 2016 and 2020.
Their current squad has a number of elite athletes that have been staples for the Norwegians over the years. Left wing Camilla Herrem leads the way for the team with 274 appearances and 763 goals. Herrem is a veteran of the last three Olympic teams (since 2012 in London) and was selected for the World Handball 2010’s All-Decade Team at the left wing position by handball-planet.com vote. Also holding down a pivotal part of the Norwegian offense is right back Nora Mørk who has 696 goals in 141 appearances. Mørk is a four-time European Championship winner and helped the team to a World Championship in 2015.
— Harald Bredeli (@TV2Bredeli) May 6, 2020
Russia looks to add to World Championship tally (+300)
With a third place finish in 2019, the Russian national team is aiming for its fifth world title in 2021. The squad has been another historical favorite as they are the only handball team on the women’s or men’s side of the sport, to have won the World Championship three consecutive times (2005, 2007, and 2009). The squad is also coming off of a silver medal performance at the 2020 Summer Olympics and are led by a strong squad with many players still in their primes. Left wing, Polina Kuznetsova, leads the way for the Russians at 163 appearances and 428 career goals. Kuznetsova has been part two World Championship teams for Russia and also won a gold medal at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. Her leadership will be paramount if the Russians are to make a deep run at this year’s tournament.
Other teams to keep an eye on
France (+400) and the defending champion Netherlands (+600) trail behind Norway and Russia but have some legitimate claims to the crown. Starting with France, their recent track record at the World Championships is somewhat hit or miss (a gold medal in 2017 and 13th overall in 2019), but they are coming off of a gold medal performance at the 2020 Tokyo Games. The French have also had some more recent success at the European Championships with a gold medal finish in 2018 and a silver medal in 2020.
Finally, the Netherlands, who won their first gold medal at the World Championships in 2019, are slated as the fourth favorite heading into the tournament. Led by left back Lois Abbingh (782 goals in 172 appearances), the Dutch also have a younger core in the prime of their careers. Abbingh and many of her team members were key contributors from the 2019 tournament so their experience will be invaluable when they have to match up again with the favorites, Norway and Russia.
Prediction: Though the field is pretty stacked at the top end, Norway has a great chance to return to glory. Coming off of a 2020 European Championship win, the majority of their team return in what could be the send-off tournament for Herrem. Plus the team will have some extra motivation after being shut out from the medal podium in the 2019 tournament in Japan. The Norwegians will have a great opportunity to defend their title too as “the finest women’s national handball team ever.”
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