World Championship Power rankings: France at the top ahead of the quarter-finals

The Preliminary round and Main round is history. Bring on the quarter-finals! Ola Selby of GoHandball ranks the 8 teams ahead of the quarter-finals.

Power rankings are our ranking of which of the teams have been the hottest so far. A team that has lost one game can be considered a better team than a team that has gone undefeated. It’s all about the quality of the teams.

Here is Power rankings – Ola Selbys ranking of the quarter-final teams.

1: France

Ranking before the World Championship: Bronze.

Chloe Valentini of France. Photo: Mathilda Ahlberg / BILDBYRÅN

Unsurprisingly France did not get a great start to the World Championship. Sure, they got the 2 points against Angola in their opener, but they could have lost that game. They followed that up by playing a bit better and defeating Iceland and Slovenia, but it was nowhere near France when they were at their best.

But what about the Main round? There France got better and better. Big wins against Austria and South Korea before the huge game against host nation Norway. And even though Norway had the home support and France had som bad luck with referee decisions the French team got the 2 points.

That if anything was a statement ahead of the the quarter-finals. France has arrived and right now there are no real weaknesses in the team. It’s actually the other way around – players like Grace Zaadi and Laura Glauser have a lot more to give.

2: Norway

Ranking before the World Championship: Silver.

Henny Reistad. Photo: Jesper Zerman / BILDBYRÅN

Mangled all opposition in the Preliminary round and started the Main round in the same fashion. But maybe it was the easy trip until then that caused problems for Norway then they phased France in the last game in the Main round. In that game, Norway was not the best team (they still were great, though) all game long.

But why do I then rank Norway as the second-best team and not lower? I do that because France is a great team and Norway still competed in that game, a game that they might as well could have won. There is so much quality in this team and that’s why it still seems reasonable to rank them as the second-best team ahead of the quarter-finals.

In the quarter-finals, the Netherlands could prove to be a real nightmare for Norway. But we will just have to wait and see.

3: Sweden

Ranking before the World Championship: 4.

Players of Sweden celebrate after the IHF Women’s World Championship handball match between Sweden and Cameroon. Photo: Mathias Bergeld / BILDBYRÅN

Sweden is the team, as is Denmark, that has been proven the least so far during the World Championship. Sure, Montenegro is a tough team that can beat anyone when they play at their best, but it was still an injury-filled team that Sweden defeated quite comfortably in the end.

On the other hand, Sweden has played great in every game so far and only gotten better during the World Championship, not only as a team but at an individual level as well.

Johanna Bundsen has been nothing short of amazing from day 1 and has only kept going. Players like Jamina Roberts and Jenny Carlson are playing better each game and that’s why I am placing Sweden at the 3rd spot.

4: Denmark

Ranking before the World Championship: Gold.

Emma Friis of Denmark. Photo: Jesper Zerman / BILDBYRÅN

The loss against Japan affected Denmark’s ranking before the quarter-finals. In that game, Denmark did not play great at all and Denmark has not been that impressive so far during the World Championship. But on the other hand, they have won every game except the one against Japan and that is impressive.

There is a lot more to get out of this team. And I don’t believe that the loss against Japan was that bad for Denmark. They finished first in the Main Round after all and they got a wake-up call against Japan. And remember, in the Euros one year ago Denmark lost against Slovenia in the Preliminary round and after that, they played amazing.

Denmark could very well destroy Montenegro in the quarter-finals but based on their performances so far during the World Championship, I leaned more against ranking Denmark 5th than I did ranking them 3rd.

5: Netherlands

Ranking before the World Championship: Out in the quarter-finals.

Dione Housheer of Netherlands. Photo: Ludvig Thunman / BILDBYRÅN

Per Johanssons team deserves a higher ranking than this. They have played great in each and every game and won convincingly against teams like Brazil and Spain.

Then why do I place the Netherlands as the 5th best team ahead of the quarter-finals? It’s based on my thoughts on the teams I placed before them. My sense is that the four top teams are a bit ahead of the Netherlands, even though Johanssons side has tighten the gap since the Euros a year ago.

And if Dione Housheer can continue to play like this Netherlands can do the impossible and defeat Norway tonight.

6: Germany

Ranking before the World Championship: Out in the quarter-finals.

Emily Bölk of Germany. Photo: Petter Arvidson / BILDBYRÅN

Germany has performed great so far during the World Championship and this is a better German team than we have seen for quite some time. They showed in the friendlies against Sweden before the WC that they are to be counted on more than before.

Emily Bölk is playing like a real star and around her there are plenty of great players as well. Germany threatened Denmark last night but couldn’t keep up when the game was at the line.

And that is my opinion on this German team. It’s a great team and they have gotten closer to the top 5 teams, but they are not quite there yet. To earn that respect they need to do more than people have thought they could, for example defeating Sweden in the quarter-finals.

7: Montenegro

Ranking before the World Championship: Out in the quarter-finals.

Head coach Bojana Popovic of Montenegro. Photo: Mathias Bergeld / BILDBYRÅN

Montenegro is not what Montenegro has been. Or are they? They are still the team that plays with the most heart and passion. But if we look purely at the quality of the players it’s a given that they miss Jovanka Radicevic and Durdina Jaukovic. And how could they not?

The fact that Montenegro is in the quarter-finals tells me that they are well-coached and that the qualities that I mentioned before are real. If not Hungary or Croatia might as well could have been the team that joined Sweden in the quarter-finals.

It would not surprise me if Montenegro would make it difficult for Denmark in the quarter-final. But no one could say anything else than that Montenegro has gotten all they could out of the players in this year’s squad.

8: Czech Republic

Ranking before the World Championship: Out in the Main round.

Marketa Jerabkova of the Czech Republic. Photo: Suvad Mrkonjic / BILDBYRÅN

I never thought that the Czech Republic would be in the quarter-finals. I had a higher belief in both Spain and Brazil. But the Czech Republic, with world-class Marketa Jerabkova in the team, has improved and impressed so far and their spot amongst the top 8 teams is well deserved.

They defeated Spain in great fashion and with that win, they ultimately made their way to the quarter-finals. A huge success for Czech handball.

But it ends here for Jerabkova and her team. The Czech Republic will not stand a chance against France. But no matter what this has been a great World Championship for the Czech Republic and something to build on for coming championships.