Can the Stoeva sisters power Bulgaria through to Copenhagen? (Badminton Europe)
Group 7: Siblings battle to top six in Sofia
Date: 12/5/2018 5:34 PM
Published by : Alan Raftery
The seventh and final qualification group for the European Mixed Team Championship 2019 is a special one. There will be six countries arriving in Sofia, Bulgaria, all hoping to clinch that final ticket to Copenhagen.

The six countries will be split into two groups of three. Matches will commence tomorrow 6 December with group matches through until Saturday 8 December. The winner of each group will play a deciding match on Sunday 9 December, establishing who will qualify for the finals in February. Here are the groups:

Subgroup 1: 

Subgroup 2: 

Subgroup 1 not straightforward
Hosts Bulgaria are favourites to come out of the group and ultimately qualify for Copenhagen via group 7. However, it may not all be plain sailing, as their toughest match may come on day one, when they face Ireland. Bulgaria have the fantastic strength in the Stoeva sisters (European Rank: 1) in the Women’s Doubles and are also able to place either Stefani or Gabriela into the Mixed Doubles pairing. 

However, Ireland who have their own sibling partnerships up their sleeve, may have Sam and Chloe Magee in the Mixed Doubles (European Rank: 12) to counter this Bulgarian tactic. In addition, the small pool of Irish players (7) may look to target other areas to pick-up wins, such as Men’s Singles where they have the rising star of Nhat Nguyen (European Rank: 45) who is likely to have a tough battle with Ivan Rusev (European Rank: 52). And similarly in the Men’s Doubles, with Welsh International semi-finalists Sam Magee and Paul Reynolds (European Rank: 20) potentially edging out the various Bulgarian Men’s Doubles combinations who are slightly lower in the rankings.
With Linda Zetchiri (European Rank: 9) looking solid in the Women’s Singles, everything points to a 3-2 result, but which way will it go? 

More family strength in Subgroup 2
Yet another tight group to call with Israel perhaps having the edge over both Latvia and Norway. Much like Bulgaria and Ireland, this is mostly down to the family strength of mother and son combination, Svetlana and Misha Zilberman, who often partner together for Mixed Doubles (European Rank: 36). Misha, who ordinarily plays Men’s Singles (European Rank: 10) can also add value by partnering either Shai Geffen or Alexander Bass, who are European top 100 ranked Men’s Doubles players.

Israel will certainly miss not having Ksenia Polikarpova in the Women’s Singles (European Rank: 12), but it may be their versatility in the team, particularly with Misha, which can pull them through to the deciding match on Sunday. 

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