#EMWTC14: Group 1 Preview
Date: 1/6/2014 11:53 AM
Published by : Manuel Røsler

It’s that time of year again when Europe’s best players, who normally apply their trade in an individual capacity, come together to represent their respective countries with the combined goal of lifting a European Team medal.

The biennial  European Men’s and Women’s Team Championships take place in Basel, Switzerland from the 11-16 February and for the first time will be staged alongside the newly inaugurated 2014 European U15 Championships. The fantastic St. Jakobshalle, the home of the Swiss Open, will host the event with the goal of crowing the best male and female teams in Europe come Sunday evening 16th February.

Over the coming weeks we will take a look at each of the groups and examine the prospects of the holders Denmark and Germany retaining their titles from Amsterdam in 2012 as well as identifying any potential upsets while evaluating the credentials of many of the outsiders for the top step of the podium.

EMTC Group 1 – Denmark odds on to continue unbeaten run

Since its inception in 2006 the European men’s team championship has been dominated by Denmark. World class players such as Peter Gade, Jonas Rasmussen and Kenneth Jonassen have all played their part in past Danish dominance and there is nothing to suggest the Danes have much to fear come week 7 in Basel.

In a format that leans towards singles supremacy Denmark will have the luxury of coasting through their group playing and effective ‘B’ team before rolling out the big hitters come the knockout stages.

Strength in depth is key to Denmark’s dominance and with three singles players, Jan Ø. Jørgensen (main picture), Vittinghus and Viktor Axelsen, inside the world’s top 25 and a host of doubles pairings to call on to back up Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen, Denmark have little to worry about in retaining their title.

Group 1 will be a battle for the minor placing’s even with the Danes keeping their heavy hitters for the business end of the tournament. The Czech Republic will be heavily reliant on Petr Koukal and will struggle due to a lack of depth in their squad.

What makes the group interesting is the fight for bragging rights between Czech Republic and neighbours Slovakia. Realistically both might be battling it out to avoid a group 1 wooden spoon as Ireland look a more balanced side with the emergence of Jonathan Dolan at the back end of 2013.

The youngster had a run to the quarter finals of the World Juniors as well as a significant victory over Koukal at the Dutch open. The Sligo man is sure to take some of the heat of Scott Evans as top singles and his men’s doubles partnership with Sam Magee is showing signs of potential.

Verdict: Denmark to win in first gear with Ireland a credible second. The friendly rivalry between Czech Republic and Slovakia will be nothing more than a bragging rights battle but one that will sure have a fair measure of tension.

Check the full men's group 1 including the schedule

EWTC Group 1 – Two years of hurt set to motivate Danish girls

Few will forget the women’s final between Denmark and Germany two years ago in Amsterdam as Juliane Schenk led the German rout over a Tine Baun led Danish side. This time around the Danes are once again installed as favourites but will be without the Great Dane who retired last year.

That defeat for the Danes cemented the shift of power from Denmark to Germany in team events which is sure to still eat away at seasoned professionals such and Pedersen and Juhl who will be keen to redress the balance of power in Basel.

One thing is for sure the Danish girls will not have the luxury of their male compatriots by fielding a second string team in the group stages. The Danish men have any one of 6 singles players to call on to do a job whereas the girls do not have that luxury. With Røpke and Kruse supporting Juhl and Pedersen in doubles the Danes will still need a singles point to get the job done in the groups which will put immense pressure on the younger shoulders of Kjærsfeldt, Koch Rhode, Madsen and Jensen.

As in the men’s the Czech Republic have been drawn in group 1 alongside Denmark. Kristina Gavnholt (picture) will look to her experience to try and get the Czechs off to a winning start and the truth is the Danish based Czech number 1 has the game and mental strength to take any first singles match in the group.

But in a similar vein to the men’s top group the Czech’s, Turks and Hungarians are sure to be battling it out for the minor placings. Turkey look to have youthful exuberance and no shortage of talent on their side with Yigit, Bayrak and Fere leading the challenge and will target wins over Czech Republic and Hungary as being a realistic goal for the group.

Verdict: Denmark to relay on their world class doubles to seal the group win for the top seeds with Turkey to come out on top for the battle for second place. Czech Republic should have enough in the tank to see off Hungary but will rely heavily on Gavnholt taking the first singles match.

Check the full women's group 1 including the schedule

Stayed tuned over the coming weeks for our shakedown of the remaining groups and our predictions for the gold, silver and bronze medals at this year’s 2014 European Men’s and Women’s Team Championships.

Grab your #EMWTC14 tickets here.

Article by Mark Phelan for Badminton Europe.

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