#EMWTC14: Group 3 Preview
Date: 1/9/2014 3:14 PM
Published by : Manuel Røsler

As the 2014 European Men’s and Women’s Team Championships draws ever closer our resident reporter Mark Phelan continues the countdown to Basel with a look at group 3 in both the men’s and women’s event.

EMTC Group 3 – Badmintons Battle of Britain

There was a collective pan European sigh when the live draw pitted third seeds England against close neighbours Scotland and much of the focus in group 3 will be on the English and in particular their singles as they attempt to justify their seeding for the tournament.

There is no doubt that the English doubles have the power to make even the great Danes work hard later in the competition and Andy Ellis and Chris Adcock (pictured) have become one of the partnerships most feared not only in Europe but in global badminton. Backing up the world number 13 pair will most likely be the now established pair of Chris Coles and Matthew Nottingham who have improved immensely since their 2011 European junior gold medal victory and let’s not forget that Chris Langridge and Peter Mills will feature heavily on England’s assault on a medal.

Rajiv Ouseph will once again shoulder the majority of the singles pressure with a gaping void between him and the rest which Scottish and Belgian opposition will look to expose. The Scots will look to Kieran Merrilees, the training partner of Ouseph in Milton Keynes, to give them a dream start and if they can do this there is an outside chance that Van Rietvelde & Blair and Campbell and Machugh can ride that momentum to break the English.

Belgium led by Yuhan Tan will be quiet happy to fly under the radar of the England V Scotland rivalry. Like Merrilees, Tan will have to break Ouseph at first singles for Belgium to have a chance of causing an upset and even then the English are sure to be too strong for the Belgian doubles pair of Dierickx and Golinski.

Iceland will make up the numbers in the group and will struggle to get any traction from any of their three group encounters.

Verdict: Ouseph to lead from the front for England safe in the knowledge there is an unlimited pool of doubles talent to back him up. Lack of strength in depth will force Scotland and Belgium to battle it out for second in the group with the Scots getting the nod. Iceland to prop up the group with a realistic goal of winning the odd match against Scotland or Belgium enough to warrant a decent tournament for the European minnows.

Check the full men's group 3 schedule by clicking here.

EWTC Group 3 – Bulgarian Favourites in Group of Death

From the outset Bulgaria have been touted as real contenders for gold in the women’s event in Basel. When you look at the players at their disposal they have strength from first singles right down to second doubles. As I write this article Linda Zetchiri is Bulgaria’s highest ranked singles play just a solitary spot ahead of the great Petya Nedelcheva in the world rankings. Couple this pair with 2013 European Junior Champion Stefani Stoeva (pictured) and Bulgaria have the strongest singles line up in the competiton. The Stoeva sisters have the beating of most European pairs and who would bet against a Nedelcheva/Popstoikova partnership taking any match at second doubles if needed.

What is clear is that Bulgaria will have to get out of the blocks quick as having both France and The Netherlands is the group is a real recipe for fireworks. The French will have a young side in Basel but will be bolstered by the inclusion of both Sashina and Tehana Vignes Waran in their squad alongside emerging talents like Lansac, Guerin and the exquisite talent of Anne Tran. Like Bulgaria France have strength in depth as Fontaine and Lefel have also been performing well on the circuit this season. The Dutch come into the event as bronze medallists from Amsterdam two years ago but a lot of water has flown under the Dutch bridge in those two years.

Singles will be an issue for the Dutch for sure that’s unless Judith Meulendjiks decides to dust off the racket bag for one last hurrah. The Dutch veteran has been performing well in the German Bundesliga this season.  At 108 in the world Soraya De Visch Eijbergen is the highest ranked Dutch singles player but with some of their younger players on board all they will need is one singles victory to take the match to a cast iron women’s doubles win at the hands of the best pair in Europe this season Muskens and Piek. If that was the case then a fit again Samantha Barning and Irish Tabeling have the game to edge the Dutch through with a pair 3-2 victories. Another ace up the sleeve of the Dutch is that Eefje Muskens can play a mean singles if called upon.

Ireland will bring up the rear in this fiercly competive group. Chloe Magee will take some points at singles for sure but it is sure to be a frustrating couple of days for the Irish girls.

Verdict: Bulgaria should on paper win this group but if politics get in the way they could also finish third. It’s a fine balancing act down Bulgaria way but a fit Nedelcheva and with the stars aligned correctly sees Bulgaria with a real chance to create some European badminton history.

Both France and The Netherlands will be looking to capitalise on any Bulgarian misfortune and do not be surprised if any one of three advance to the knockout stages as it really is that tight. Ireland, lacking strength in depth, will suffer at the hands of all three and can count themselves very unlucky to get drawn in such a competitive group.

Check the full women's group 3 by clicking here.

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 European Men’s and Women’s team Championships.

Here you can read the previews for Group 1 and Group 2.

You can grab your #EMWTC14 tickets here.

Article by Mark Phelan for Badminton Europe.

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