#EMWTC14: Group 4 Preview
Date: 1/21/2014 3:12 PM
Published by : Manuel Røsler

As we slip past the halfway stage of our preview of 2014 European Men’s and Women’s Team Championships we continue the countdown to Basel with residet reporter Mark Phelan taking a look at group 4 in both the men’s and women’s event.

EMTC Group 4 – Finland’s Opportunity to Pressurise Seeded Russians

Russia by right are favourites to top group 4 in the men’s event but if neighbours Finland can click in singles their might be an outside chance of the Finns causing a major upset at the group stages of the event.

Finland’s chances of progressing will clearly rest on which version of the character that is Ville Lang turns up in Basel. If the 12 time circuit winner turns up then there is an opportunity for the rest of team Finland to feed of the immense talent of Lång. Finland have the luxury of having two singles players inside the world’s top 75 and at second singles Eetu Heino will exploit any weakness exposed by Lang at first singles.

Russia will need a fully fit Vladimir Ivanov and Ivan Sozonov (pictured) on site in Basel as both will be required to win points in singles and doubles if Russia are to advance from the group and ultimately medal. With Ivanov ahead of Malkov in the singles world rankings there might be a selection dilemma for the Russian management as you must put your highest ranked player first if both selected which will be tough for Ivanov if also asked to contribute in doubles.

With Dremin and Durkin adding vast experience to the Russian cause the Russian might have the possibility of resting Ivanov in the group stages doubles before unleashing the 2m giant in the knockout stages.

In a group of two halves Israel and Italy will prop up the table with a flick of a coin deciding who has bragging rights come the end of the group stage.

Verdict: Russia to justify their seeding by taking the group. Depending on the mind-set of Ville Lång, Finland have the opportunity to pressurise the Russians but also have the ability to collapse completely and finish last in the group. Italy and Israel to battle it out for the minor placing’s.

Click here for the full draw of men's group 4

EWTC Group 4 – Strength in Depth to see Russians Advance

Group 4 in the women’s event has an interesting dynamic with Russia coupled with Scotland, Belgium and hosts Switzerland.

The Scots will be chomping at the bit and are sure to be confident with Cooper, Gilmour and Bankier leading the charge but can three top quality players take them through? I think not is the realistic answer to that question.

The facts are there before our eyes. Russian have no less than 7 singles players inside the world’s top 125 and no matter what Kirsty Gilmour (pictured below) does at first singles it is difficult to see where Scotland can pick up a second point in singles to give Banker and Gilmour a chance in doubles. Add into the mix Russia have the joker in the pack in the shape of Ella Diehl who logically can slip in at third singles it is feasible that Russia will need just one point from two doubles to beat the Scots.

Russia will once again be able to call on a plethora of experienced doubles players to collect that point and have the tactical ability to put them out in any order given that Olympic bronze medallist Nina Vislova has partners Chervaykova and Bibik in the past and Russia pair of Khlebko/Polikarpova are one of the most under rated pairs in Europe.

Belgium like Scotland will suffer from true lack of depth and all at one step of the ladder below Scotland. Hosts Switzerland almost medalled in Amsterdam two years ago where they almost took down The Netherlands. However Nicole Schaller is no longer in the National centre and Jeanine Cicognini has also since retired. The Swiss will have a chance to take the fight to the rest if Schaller is selected to accompany Sabrina Jaquet and Ayla Huser and home court advantage is sure to be worth a handful of points in every game.

Verdict: Strength in depth and flexibility of team selection will see Russia comfortably advance even with Scotland nipping at their heels. Swiss could possibly cause a home upset and take second spot as the Scots will have to rely heavily on a small contingent of world class players. Belgium will take games and points and if Lianne Tan can give the team impetus there is a chance Belgium can sneak an odd 3-2 group win.

Click here for the full draw of women's group 4.

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, Group 2 and Group 3.

You can grab your #EMWTC14 tickets here.

Article by Mark Phelan for Badminton Europe. Photos by BadmintonPhoto.

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