Europe’s best head to Ramenskoe
Date: 2/8/2013 8:58 PM
Published by : Manuel Røsler

After a year travelling the European and Global tours in an individual capacity the cream of European talent heads to Ramenskoe, Moscow with national pride coursing through their veins for the 2013 European Mixed Team Championships.

The opportunity to represent your country is a rare occurrence in badminton which serves to make these team championships all the more unique as it draws together the stars of the sport in what is sure to be an exciting feast of team badminton in the five match shootout in each of the five disciplines.

Denmark are as expected favourites to lift the title and as individuals the Danish stars are a formidable global force and it is hard to even contemplate the great Scandinavian badminton nation returning to Copenhagen with anything less than victory. The Danes could not have asked for a more comfortable start in a group containing Norway and Turkey, and are sure to take the opportunity to rest their top players for these group stages as has become customary over the past decade.

Come the weekend quarter and semi-finals the Danes will no doubt fly in heavy hitters such as Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen in what is sure to have a physiological impact on any quarter final opponent as they up the ante at the business end of the tournament. Denmark as always are uber confident as they are entitled to be ahead of these championships but will the risk leaving Tine Baun and Jan Ø. Jørgensen at home, as they concentrate on their All England preparations, come back to haunt them? Only time will tell.

Even without the presence of these two household names Team Denmark is top heavy with stars and talent as Axelsen and Vittinghus take up the men’s singles responsibilities supported by Boe, Bonde, Conrad, Mogensen and the ever young Joachim Fischer. From a female perspective having Christinna Pedersen and Kamilla Rytter Juhl on your side gives Denmark the advantage over any other European opposition but if there is a Danish weakness it may be at women’s singles as they blood new young talent and heap a large proportion of pressure on the shoulders of Line Kjaersfeldt and Natallia Koch Rhode.

Who will pose the greatest threat to the Danish dominance? In reality that threat will most likely come from one of a handful of other nations namely Germany, Russia and England.

The Russians will be a formidable force on their home soil and will look to Olympic Bronze medallists Vislova and Sorokina to lead their challenge. Let’s not forget the threat the Russians pose in men’s doubles in the shape of Sozonov and Ivanov with the 2m tall Vladimir Ivanov also proving his worth as a top singles player in recent months. Home advantage is sure to be key at pivotal points throughout the tournament and the Russians will be keen to impress on home soil.

Last week’s Russian nationals saw the long awaited return of Russian veteran Ella Diehl to competition and the 34 year old comfortably won yet another national singles title. Diehl, if picked, might hold the key to Russia’s success as she is without doubt world class and a match for any of the Danish singles players nominated.

Team Germany has strength throughout and coupled with this strength is a vast pool of experience. In terms of singles play the Germans will look to Marc Zwiebler and Juliane Schenk to deliver cast iron points but a lot will depend on the condition of Schenk after she flies home from a gruelling Indonesian league schedule after forgoing her National Championships last week. Backed up by seasoned professionals such as Kindervater, Schöttler, Michels and Konon, the Germans are sure to be full of confidence heading to Russia. Let’s not forget it was the German ladies who took their Danish counterparts at the women’s team Championship in Amsterdam last year and on paper they look to be a match for the Danes in almost every department.

Team England enter these championships as an outside bet. Players such as Chris Adcock, Gabby White and the unsung hero of the team Marcus Ellis will lead the line. However recent injuries to Andy Ellis will certainly have an effect on the Leeds lads sharpness and an Achilles problem for Sarah Milne, sustained at last week’s nationals, will further water down them England’s strength in depth. Jenny Wallwork is only recently back from injury but one things is for sure and if there was a prize for team spirit the English would come out on top every time so these minor setbacks might only serve to spur England onto greater things next week.

Of the eight groups in this year’s tournament its groups six, seven and eight that smell of potential upsets. The French head up group 6 but will not have it all their own way if Ireland, Finland and Israel have a say in the outcome.

Sweden are seeded top of group seven but with Belgium and the Ukrainian young guns biting at their heels don’t be surprised to see the Swedes struggle with a lack of strength in depth.

Finally in group 8 team Scotland should come through with Kirsty Gilmour and Imogen Bankier leading the lines but the forced withdrawal of Kieran Merillees through injury and the ineligibility of Robert Blair means Scotland are sure to face a few last match group jitters which will undoubtedly see some tactical team line ups coming into effect.

All the action kicks off in Ramenskoe on Tuesday at 10am local time with matches from groups 4, 5 and 6. Badminton Europe TV will be live for the duration of the tournament with all the action from the streaming court and post-match interviews.

Log on to BETV by clicking HERE and register and watch for free.

Follow Badminton Europe on Twitter for all the latest tournament gossip @EuropeBEC with hashtag #EMTC13

As always follow Badminton Europe on Facebook for live photo gallery by clicking HERE

For complete tournament draw and schedule click HERE

Article by Mark Phelan. Images courtesy of Badminton Photo.

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