European Ultimate Championships 2019: Day One Recap (Men’s)

Lots of hot action in Györ in the Men's division on Day 1!

Germany with a layout grab in the match against Italy. Photo by John Kofi

Day one of the European Championships went [mostly] according to plan. The men’s division didn’t see any real upsets, but there was plenty of action to go around.

France and Switzerland Play Tight

The second round of games on Sunday saw France go up against Switzerland in one of the day’s most exciting games. The game took place on field five, which guaranteed that every point would be upwind-downwind, and the game play definitely reflected that fact. Each team struggled to cope with the wind early in the game, overthrowing their receivers, failing to complete short passes, and dropping easy throws. France came out on top 15-12.

France imposed themselves immediately by walking the disc down the field patiently and punching it in, despite heavy Swiss pressure on under cuts. They followed that up with a break on their first defensive point before the Swiss themselves scored a confident offensive point and then capitalized on a French mistake to break for 2-2. The teams looked well-matched until France led 5-4, at which point they went on a three-goal run to take half. In the middle of the half, the Swiss offense just seemed unable to complete simple passes, and they made some careless mistakes, which the French defense capitalized well on.

The start of the second half started like the first. Both teams were trading points, but also giving their opponents opportunities, and we may have even seen the play of the tournament on day one! Switzerland launched the disc towards the endzone, where David Odermatt was streaking. As the disc was floating out the side of the endzone, Odermatt dove to catch it and, because he knew that he didn’t have many options close to him, threw a greatest fully thirty meters back down the field into a crowd. Casper Müller got up highest and reeled it in. After that, it looked like the team had true belief.  The Swiss clawed their way back a bit, but then at 10-8 to France, we saw four points in a row of very good offense from both teams to make it 12-10. It looked as if the offensive lines had dialed in their hucks. Eventually the Swiss defense started to impose themselves again, but France rode their luck with some huge layouts to deny their opponents the chance to get back in the game.

After the game, French coach Sébastian Labbé thought the deciding factor was his team’s ability to deal with the wind better than their opponents. He mentioned that both teams struggled quite a bit at times, but that the Swiss simply struggled a bit more, and the French were able to better capitalize on their opportunities. Swiss player, Severin Ris, agreed about the wind, saying his team was not as ready as they should have been in the first half. However, on a more optimistic note, he did think the team’s defense was very tight, and that the French managed to get away with some very high stall count throws, and some big athletic plays. On another day, those might have gone another way.

The Swiss did rebound later in the day, beating Finland 15-10 in a dominant performance. The Finns were clever with their throws and movement, but the Swiss were ultimately too athletic, and simply overwhelmed them. Robin Brüderlin had an especially dominant performance as a deep cutter.

Germany puts Italy to the sword

The most anticipated game of the day saw Germany take down Italy 15-10, in what was probably also a pool-deciding match. Italy started with a very patient offensive point, followed by a quick break, but Germany were able to settle down and play efficient offense for most of the game. The game went back and forth for most of the first half. The Germans played patiently through the Italian poaching/zone, and the Italians moved the disc quickly and intuitively. At times, it was like Germany was throwing the disc without being certain a receiver would be in position, but there was always a receiver ready for it. However, at 7-6 to Germany, they sent out an all-star defensive line, and the Italians weren’t able to do anything. The Germans converted on the turn, and took half. Nico Müller was absolutely running the show.

Germany came out of half on offense, and they went on a run, taking the score to 11-6 before the Italians were able to steady themselves. The Italians brought the score a bit closer, getting two breaks in the second half, and bringing themselves within two points, but the Germans were ultimately just too strong for them. With a performance like that so early, they will be confident that they can go very deep into this tournament.

Germany also beat Russia 15-8 earlier in the day, and remain strong favorites in Pool MA.

Israel turning heads

Israel started the day by taking Austria to double game point in their first game. Their relative inexperience may have shown just a bit, and the Austrians were able to score to win. However, Israel did manage to win their second game against the Netherlands 15-13. Expectations were low coming into the tournament, but Israel have already shown that they deserve to be taken seriously in the very tough Pool MB.

Israel’s coach, Noam Elyashar, ended the day a happy man. He praised his team’s play and the spirit they showed, but was also a little disappointed by his team’s inability to finish the job against Austria. He put it down to inexperience in pressure situations. After all, it is the team’s first time at a serious tournament. Coach Elyashar is looking at the long term. He sees the value in such close games now, and hopes the experience can propel Israel to new heights in a few years, if not the rest of this week. Their game against the Czech Republic will surely be interesting, as the Czechs only managed to beat the Netherlands 14-12.

What to look for on Day 2

Denmark and Belgium go head to head in the morning. The result could decide who makes it to the power pool.1 Austria and the Czech Republic play in the second round of games in what may also be a game to go to the power pools as Great Britain are likely to take the top spot. Latvia and Russia play in the last round. It likely won’t have any effect on who goes to the power pool as Italy and Germany are favorites to advance, but it might play a role in who makes it to the bracket since both teams will likely carry that game into the lower pool where they will need to place in the top two in order to progress to the pre-quarter round.

  1. The top two finishers in each pool make power pools 

  1. Ned Garvey
    Ned Garvey

    Ned Garvey is a member of the European staff. He lives in Riga, Latvia, where he works for Meduza Project. You can find him on Twitter @subwayicon



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