Norway is not just a rival who has beaten Sweden in three straight championships. It is also a team that can ensure that Sweden gets a tougher road to the summer Olympics in Tokyo.
If the Norwegians, who meet Croatia in tonight's first semi-final, reach all the way to the European gold in the Tele 2 arena, it means that Sweden is forced to travel to Croatia instead of Germany to qualify for the Olympic Games. Not only that - besides tough Croatia, another Balkan team, namely Slovenia, is waiting in the qualifying game.
Slovenia will certainly be one of Sweden's qualifiers as long as the team, under Swedish leadership in the form of Ljubomir Vranjes, does not win the European gold on Sunday. But Sweden is more likely to take on Slovenia (which beat Blågult with 21-19 in the European Championships) with Germany in Berlin, than to be forced to meet the Slovenes in neighboring Croatia. Slovenia will face Spain in the second European Championship semi-final tonight.
Parallel to the European Championship final weekend, the African handball championship is also decided, where it is decided which team will be Sweden's last opponent in the Olympic qualifiers.