A new face brings Spain on top
In a rejuvenated ‘Hispanos’ team five players are at their first-ever major tournament, helping the defending champions transition between generations. And one of those five stands out so far: Agustín Casado. The 25-year-old centre and left back is currently Spain’s best scorer with 24 goals in their five victorious games at the EHF EURO 2022.
He is the director of the Spanish orchestra in attack as well as being important in defence. After Raul Entrerrios ended his highly successful career by winning bronze at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, Casado was brought in to fill his footprints.
And as Joan Cañellas tested positive during the preliminary round, Casado has also had to step up as a shooter for Spain. He scored seven goals each in the close victories against Russia and Bosnia and Herzegovina and five in the main round opener against Germany.
Casado, who is La Rioja’s top scorer in the EHF European League with 48 goals, including 22 in the matches against defending champions Magdeburg, made his national debut in 2021. And he is really happy with his team in Bratislava so far.
“My impression of the Hispanos is very good, we are competing at a high level against great teams and luckily we are on the top position at the moment,” Casado says.
Casado’s confidence was boosted by his performances.
“I don't have any added pressure because at all times I try to be myself as a player, to do what I know best and to try to help the team as much as I can,” he explains. Against Germany, he scored the crucial goals; in the close win against Russia, he took the responsibility in scoring.
“The games against Germany and Russia have been positive for the team and helped us put ourselves in a good position. I am happy because I made good steps in growing with the national team,” Casado says, adding: “In terms of goals and assists, each game is different, there are games in which you can help the team by scoring fewer goals and others the opposite, but I always try to contribute the best I can. I try to help the team to continue in a good dynamic in this championship.”
Besides, Casado is eager to welcome his teammates back on court.
“We are really looking forward when the players who are in isolation will recover - and at the same time we are happy with the arrival of Dani Sarmiento, who is going to help the team a lot,” he says.
On Sunday (20:30 CET, live on EHFTV) Casado hopes to beat another Scandinavian team after the victory against Sweden in the preliminary round: Norway.
He says he has huge respect for Spain’s opponents, reporting: “We do not plan any game to be the favourites, we work in every game in the best way and try to win it. But we know that each opponent in our group is enormously difficult regardless of facing a Scandinavian team or not.”
If the Spaniards win, they would book their sixth straight semi-final ticket and would extend their impressive series to 18 unbeaten matches at EHF EURO final tournaments in a row, but Casado does not pay that much attention to those numbers.
“It's true that we had many wins in a row but it's also true that each game is very complicated. We don't know how long we are going to keep up the winning streak but we are going to try to extend it as long as possible,” he says.
If they succeed, Spain could end up in their fourth straight EHF EURO final and the third time on the winners’ podium in a row. And whatever the result, the top-flight experience will help Casado as he makes his next career move, following former coach Dani Gordo to EHF Champions League participants, Belarusian champions HC Meshkov Brest this summer.