Two-time champions Spain will come up against the Czech Republic, Sweden and Bosnia Herzegovina in Group E ©Getty Images

Head coach Jordi Ribera is refusing to look beyond the group stages as Spain eye a third straight title at this year’s European Men’s Handball Championship.

Spain triumphed in both 2018 and 2020 and will be among the favourites to claim gold at this year’s tournament, jointly hosted by Hungary and Slovakia.

Ribera’s men are set to launch their defence tomorrow when they meet the Czech Republic at the Ondrej Nepela Arena in Slovakian capital Bratislava.

They are also due to meet four-time winners Sweden and Bosnia Herzegovina in Group E.

"We should not talk about defending the title when the tournament has not even started, especially in times like we face currently," said Ribera.

Speaking to EFE Agency, Ribera said the objective was to reach the semi-finals.

"I think we have to go day by day, as we did in the 2018 European Championship and the 2020 European Championship, competing each game to the fullest, for us each game has to be a challenge," said Ribera.

"The aspiration to score is to reach the semi-finals, but for that you have to go step by step and at the moment the first objective is to go to the second phase.

"You have to think that in the last European Championship France and Denmark were left out of the second phase, which indicates how difficult a European is, so the important thing is to set short-term objectives, because that is what will give you results later."

As well as Spain’s clash with Czech Republic, Sweden are due to meet Bosnia Herzegovina in Bratislava tomorrow.

There are 24 teams taking part in the tournament, scheduled to run from tomorrow until January 30.

The top two in each of the six preliminary-round groups will advance to the main round where 12 teams will be split into two groups which will decide the line-up for the two semi-finals.

Matches will be held in the Hungarian cities of Budapest, Debrecen and Szeged as well as Bratislava and Kosice in Slovakia.

There will be no limit on the number of spectators for venues in Hungary with the new Budapest Arena set to permit more than 20,000 fans for the host nation’s opening match against The Netherlands tomorrow.

But the European Handball Federation (EHF) has announced that the capacity in Slovakia will be capped at 25 per cent due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Fans looking to attend matches in Bratislava and Kosice must be either vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 within the past 180 days, according to the EHF.