Vor an off-road vehicle parked at the Wiener Stadthalle, which advertised the website “Krisensurvival.at”. Behind it is a coaching offer for tricky life situations of all kinds – the logo showed forest, ax and shovel. It is not that dramatic for the German national handball team, but it is a way out of a difficult sporting situation and the exposure of spilled skills for Christian Prokop and his players, who are inside for the first main round game of the European Championship this Thursday ( 8.30 p.m. in the FAZ live ticker for the European Handball Championship and in the ARD) against Belarus.
Even if the national coach rejected the word “restart” on Wednesday and preferred to speak of “development”, of the hoped for “momentum” and “flow”: The move from gloomy Trondheim to Vienna, which is livable and lovable even at temperatures around zero also bring climate change around the team. At 8.30 p.m. the main round against Belarus, Croatia (Saturday), Austria (Monday) and the Czech Republic (Wednesday) is about the originally targeted, but recently out of focus, entry into the semi-finals. In all likelihood, only four victories will help the Germans to reach the semi-finals, perhaps not even that.
The game against the Belarusians led by the former Bundesliga champions’ coach Juri Schewzow is therefore a first endgame, and not only when looking at the table. For Prokop and his team it is about finding a handball access to the tournament – and also the necessary mental state. Does the team still manage to “pull themselves up”, as Prokop said, to a higher level? Or does it end silently and soundlessly before it really started? After the last impressions of Trondheim, there are certainly reasons to fear the second scenario. But the coach and the team are doing what they can to spread confidence. “We all know that we can do more,” said Uwe Gensheimer on Wednesday, “that’s why belief is there. We haven’t forgotten how to play handball. ”In the captain’s words, the extra daylight in Vienna only played a subordinate role.
But the German team needs enlightenment. But: where should it come from? Gensheimer said that “we all have to throw more”, more emotionality, more footwork in the cover, more aggressiveness. “Going the extra mile” – the national coach also demanded this, especially in defense, to return to the level of the home World Cup last year and to strengthen the goalkeepers. “This is the basis for our success.” Prokop’s second point: a “faster, more disciplined attack game”. This is where Julius Kühn could come into play. Bold, 1.98 meters tall and a massive guy, carries the label “man for the light goals”. Every team likes someone like that, not only because they contribute something that can be counted, but also because it takes pressure off the others if they know that if we get caught up in the combination game, there will be someone who unties the knot, with force, will or even violence.