Christian Prokop’s deep dark circles indicate that the national coach is not getting enough sleep before the German handball players start into the main round of the European Championship.

In the game against Belarus on Thursday (8.30 p.m. / ARD), the fourth in the World Cup is already under maximum pressure – a further defeat after the preliminary round flop against Spain would mean the end of all semifinals.

«The team handles it very well. She only focuses on this challenge and wants to master it, »said Prokop about the duel with the Belarusians. «Now it’s about going perfectly in the right direction. Everyone has to put a shovel on it so that we can get started. We are a big handball nation, and we want to show that. »

Captain Uwe Gensheimer is also confident that the turnaround will succeed. “We have to find our performance against Belarus and show what we are capable of,” said the 33-year-old left-winger.

At the media event in the Wiener Stadthalle and the subsequent training, Prokop was very relaxed. Here a brisk saying for the journalists, there a joke with assistant coach Erik Wudtke. Communication with the players is by no means disturbed.

And yet the poor ideas of his protégés left their mark on the national coach in the preliminary round. The lightness and sovereignty with which Prokop acted on the sidelines last year at the home World Cup has disappeared. During the games, the 41-year-old father appears to be as tense as at his misguided European premiere in 2018, which almost cost him his job after only seven months in office.

Against the Netherlands, he forgot the name of right wing Timo Kastening during a break, against Spain he had no successful game system and against Latvia, many observers missed an emotional wake-up call in the hot final phase. «Of course I can express my frustration by screaming and blame it on everyone who just lost the balls. But that doesn’t work, »Prokop subsequently explained his reluctance.

«Everyone is as authentic as they can be authentic. You can’t turn an analyst like Prokop into a Peter Neururer. He is what he is, »said ex-goalkeeper Andreas Thiel in an interview with the internet portal« »about the character of the national coach. “And what we shouldn’t forget: He did a good job at the World Cup last year.”

But Prokop knows that the merits of days past are quickly forgotten if it doesn’t work. He must find solutions quickly in all parts of the team. “The defense must return to their World Cup level and the goalkeeper must become more stable. To do this, we want to get a faster and more disciplined attack game ”, the coach outlined the tasks and announced the motto for the main round:“ If we improve as a team, we will consistently offer better performance. Then we will get into our flow. »

As usual, he works meticulously on this with the players, with whom Prokop does not notice any cramping despite the previously poor appearances. «The boys create a mix of looseness and concentration. They let go, then they put their heads together again to discuss small details of the improvement over the preliminary round, »he reported.

This also includes the topic of emotionality, which the German team had carried into the World Cup semi-final last year. “We have to push each other even more and celebrate successful campaigns,” Gensheimer said. “We have to pull ourselves up by that.”


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