“Shock”, “fiasco”, “lowest point in Danish handball history”: The historic failure of the world champion and Olympic champion triggered a small state crisis in handball-crazy Denmark. A knockout in the preliminary round of an EM – that had never been seen before in the Scandinavians who were spoiled for success.
While the commentators rolled over with superlatives at home, the Danish stars were taken aback by world handball player Mikkel Hansen in Malmö. Her trainer Nikolaj Jacobsen looked mighty pissed off. The general end-time mood went too far for the long-time Bundesliga coach and world champion maker.
Is the worst EM performance in the history of the handball nation a “fiasco”? “I don’t want to use such words,” said Jacobsen, annoyed: “We didn’t reach the level this time.” He didn’t want to be a bad loser, “but we also fell victim to the new EM mode. If you drop out with a goal because of a defeat, that’s questionable. ”
Denmark’s sports director Morten Stig Christensen became even clearer in his criticism. “Handball must consider whether it is good for nations like France and Denmark to be out after the preliminary round,” said Christensen.
Before the tournament, they had dreamed of the grand slam of handball, the combination of Olympic victory, world and European championship titles – but three points were not enough in the end. After a loss to Iceland (30:31) and a draw against Hungary (24:24), the final 31:28 win against Russia was no longer significant.
The handball superpower France also only came third in their preliminary round group after losing to Portugal and Norway – a place that would have been enough for the previous European championships to advance. But after the first tournament phase, the French went home.
Far more than with the new mode, the elimination of the favorites can be explained by the fact that 2020 is an Olympic year. While Denmark has long been qualified for Tokyo as the world champion, France, as third in the World Cup, as well as Norway, Germany, Sweden, Croatia and Spain, has at least one place for one of the three qualification tournaments in mid-April, in which six Olympic tickets are awarded among twelve teams , In contrast, at the European Championships only the European champions will be rewarded with direct participation in Tokyo. All other teams are fighting for two more of the coveted places for the Olympic elimination.
In the case of Denmark, however, the performance was also incorrect. Shaken by some injuries, Hansen and Co. made ten technical errors on average per game. For comparison: at the World Cup it was just half. “It is far too much if every single player produces as many as last year in the whole tournament,” said Hansen, who was criticized for his moderate appearances at home.
But Jacobsen also got his fat away. “You should think about it, Nikolaj,” wrote the Danish tabloid BT in large letters. He will. “I have complete responsibility and have to ask myself what I can do better,” said Jacobsen. He and his team cannot afford another blackout at the Olympic Games.