Sweden takes the title – Golla in the All-Star Team
After a tour de force of nine games in 17 days, Sweden triumphed over Spain in the final of the European Handball Championship. A historical title. The tournament also has a happy ending for Germany.
EEurope’s handball kings come from Sweden for the first time in 20 years. The record European champions beat defending champions Spain 27:26 (12:13) in front of 14,238 spectators in Budapest on Sunday and made the fifth triumph after 1994, 1998, 2000 and 2002 perfect.
The final, under the prudent direction of the German referees Robert Schulze and Tobias Tönnies, offered pace and drama from the start. The best throwers for the World Cup runners-up from Sweden were circle runner Oscar Bergendahl and Niclas Ekberg, who had returned from the corona quarantine, with five goals each. The man from Kiel converted a seven-meter penalty at the last second and thus set the final point. Right winger Aleix Gomez scored six times for the Spaniards.
Although the Swedes were always ahead at first, they could never really break away. The lead never grew to more than two goals. Goalkeeper Andreas Palicka had a great day, just like in the 34:33 in the semi-final against France. The 35-year-old was the main support with numerous saves and once again distinguished himself as a goalscorer.
“You don’t stress yourself”
But the Scandinavians missed a lot of chances in attack – including two seven meters in the first 15 minutes. So the ripped off Spaniards always stayed within striking distance. “They play very clever and economical handball. They don’t stress themselves and never act excitedly, even when they’re behind,” said national coach Alfred Gislason on Sportdeutschland.tv shortly before kick-off, describing the defending champion’s style of play.
And indeed: One minute before the break, Spain took the lead for the first time at 12:11 – also because goalkeeper Rodrigo Corrales Rodal saved a few balls. The second round was exciting.
Both teams played at eye level and kept finding gaps in the opponent’s defence. So it went head to head in the last two minutes, during which the Swedes kept their nerve and cheered at the end.
Denmark takes bronze
Previously, top favorite Denmark had returned the favor for dropping out in the semi-finals and still won the bronze medal. In a dramatic game for third place, the world champion beat Olympic champion France 35:32 (29:29, 13:14) after extra time.
In the Scandinavian team, where superstar Mikkel Hansen was missing, two Bundesliga professionals shone. Goalkeeper Niklas Landin from German record champions THW Kiel parried a total of 18 throws, backcourt player Jacob Holm from Füchsen Berlin was the best scorer with ten goals.
The tournament also had a happy ending for Germany. The selection, which was burdened by 16 corona cases in the team, only took seventh place in the ranking, but at least one player was honored for his achievements: Captain Johannes Golla. As the best circle player at the European Championships, he was elected to the all-star team.
The 24-year-old from German runners-up SG Flensburg-Handewitt played the most minutes in the national team at the finals in Hungary and Slovakia and was also Germany’s top scorer with 28 goals. “Johannes has done a lot for our team with a lot of playing time at the back and front,” said national coach Alfred Gislason in praise of the North German.
“It’s a nice surprise and great to receive such recognition for what you’ve accomplished. I take the nomination as a compliment to the entire team,” said Golla. “I hope that in the next tournaments we will stay in the competition as a team and achieve our sporting goals.”
Golla’s Flensburg club colleague Jim Gottfridsson was voted the most valuable player of the tournament. The 29-year-old Swede received this award for the second time after 2018. Only two players have previously achieved this: Ivano Balic from Croatia and ex-Kieler Nikola Karabatic from France.