Germany at the Handball World Cup: Clear work order for Gislason – Sport

“I’m proud of this team.” This sentence was often heard from Alfred Gislason, and even after the final 28:24 victory in the match for fifth place against the Norwegians, the national coach was at least “very satisfied”. The national team thus concluded the Handball World Championships in Poland and Sweden with success and not only took the “step forward” that Gislason had hoped for. At times, the young selection offered inspiring lectures that were definitely suitable for stoking euphoria at home.

That was probably the most important finding for the German Handball Federation (DHB) after the historically poor twelfth place in the previous world title fights in Egypt. Especially with regard to the decade of handball proclaimed by the DHB – with the home European Championships next year and the home World Cup in 2027. At the same time, fifth place in the World Cup means a good starting position for one of the three outstanding qualifying tournaments for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris , for which the DHB will apply as the organizer, as President Andreas Michelmann let know.

Nevertheless, Gislason, who will soon be extending his contract, which runs until 2024, knows how to classify this performance. Because even in the last game, the German selection slacked off in the second half, getting into trouble with technical errors and weak throws.

The German team still lacks consistency, they have proven their potential for being at the top of the world

In the previous game against Olympic fourth-placed Egypt, the Germans lost an eight-goal lead and only trembled to victory in extra time. The team built these phases of weakness into their performances with great consistency, including in the quarter-finals against France – against an opponent who knows how to take advantage of such things. The DHB team met the record world champion for a long time, led in the second half, then lost a better result in the last 15 minutes.

This also revealed that there is still a gap – albeit a much smaller one – to the world elite. The same, that is the assignment in the DHB to Gislason, must now be closed completely: to form a team that is able to play for medals.

This is not a presumptuous demand from the handball association with the most members on this planet, which likes to adorn itself with the best league in the world. And with their appearances in Katowice, Gdansk and now in Stockholm, the German selection has made Gislason’s job more precise, so to speak: “We managed to play consistently for 60 minutes against Norway for the first time,” said goalkeeper Andreas Wolff after the win – the first in years against an opponent who is one of the elite in world handball.

Bearers of hope: playmaker Juri Knorr should lead German handball back to the top of the world.

(Photo: Jan Woitas/dpa)

Olympic champions France, World Cup title holders Denmark, European champions Sweden and Spain, consistently among the top four at major tournaments, once again the top nations made up the winner among themselves. The Germans’ attempt to penetrate this circle failed again, but they hadn’t been that close for a long time.

The most important players still lack experience and the team lacks quality across the board. However, both of these issues could be remedied in the foreseeable future. Juri Knorr and Julian Köster, the 22-year-old professionals who will probably define the coming years, play crucial roles in their clubs in the Bundesliga. There is no better training place, nowhere else is the international competition so well-fed. What applies to the colleagues as well – only goalkeeper Andreas Wolff plays abroad for the Polish top club Kielce. Of course, you don’t have to worry about the goalkeeper – the 31-year-old was the only DHB player to consistently play at world-class level at this World Cup.

So Gislason already has a first line-up suitable for the World Cup – and at the latest after the Norway game the realization that the substitutes are on the way there. Players such as Luca Witzke, Djibril M’Bengue and the subsequently nominated Tim Zechel and Lukas Stutzke brought relief. In addition, some tried and tested players were missing, such as Timo Kastening, Julius Kühn (both injured) and Fabian Wiede (dental surgery), who want to return, and the resting defense boss Hendrik Pekeler has already announced this.

Good prospects, then, that Alfred Gislason can be proud of his team in the future.


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