Handball European Championship: Knorr speaks out with his critic Kretzschmar

Handball European Championship: Knorr speaks out with his critic Kretzschmar

Handball German playmaker

Knorr speaks out with his critic Kretzschmar

As of: 4:02 p.m. | Reading time: 5 minutes

“Phenomenal” – DHB team celebrates outstanding Köster

The German handball players have a place in the semi-finals in their own hands again. The DHB team delivered a strong performance against Hungary. Julian Köster in particular excelled and then received plenty of praise from his teammates.

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Germany’s European Championship victory over Hungary made it clear once again how important Juri Knorr is for the team. The playmaker had previously been harshly criticized by old handball stars. Knorr reports how the differences were resolved.

The musical interludes during this European Handball Championship are by no means to suit everyone’s taste. But at least you have to give credit to the DJ at Cologne’s Lanxess Arena for showing a keen sense of the scenery late on Monday evening. During a time-out eight minutes before the final whistle, he let the old hit “If not now, then when?” blare over the speakers – the song that accompanied Germany’s handball players during the 2007 winter fairy tale and whose lyrics fit the current mood quite well.

After all, the next generation of the world champions had put themselves in a bit of trouble, but were now on the verge of winning the groundbreaking game against Hungary. The final result was 35:28 (18:17), which promoted national coach Alfred Gislason’s team to second place in the main round group I and thus put them back on track for the semi-finals.

The German game stands or falls with him: Juri Knorr (M.) in the 35:28 win over Hungary


When the “Höhner” songs had long since faded away and things had become a little quieter in the arena, which was once again sold out with 19,750 spectators, one of the protagonists of the success stood down in the mixed zone: Juri Knorr. “Today we played a game that very few people believed we could do. I’m extremely proud of that,” said the 23-year-old director of the German national team. “I was surprised at how well the things we set out to do worked out. We knew that we could work better together as a team. That’s what we did.”

“Everything is clarified personally”

An assessment that applied above all to himself. When Knorr is in a good mood, the entire selection looks better. The German game stands or falls with him. In the duel with Hungary, the good Knorr was visible again, who put his colleagues in the best light and helped the half-left Julian Köster in particular to have a special evening: The Gummersbacher was the best thrower of the evening with eight goals from nine attempts and consequently became a man of the game chosen.

During the main lap, which was quite undulating, Knorr had to listen to clear criticism at times. Some old stars like Stefan Kretzschmar, Pascal Hens and Michael Kraus had accused him of his style being too static and of delaying the game too often.

Juri Knorr (l.) scores one of his four goals against Hungary

Source: dpa

After the win against Hungary, the man from the Rhein-Neckar Löwen revealed that there had been a discussion with the former heroes of the scene. “It’s all good, everything has been sorted out personally,” said Knorr. “Handball is a big family in which you can say things to each other, but then you can also look each other in the eye again. It was a collaboration, an exchange, they approached me, which I am very grateful for. I’ve never held a grudge. I’m always happier, especially when you’re in this handball context, even across generations, that you treat each other with respect. That was always the case. That’s how it was now in the follow-up. What I wanted to say resonated with many people: that we can only achieve something together. I’m glad that this has been clarified and I just wanted to be there personally for the team today.”

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It is part of Knorr’s nature that he questions many things – and takes criticism very seriously. In an interview with WELT AM SONNTAG before the start of the home European Championships, he said that he regularly seeks the help of a mental coach. “I have been working with a sports psychologist for a long time. For me, that’s just part of competitive sports. He also works with me holistically because I really don’t just think about handball and don’t just see myself as a handball player.”

The discussion with Kretzschmar and Co. was certainly a factor in the fact that he and the team showed a significant improvement in performance compared to the previous, embarrassing 22:22 against Austria. And the national coach also apparently chose appropriate words when preparing for the game on the rest day. Gislason was unusually emotional, some handball players reported afterwards.

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“We as a team know Alfred as a direct communicator. We really appreciated that we had a completely different kind of speech before the game. “That touched us very much,” said Knorr. “The Austria game made us come together even more. Alfred was emotional and personally reminded everyone why we actually do this, why we play handball, why we are allowed to play here. Of course we played for him today too.”

Showdown against Croatia

The German handball players will also need that attitude on Wednesday evening (8.30 p.m., ARD/Dyn) when they face Croatia in the last main round game for a place in the semi-finals. With 5:3 points, the selection takes second place behind the already qualified Olympic champions France (8:0). Hungary and Austria (both 4:4) also still have a chance of making it to the knockout rounds. The best two teams qualify for the semi-finals, which will take place on Friday in Cologne.

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Of course, Knorr and Co., who now have everything in their own hands again and are not dependent on the results of other games, want to be there. “We have a goal that is a little further away,” said the middle man – and, looking at the style of play of the upcoming opponent, recalled a game from the preliminary round: “Croatia, like North Macedonia, is a very proud team. There will be a lot of fire in there again. We have to get our tools together again, like we did against Hungary. Then we will attack there again. We have 20,000 people behind us.”


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