Home European Championship: There is still a chance for Germany’s handball players

Home European Championship: There is still a chance for Germany’s handball players

To recover from a short night of sporting blows, almost every professional has developed their own ritual. Some people find distraction by watching television series, others withdraw, read a bit and try to fall asleep.

Germany’s game designer, Juri Knorr, spoke on Saturday morning in Cologne’s Lanxess Arena about how he had coped with the exit in the semi-finals of the European Handball Championship the evening before. “My girlfriend was there for a short time, that felt good. Otherwise, I didn’t talk much, I just numbed myself with my cell phone,” said the 23-year-old. “I occupied myself with other things and read until my eyes closed so I didn’t have to think about what was happening. It was a short night.”

Knorr had previously criticized himself relatively harshly and said that he had not been able to produce his best performance on the field during the 26:29 (14:12) against Denmark in what was possibly the most important game of his career to date. That really annoyed and frustrated him.

Germany’s Juri Knorr (l.) prevails against Denmark’s Henrik Möllgaard

Source: dpa

Other players from the German team, however, picked out the positive and looked ahead to the big last chance at this home tournament: the game for third place against defending champions Sweden on Sunday (3 p.m., ARD and Dyn). The historic opportunity to conclude the continental showdown on home soil with the first medal win in almost eight years was a great motivation for many players after the painful defeat against world champions Denmark in the semi-finals.

“Unfortunately we didn’t do that.”

The German players were able to find consolation in the fact that they had held up really well against the world-class ensemble from the neighboring country to the north for an unexpectedly long time. In the first half, the national team acted cleverly and agilely in defense, hardly caused any technical errors in the attack and posed a number of problems for their opponents, who were previously considered to be overpowering. Renars Uscins, who replaced Kai Häfner in the right back, who left to clarify family matters, scored beautifully several times from the second row and also shone as a good passer. Afterwards, the 21-year-old was even voted “Man of the Match” by TSV Hannover-Burgdorf.

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“We played well for over 50 minutes, but not over 60,” said Uscins after the game. “If you want to win against Denmark, you have to play well for at least 58 minutes. Unfortunately we didn’t do that. Mistakes at this level will then be punished immediately. We can still take a lot of positive things with us, especially how we fought. I hope that we can do it again on Sunday and leave the tournament feeling successful.”

Only flying is more beautiful: Renars Uscins (back) takes off and scores one of his five goals against Denmark

Quelle: Getty Images

The Danes only really got on track with a tactical trick at the beginning of the second half. They replaced their goalkeeper Emil Nielsen (FC Barcelona) during the attacks in favor of an additional field player and consistently played the majority until one of the professionals had a free chance to throw. The result: After the 14:12 half-time lead, national coach Alfred Gislason’s lead gradually collapsed.

In the 36th minute, the Danes took the lead for the first time in the encounter through Simon Hald and routinely extended their lead to 16:15 with the toughness of a world-class team. The Germans lost the grip in defense that they had found all too often before the break against the backcourt around veteran Mikkel Hansen, 36, and Füchse Berlin star Mathias Gidsel, 24.

Role model for action: Captain Johannes Golla (M.)

Quelle: Getty Images

Captain Johannes Golla also saw the turning point in the encounter in the opponent’s strong numerical superiority game. “We didn’t manage to find the right remedy against the 7:6. The Danes played it out so patiently and well that we were mostly left behind. We invested a lot there, but without getting into proper physical contact,” he said. “It’s nice that we were able to keep up for a long time. Nevertheless, the dream has now shattered.”

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A small one, according to the 112-kilogram colossus, would still remain – the game for third place. In the game, the best German ball throwers can not only win their first medal since winning Olympic bronze in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, but if they win they can also gain the right to take part in the Summer Games in Paris. They would then bypass a qualifying tournament from March 14th to 17th with three opponents in Hanover. That wouldn’t be a bad undertaking, especially in terms of the wear and tear in a season with around 80 games for people like the captain.

Kuriose Szene

However, in the ninth European Championship game since the furious start with a world record attendance record on January 10th in Düsseldorf, Golla and Co. will face an opponent who will go into the game with a lot of trouble. Sweden looked like the sure winner in their semi-final duel with France on Friday evening, but then had to accept a bitter setback in the last action of the regular season. Elohim Prandi scored with a direct free throw from ten meters away to make it 27:27. A scene rarely seen at this level.

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However, the Swedes identified a violation of the rules: the argument went that Prandi briefly released both feet from the floor of the hall when he made his powerful throw into the right corner of the goal, which is forbidden. The two referees Slave Nikolov and Gjorgji Nachevski (North Macedonia) should have checked this using video evidence, said the Swedes.

However, the European handball association EHF rejected the team’s objection to the rating of the game on Saturday afternoon. The 30:34 defeat after extra time against France, who will face Denmark in the final on Sunday (5.45 p.m., Dyn), remained.

Whether the oddity on Sunday afternoon in the Rhenish metropolis will still have an impact on the selection of coach Glenn Solberg will be an exciting question. Another, however, seems to have been clarified in advance: that of the competitor’s motivation. “Playing for a medal in Germany in your own hall is incentive enough,” said half-left Julian Köster. “And if we can then make the Olympics a reality, everyone will be motivated to the core.”

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