Vienna is not Trondheim: after the European Championship preliminary round, the German handball players felt that they had already left the circle of possible semi-finalists. Weak goalkeeper performances, no game idea, no leading players, a helpless coach – the substitute-weakened team struggled with many problems. The players also criticized the bad mood in the hall in Trondheim. Five days later, the picture looked completely transformed: As with the victory against Belarus, many things worked against Favorit Croatia that brought this team close to the top of the world. In the very well-filled Wiener Stadthalle, the DHB team was also carried away by the atmosphere. Only the result should not be right in the end.
The result: Germany led almost the entire game and ended up losing 24:25 (14:11). Without "Kampfsau" Golla: The game against Croatia should have been the culmination of his only short national team career. Circle runner and defense specialist Johannes Golla was nominated by national coach Christian Prokop after the preliminary round for the hapless backfield player Marian Michalczik and had convinced Belarus with aggressive defensive work. Even before this game, assistant coach Erik Wudtke had dubbed him "fighting pig" and had given him a new nickname. But on the way to the hall for his second European Championship appearance, Golla complained of nausea – the player from SG Flensburg-Handewitt was immediately brought back to the hotel. And so Prokop was missing in the final phase an important alternative in the fight against the Croatian body-playing.
Andreas Wolff's comeback: In the past few days, only one question has arisen: Which former handball national player in general and goalkeeper in particular had not commented on the performance of Andreas Wolff in the three preliminary round games? But the former Kiel remained calm, concentrated on his performances and was again close to the world class after the good game against Belarus against Croatia. Wolff showed 13 parades with a total of 38 Croatian litters, which corresponds to a quota of 34 percent.
Three times 100 percent: In the sixth minute of the game, Kai Häfner put the DHB team in the lead for the first time. In the meantime, the lead has even been extended to five goals. In addition to Wolff, the middle block convinced with Patrick Wiencek and Hendrik Pekeler, the ball wins in defense made the desired fast counter goals possible and the game over the outside positions worked much better than even against Spain and Latvia. Three players were particularly convincing on the offensive: Right winger Timo Kastening, like on the other hand Uwe Gensheimer, converted each of his throws, with the eight outsiders striking eight times. Tobias Reichmann only came on the record for the seven meters and he also changed each of his four attempts.
Assist of the game: How talented this young team is even in the absence of backfield players Fabian Wiede, Steffen Weinhold and Martin Strobel was shown in the 41st minute. The agile Philipp Weber passed his opponent with a body deception, in an inclined position he put the ball across the circle with a backhand pass to Jannik Kohlbacher, who took the pass and threw it free-standing into the goal. With such scenes, the team shows that I will continue to count on them in the future.Light-flaw: Captain Gensheimer spoke of an undeserved defeat after the game at ZDF. The narrative of this game also includes the phase from the 44th minute, when Germany gave up a three-goal lead (21:18) and scored only three goals in a quarter of an hour. Häfner, Julius Kühn, David Schmidt, Kohlbacher – they all made slight mistakes, inaccuracies and mis-throws and brought the Croatians, who had been struggling in the meantime, back into play.
The constellation: The tournament is not yet over for the German handball players. The third main round game against Austria follows on Monday (8.30 p.m., live ticker SPIEGEL.de) and on Wednesday the DHB selection will play against the Czech Republic. Theoretically, the semi-finals could be celebrated, but the starting point is complicated. If Germany and Belarus win their two remaining games, the two teams stand together with Spain on six points – unless the Spaniards win the top game against Croatia on Wednesday. Should all eventualities occur – Belarus would still have to win with seven or eight goals against favorite Spain – it could still be something with the semi-finals. This is not very likely, as DHB vice president at the ZDF sports studio summarized: "You can't be so drunk at all."
Icon: The mirror