Brave DHB handball players have to bury semi-final dreams

Surprise given away, dream of a medal burst: Germany’s corona-plagued handball players missed out on the semi-finals of the European Championship despite a courageous performance.

The DHB team of national coach Alfred Gislason conceded the third main round defeat in a row at 21:25 (10:12) against vice world champion Sweden and has no chance of participating in the finals in Budapest before the end of the second phase of the tournament.

In front of 1992 spectators in the Ondreja Nepelu Arena in Bratislava, the DHB team, which was shaken by twelve corona-related failures, had a chance in the long-exciting “Sweden thriller”, but it was not rewarded for a strong defensive performance. Youngster Julian Köster was the most successful thrower for the selection of the German Handball Federation (DHB) on Sunday with four goals.

After the two defeats against Spain (23:29) and Norway (23:28), Germany had urgently needed a win to maintain the chance of participating in a European Championship semi-final for the first time since the triumph in 2016. This did not succeed because the inexperienced team made too many misses and technical mistakes offensively. In addition, the goalkeepers Johannes Bitter and Daniel Rebmann did not have a good day behind the good cover.

Köster takes responsibility on the offensive

The final main round game on Tuesday (6:00 p.m. / ZDF) against Russia is sportingly meaningless. The game for fifth place can no longer be achieved for the DHB selection, with 2:6 points now penultimate in the main round group 2.

While Luca Witzke and Lukas Mertens, the first two of the infected players, started their journey home on Sunday, Gislason, Hendrik Wagner, was the first player from the Corona hospital to be available again. The second division professional from Eulen Ludwigshafen was allowed to leave the corona isolation after two negative PCR tests and give his EM premiere. However, other players took center stage against the Swedes.

Julian Köster, the German discovery of the tournament, immediately took responsibility again on the offensive. Whether as a goalscorer, provider of assists or playmaker – the refreshing youngster from the second division club VfL Gummersbach decided almost every attacking action.

DHB selection for the break at eye level

However, the German offensive allowed itself to make mistakes again and again. A very good performance by the cover around Captain Johannes Golla remained fruitless. “The defense is good. The problem is the mistakes you make up front,” Gislason complained during his first break.

Although the Swedes around Flensburg’s Jim Gottfridsson went almost nine minutes in a row without their own goal in the first half, Germany was initially unable to equalize. That was also due to the unfortunate goalkeeper Bitter, who was replaced by Rebmann after 26 minutes and just one save.

“There is still a lot possible,” said DHB sports director Axel Kromer at the break. “We’ve shown that we can keep up with the Swedes. They’re a bit tired and we have to take advantage of that.”

In fact, Germany equalized at 13:13 (37 th ) for the first time since the early stages. The DHB selection could have led for the first time long ago, but counter situations were given away carelessly and hastily. Gislason went on a rampage on the bench as his team missed three chances to take the lead. Shortly before the end, Sweden pulled away.


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