Handball EM: German handball players celebrate opening victory

The newly formed German handball players fought their way into the European Championships with a success they had worked hard to achieve. The young team of national coach Alfred Gislason beat Belarus by 33:29 (17:18) in their first game on Friday evening after major initial difficulties. The German team’s best pitchers were Kai Häfner and Marcel Schiller, each with eight goals. Before the second preliminary round game on Sunday (6 p.m. / ARD) against Austria, the DHB selection is on course for the main round thanks to the successful start.

At the beginning, however, almost nothing went according to plan in front of 1291 spectators in Bratislava. Instead of bringing in the experienced Andreas Wolff, Gislason initially put on tournament newcomer Till Klimpke in goal – which didn’t pay off. The 23-year-old from HSG Wetzlar didn’t hold a ball in the early stages. That’s one of the reasons why the DHB selection was suddenly 2:7 behind after an early 2:1 lead in the eleventh minute. And Gislason reacted promptly: Wolff came on the record earlier than planned, and the weak Sebastian Heymann also had to give way at first.

It was already certain that a number of newcomers to the German squad would play their first European Championship game. How they would do in an emergency only became apparent on the field. Only after the sometimes highly nervous early minutes did Gislason’s upheaval team increase. With the 2016 European champions Wolff and Julius Kühn, the DHB selection gained stability and experience. The result: after 21 minutes they were 11:10 in the lead, but at the break the ripped-off Belarusians were ahead again. The game initially remained a rollercoaster ride.

DHB team settles down late in the game

“We have to be much more compact in defence, be more aggressive,” said team manager Oliver Roggisch at half-time on ARD. “More help, that has to come now. The goalkeepers will come now too.” At least veteran Wolff actually improved a little, but the 30-year-old didn’t have his best day either. Nevertheless, the DHB selection was better. On the one hand, this was due to the fact that the Belarusians’ dreaded rotation game over their world-class player Artsem Karalek didn’t work quite as well as in the first half. On the other hand, the German team now used their chances more consistently.

At least initially. Because, although the Belarusians were also losing more and more condition, Gislason’s team was not able to break away clearly at first. As usual, the Icelander trotted along the edge of the page, sometimes venting his frustration loudly, sometimes nervously chewing his fingernails. Even more experienced players like Timo Kastening couldn’t shed their tension and in the end missed some of the best opportunities. That’s why the coach didn’t really find peace until late in the game. Then the DHB selection sat down. And in the end, the basis for the targeted entry into the main round was well deserved.

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