A very dangerous playmaker, a very strong goalkeeper – and stable nerves: the German handball players have passed their dress rehearsal and are starting their World Cup mission in Poland and Sweden with a tailwind.
National coach Alfred Gislason’s side beat sixth-placed Iceland at the European Championships on Sunday January 8, 2023 in the second 24-hour endurance test with 33:31 (19:14 ) and gained valuable self-confidence five days before the start of the tournament.
The best actors were Juri Knorr and Andreas Wolff. The 22-year-old intermediate Knorr became Germany’s top scorer with 13 goals and ripped more than 10,000 Hannover spectators from their seats with his spectacular play. Additionally, goalkeeper Wolff has shown himself in World Cup form with a number of saves.
“Of course it does us good”said Knorr, “But you have to keep the ball a bit flat and you don’t have to set your expectations too high.”
At the critical moment, 2016 European champions Germany turned up the heat. The “second costume”, on the other hand, worries. Because as in the 30:31 defeat the day before in Bremen, Germany lost the thread on Sunday after a clear lead. Gislason said: “The first suit fits very well, but it lacks the width.”
Golla complains about simple errors
“It’s good to end the preparations with a victory. Now we are happy that things are getting serious.”, said Johannes Golla. However, the captain complained of too many simple mistakes and a few hiccups: “It must be a warning to us that something like this could break our necks.”
When coach Gislason substituted at half-time and also removed Wolff from the pitch, the Icelanders, where SC Magdeburg’s Omar Ingi Magnusson and captain Aron Palmarsson (Aalborg, ex-THW Kiel) were rested, had no need only ten minutes to equalize. But Knorr and Wolff got the German team back on track in the closing stages. Veteran Kai Häfner is also causing concern. The southpaw limped off the pitch in the closing stages. Häfner was injured in an attack and later treated while lying behind the German bench.
Thanks to the well-deserved success on Sunday, the team of the German Handball Federation (DHB) approached the last meters of their preparation for the tournament with positive energy. The 10,043 fans in the sold-out arena in Hannover gave the team a standing ovation.
“We are all in the mood for the tournament to finally start“Knorr said before the start of the dress rehearsal against the ‘secret favourite’ of the World Cup (O-Ton Gislason) – and put his words into action.
The middle man proved to be the linchpin of the German game from the start on Sunday and shone as a pacemaker and careful passer as well as a reliable goalscorer. In the first half alone, Knorr scored nine times.
Tune-up at Barsinghausen Sports School
Golla and Co. will spend the next few days fine-tuning the sports school in Barsinghausen. On Thursday, the German team will fly by charter flight to the preliminary round site in Kattowitz, where the World Cup adventure against Asian champions Qatar will begin the next day. The other opponents in the battle for the main round are Serbia on January 15 and Algeria on January 17.
In the first test on Saturday, the German team had long since proven its suitability for the World Cup. Knorr in particular played well until the 23:17 lead, before Gislason made some changes and Iceland passed in the dying minutes. “The second suit isn’t in place yet,” Gislason complained afterwards and called the loss “educational.”
Germany – Iceland 33:31 (19:14)
Goals: Knorr (13 goals/8 shots on goal), Köster (5), Golla (3), Häfner (3), Kohlbacher (3), Groetzki (2), Steinert (2), Mertens (1), Weber ( 1 ) for Germany
Gudjonsson (8), Kristjanson (8/3), G Kristjansson (5), Jonsson (3), K Kristjansson (2), Arnarsson (1), Elisson (1), Gislason (1), Smarason (1), Vioarsson (1) for Iceland
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