Handball European Championship: Germany’s knot bursts against Hungary – semi-final very close

As of: January 23, 2024 12:09 a.m

The German handball players gave a strong response to the weak performance against Austria and defeated Hungary 35:28 (18:17) with a top performance. The door to the semi-finals is now wide open.

Jens Mickler

His teammates almost had to push him, but after embarrassed hesitation, Julian Köster walked up to the “Player of the Game” award with a broad grin. The 23-year-old, who learned to play handball in Brauweiler less than 20 kilometers from the Cologne Arena, was rightly celebrated by the 19,750 spectators. He scored eight goals in nine attempts and, as he did throughout the tournament, also shone in defense. “I’m very happy, especially in Cologne, my hometown, it’s an experience that you won’t quickly forget,” said Köster at the sports show. “When the hall is freaking out like that and I can help the team like that, it’s even more fun.”

Desiree Krause, sports show, January 22nd, 2024 11:03 p.m

The team danced in circles, but only briefly enjoyed their victory. While still on the blue parquet, national coach Alfred Gislason swore his team would have the “match point” against Croatia: Another win on Wednesday (8.30 p.m., live on ARD and on sportschau.de), then the hosts will be in the semi-finals of their European Championship as dreamed of .

It’s not that far yet. Nevertheless, there was a celebration late on Monday evening in the Cologne Arena – and a team that was unrecognizable after the “cruel performance” (coach Alfred Gislason) against Austria.

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Wolff thaws out in the second half

The team showed a class performance, especially on offense, the moves worked much better, there was speed and variety. The knot was finally broken after 23 missed throws on Saturday. “The attack was fantastic today, we showed a great reaction to the criticism after the Austria game,” said goalkeeper Andreas Wolff. This improvement was sorely needed because, on the one hand, the Hungarians again had a lot of throwing power from the backcourt at the start. On the other hand, because Wolff, the hero of the games against Iceland and Austria, couldn’t get a hold of anything.

This time the 32-year-old wasn’t a factor at all at the beginning; it wasn’t until the second half that he saved a throw for the first time. “I felt like I scored more own goals than we conceded,” said Wolff, self-criticizing, which is also why the game was still open at halftime. Only when Wolff thawed out and made nine saves in the second 30 minutes did Germany pull away.

Knorr – “Our best attacking game”

“We played our best attacking game in the entire tournament,” said playmaker Juri Knorr. “It was clear that over time the defense would come, that Andi would come.” The 23-year-old center man only took five throws (and scored four times), but he did so at the right time. With three Knorr goals, Germany pulled ahead for the first time after the break to 21:18, and the director cleverly used his teammates and set the pace. In addition to Knorr, Köster, but also Sebastian Heymann and Kai Häfner (four goals each) were able to shine.

“What stood out for me today was the tactical maturity that we showed as a team,” said Knorr. “We were expected to fight, to step on the gas, to lose our heads at some point, but we didn’t do that today. It just makes me proud because I knew that it was possible and that it was within us.”

Zerbe – three and a half hours between home and the national anthem

Lukas Zerbe made his European Championship debut at very short notice, replacing Timo Kastening, who was suffering from flu. The right winger from TBV Lemgo Lippe only traveled to the team on Monday afternoon – there were only three and a half hours between the call and the national anthem. “I thought I would train normally this evening,” said the 28-year-old, who instead quickly grabbed his sports bag and drove to Cologne. “It was great, pure goosebumps during the national anthem, it was a lot of fun.”

Kastening, national coach Alfred Gislason hopes, should be back on Wednesday against Croatia. With a win, the German team will reach the semi-finals, where they would face Denmark in second place. Gislason isn’t thinking about it yet. “We’re not further along yet,” said the 64-year-old, who declared a knockout system with his team. “We made it to the round of 16 and now we have the quarter-finals on our hands.”

Incidentally, in Kastening’s absence, Andreas Wolff became a DJ and was allowed to set the music in the dressing room. “It worked out well for the boys,” said Wolff. “For me – well. Maybe I don’t like my own music.” The looseness is back after the redemptive victory. If the offensive forces and the goalkeepers deliver equally on Wednesday – then Germany will move into the semi-finals of the home European Championship.