After the quarterfinals against France, the DHB team still has to play the placement games at the visibly exhausting Handball World Cup. It starts on Friday (January 27) against Egypt (from 3.30 p.m. live on the first and on sportschau.de).
Above all, it was the 16 partially completely free missed throws and the 16 technical mistakes that robbed Germany’s handball men of a possible victory against France in the quarter-finals.
In any case, when looking for explanations, players and coaches agreed on one thing: tiredness. Julian Köster, for example, was no longer able to play properly in attack because he had to work so hard on the defensive, explained national coach Alfred Gislason on ZDF. You didn’t have the necessary breadth in the squad to give the important players enough breaks – in contrast to France.
Golla and Knorr – hard work to the breaking point
In fact, the German team had already collapsed in attack against Norway in the last main round game in the second half and anyone who observed how outstanding Juri Knorr played against Norway and France in the first halves, but then visibly got on their gums, could tell the national coach what the When it comes to the question of load, there is hardly any disagreement.
Knorr, who bears the main burden in attack for the Germans, has played 254 minutes in the seven tournament games so far, 420 would have been possible – and against Argentina and Algeria the DHB team was so clearly ahead early on that they were able to change. Knorr is only number three among the German outfield players. Johannes Golla, for example, has played almost 350 minutes.
That’s more minutes for both Knorr and Golla than, for example, all Swedish players have under their belts and for Knorr about as many as Norway’s superstar Sander Sagosen, who also played with his team in the quarter-finals against Spain in two overtimes. For further comparison: Denmark’s Mikkel Hansen didn’t play 200 minutes, Spain’s Alex Dujshebaev just cracked the 200 mark. The burden is high for everyone, but especially so for Germany’s top performers.
In addition, games are played every two days. Knorr had already made it clear on the Sportschau microphone before the France game: “You might have to think about whether it’s necessary to play six very intense games before you get to the absolute knockout phase, where everything really counts.” When asked about the two remaining placement games, he said: “I don’t understand this mode. It is what it is. […] It’s also dangerous for us and our bodies.”
Travel strains for Germany, Norway and Co.
In fact, the travel strains at this bloated two-country tournament are also enormous. Germany completed the preliminary and main rounds in Kattowitz, traveled to Gdansk for the quarter-finals and now had to fly to Stockholm early in the morning after the quarter-finals – until the final whistle of the game between Sweden and Egypt it was still unclear whether the DHB would not play in Gdansk would stay. Planning security – none. For the Norwegians it even went from Kraków to Katowice, then to Gdansk and now also to Stockholm. And also Sagosen, who only got fit again shortly before the tournament after a long injury, to see in the quarter-finals that the great liveliness was not there (anymore).
Placement games are (not only) important for the Olympic qualification
However, it is undisputed that the placement games have a further purpose in addition to the chance to end the tournament with a sense of achievement and to gain more experience at the top level. Because depending on which place you end up in, it has an influence on the Olympic qualification. The world champion qualifies directly for the Olympic Games, France is also already set as host in 2024, should the French become world champions, the runner-up would also qualify directly. The top six teams (aside from France) that are not world champions, or, in the case of France, runners-up, will play in one of the Olympic qualifying tournaments next year.
Depending on how the continental championships turn out, up to two other teams could even move up with a good placement at this World Cup. The better the nations do at the World Cup, the supposedly easier the qualifying group will be.
Don’t leave the tournament with four losses
However, it is at least doubtful whether this fact can provide particularly great additional motivation for the four quarter-final losers Germany, Egypt, Norway and Hungary who have already qualified for the tournaments. The prospect of a sense of achievement is likely to be the greater motivation – after all, nobody wants to end the tournament with three or four defeats in a row. Especially for the German team, after many strong performances, that wouldn’t be the end it deserved.