Handball: First bankruptcy for the DHB team before the quarterfinals

With his hands in his pockets and his head bowed, Alfred Gislason crept alone across the floor in Katowice.

Handball: First bankruptcy for the DHB team before the quarterfinals

With his hands in his pockets and his head bowed, Alfred Gislason crept alone across the floor in Katowice. The national handball coach didn't smile, he couldn't hide his disappointment at the narrow defeat against the first top team at this World Cup.

At 26:28 (16:18) against Norway, the DHB selection had to accept their first setback in the tournament, which has been so exciting so far, two days before the quarter-finals.

And the next heavyweight is already waiting on Wednesday: then the first game of the knockout round will be against the previously undefeated Olympic champions France.

Since both teams had previously qualified for the knockout stages, the game in Katowice was no longer of great importance. In front of around 4,500 spectators, Juri Knorr was the best thrower in the German team with eight goals. "It is very clear that we are not playing our best game," said the 22-year-old on ARD. There was a lot in it for the German team. "Of course we're living better with the defeat today than in two days. I still think it annoys us all quite a bit," said the playmaker and looked ahead to the France game: "I'm quite sure that we'll be on Wednesday with appear in a different face."

Gislason struggles with missed opportunities

Despite the defeat, Gislason first praised his players for their passion and commitment, but then complained about the numerous missed chances in the second half. "It's really a shame how we dealt with very clear chances in the second half. We should have brought the game home from the six-meter line with a better chance," said the Icelander. His team has "a huge character" and the team is "getting better and better".

Even the game against Norway should become a yardstick for the German team. After five wins from five World Cup games, the answer to the question: How good is the DHB selection really? Norway were the first world-class team Germany met at this World Cup. And it showed that the young German team is very close to this level. Although by no means everything worked. By far not.

Wolff comes in early for Birlehm

The main reasons why the DHB selection was able to keep the game tight throughout had two names: Juri Knorr and Andreas Wolff. The young director and the again outstanding goalkeeper shaped the game of the German team, in other parts of the team it didn't fit as well. The defense was not in top form against this top team, the second big problem was converting chances. But the German team stayed tuned.

Weaknesses that a team like the Norwegians - who didn't show their best performance either - know how to exploit. This was also due to the fact that Joel Birlehm, who was surprisingly called up by Gislason from the start, did not find his way into the game at all. The Icelander took the 25-year-old out again in the 9th minute and brought Wolff into play. And it was worth it.

Just a few seconds after being substituted on, the 31-year-old made his first strong save. By the final whistle he had several more to follow. That was also necessary because the German defensive continued to find stability. But at least there was Knorr and Wolff.

Thanks to Wolff, the DHB team keeps up to the end

Other players like the enormously important captain Johannes Golla or veteran Patrick Groetzki had their difficulties. But against such a top nation, everything has to be right to take the lead. However, this did not succeed at first. Norway led by two goals at the break.

"I think we can finish a little more effectively," said DHB sports director Axel Kromer at half-time. "We can't do much differently in terms of the playing system, we're doing it well. But so are the Norwegians." After the change of sides, however, the Norwegians lost and failed several times due to the outstanding Wolff. The only problem was that the German team sometimes missed the best opportunities.

Nevertheless, it remained tight throughout the game. And that was perhaps the most important finding of the evening from a German point of view: that you can keep up, even at this level. Even if it wasn't quite enough in the end.

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