Germany's handball players were helpless on the floor after the strong mood dampener in the bitter 23:30 (11:16) defeat against world champion Denmark.
Ten months before the start of the home European Championship, the team of national coach Alfred Gislason revealed considerable deficits in a duel with the three-time champion and could not build on the sometimes convincing World Cup appearances.
Coach and captain disappointed: "A lot of catching up to do"
"The Danes were superior in every respect in defense and attack. We couldn't keep up," said Gislason. Captain Johannes Golla was even clearer: "We surrendered too easily today and didn't bring our quality to the table. Unfortunately, we didn't do very well. The way we presented ourselves wasn't okay."
In front of 4644 spectators in Aalborg, Juri Knorr was the top scorer with five goals for the disappointing German team, who already have the chance to take revenge in the second leg in Hamburg on Sunday. "We want to do better there," said the national coach.
At the first appearance after the respectable fifth place at the World Cup, the DHB selection had to do without the sick backcourt player Julian Köster. The 22-year-old was mainly missing in defence, which was rarely accessed. The German defense was often overwhelmed against the pace of play by the Danes, who were missing numerous stars such as goalkeeper Niklas Landin, director Rasmus Lauge and captain Mikkel Hansen. "We tried different constellations in defense in training, but you can't say that it worked," complained Gislason. "We have a lot of catching up to do there."
Danes surprise German defensive
After a good twelve minutes, the DHB team was already five goals behind at 5:10. Gislason responded with a time out in which to shake up his charges. "Guys, we're not fully there. That's not enough," criticized the national coach.
But things didn't go well in attack either. Knorr, who had shone with tricks and goals at the World Cup, could hardly provide impetus and also missed two seven meters in the first half. Ten minutes before the break, Gislason took the young German star off the floor from Bundesliga leaders Rhein-Neckar Löwen. Marian Michalczik, who had subsequently slipped into the squad for the injured Luca Witzke, came on for Knorr.
Wolff prevents debacle
But that didn't change the weak throwing rate. Even the clearest chances were missed and only 44 percent of attacks in the first half were successfully completed, which was also due to the strong Landin representative Emil Nielsen in the Danish goal. "We threw extremely badly. Of course it takes revenge," criticized Gislason.
Luckily, goalkeeper Andreas Wolff was in good form, just like he was at the World Cup. The 31-year-old saved seven throws before the break, including two seven-metre throws, and thus kept the deficit within limits. "We have to act with more courage and trust to get close again," demanded DHB sports director Axel Kromer.
But nothing came of it. On the contrary: Eight minutes after the change, the deficit was already eight goals at 13:21, in the middle of the second half it was even eleven at 17:28. Only in the final phase, when the Danes took things a little easier, could the result be made a little more bearable.