Handball Bundesliga: handball title fight comes to a head: trio can dream

First, THW Kiel made a clear statement in the title fight with a convincing victory in the 108th northern derby against SG Flensburg-Handewitt, then the rivals Füchse Berlin and SC Magdeburg followed suit.

Handball Bundesliga: handball title fight comes to a head: trio can dream

First, THW Kiel made a clear statement in the title fight with a convincing victory in the 108th northern derby against SG Flensburg-Handewitt, then the rivals Füchse Berlin and SC Magdeburg followed suit.

Eight games before the end of the season, the group of serious title contenders in the Handball Bundesliga has been reduced to this trio.

The record champions from Kiel beat Flensburg on Sunday in front of 10,285 spectators in their home arena with a clear 29:19 (13:8) and remains the leader with 43:9 points thanks to the better goal difference ahead of the Berliners who are tied on points. The capital club celebrated a brilliant 38:24 (20:12) victory against the cup winners Rhein-Neckar Löwen.

A week after the final thriller in the DHB Cup, champions Magdeburg struggled against TSV Hannover-Burgdorf to a hard-fought 31:30 (13:12) and, third in the table, has 43:11 points. In fourth place, Flensburg are now four points behind the top duo and have little chance of winning the championship.

"We are incredibly happy. With performances like this we don't have to worry about our competitors," said THW goalkeeper Niklas Landin, who was outstanding with 16 saves, after the 65th derby victory. And circle player Hendrik Pekeler was satisfied: "Today a lot went very well. We used the time well to refresh the basics and thus be fully there in the final spurt of the season."

Kiel uses dropouts

The team from Kiel successfully took revenge for the 23:36 in the first half of the season and caused great frustration for their rivals, who recently lost two more title chances in the cup semifinals and in the quarterfinals of the European League. "It feels like shit," admitted SG coach Maik Machulla. And director Jim Gottfridsson admitted: "Three defeats within a few days - that's brutal and extremely painful."

Flensburg got off to a good start in front of national coach Alfred Gislason and were not impressed by Kiel's rapid 3-1 lead. Towards the end of the first half, however, the SG fell back into old patterns, made too many misses and lost the ball.

Kiel mercilessly exploited the dropouts of the northern rival. With a 5:0 run, THW pulled away from 7:7 (20th) to 12:7 (30th). While Flensburg remained without a goal for ten minutes, Nikola Bilyk alone scored three times for the hosts in this phase. The Austrian was the best THW thrower with seven goals. The guests also started the second period with a five-minute goal drought, which decided the game early.

After the final whistle, Kiel's captain Domagoj Duvnjak spoke of a "great day" for THW and its supporters. But the 34-year-old Croatian didn't get tired of emphasizing on the way to his 23rd championship: "We still have eight tough games to play. We'll enjoy the evening, but we have to stay focused."

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