The unusual position in midfield didn't suit Andreas Wolff at all. When Germany's handball players started the day with a short soccer game in the morning, the national goalkeeper miserably missed his first big chance.
“Very strong, Andi,” mocked teammate David Späth. Rune Dahmke was much more confident on the ball and put the ball in the goal in the best center forward style. “As the games increase, Team Young gets closer and closer, but Team Old is a bit better,” reported EM newcomer Martin Hanne.
Then the DHB selection swapped the large leather for the resinous small handball. The world record game at the start of the European Championship against Switzerland still resonates. With a win in the second preliminary round game against North Macedonia, national coach Alfred Gislason's team can complete their early entry into the main round on Sunday (8.30 p.m./ZDF and Dyn) and further increase handball fever in the country.
Carried by euphoria
The players can already feel the tingling atmosphere. "During the walk we saw children who wanted to take photos. The walk wasn't long and yet three or four groups came towards us," reported Hanne and said: "The euphoria is really amazing. It sustains us." The question is: how far?
The convincing performance against Switzerland not only earned Germany's handball players respect from the competition. The 27:14 gave fans, players and the coaching team hope for the next winter fairy tale - even if the team officially only has the next game in mind. “We look from game to game,” said Christoph Steinert, using the popular athlete phrase. Just don't put too much pressure. Accordingly, the national players pointed out like a prayer wheel that they did not expect “a sure-fire success” against North Macedonia.
"It's a final for North Macedonia. They come with passion and emotion. We have to counter that," demanded Dahmke. The Bundesliga professional from THW Kiel does not expect a game like the one against Switzerland, in which Germany was virtually the winner after the first half. "It's possible that you still don't have a clear lead in the 50th minute, so we have to keep calm," the left winger appealed to his team.
Demand: Provide clarity quickly
DHB sports director Axel Kromer demanded maximum concentration and wanted the game to be similar to the furious opening success. "We have to maintain consistency in the end. If we make good use of our chances, we might be able to get some peace in the first half," said the 47-year-old.
The DHB selection is preparing for a 60-minute fight. The young team, peppered with four U21 world champions and one debutant, may have to do without oldie Kai Häfner. "He became a father for the second time on Friday evening. His son was born. He is doing well. We now have to vote on whether he will be used in the game on Sunday. He can come here, but whether we ask that of him is the question," said Kromer.
Hanne is looking forward to his teammate's return. "When he comes back, he can play dad for us again," said the 22-year-old from TSV Hannover-Burgdorf and hoped for a baby boost: "Such positive news might bring the team together a little more." .
A very special noble fan should also provide further motivation against North Macedonia. After Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier watched the opening game live in the Düsseldorf football arena, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) announced his arrival. "Seeing these people fills you with pride. I'm happy to see this personality. Otherwise you only know him from TV," said Hanne. If the DHB team continues to play so successfully, the list of prominent guests over the course of the tournament is likely to grow even longer.