Youngster Juri Knorr and goalkeeper veteran Andreas Wolff swore the German handball players with pithy words to the fight for the first World Cup medal since the gold triumph 16 years ago.
"We dreamed of this game," said Knorr before the classic against Olympic champions and record champions France in the quarterfinals on Wednesday (8:30 p.m. / ZDF). "I can promise that we will perform there again with a completely different energy. It may sound martial, but we have to play for our lives because of course we want to get through."
On Tuesday morning, right after breakfast, the DHB entourage set off from Katowice to Kraków, from where they continued on to Gdansk by plane. There Wolff expects "brutal 60 minutes of battle and emotion" in a duel with the six-time world champion.
"Hardest Possible Opponents"
However, that doesn't deter Alfred Gislason's protégés any more than the class of the rivals, about whom the national coach judged: "In my opinion, that's the toughest possible opponent. They're super cast, outstanding in width. We have to have an outstanding game do to have a chance."
Still want Wolff
That was not the case with the 26:28 in the last main round game against Norway, in which almost seven million TV viewers cheered. "That was our weakest game. In the first half the defense was far too permeable, in the second half we missed far too many balls," summed up captain Johannes Golla.
This should not happen again to the young and largely inexperienced German team. "I think it was the right time for a little setback, so that you realize that this is not a sure-fire success," said Wolff. "Now it's time to wipe your mouth and do better to get back on track with a win."
Strong support Wolff
In the first defeat of the finals in Poland and Sweden, the 31-year-old again presented himself as a strong support, which will also be important against the French, who are top-class players such as Dika Mem, Kentin Mahe and Nikola Karabtic. "We're playing against one of the best teams in the world, so we have to be more focused, ripped off and more relaxed. Then we also have a chance of winning," said Wolff.
The veteran should nail the box, Knorr should set the accents in attack. The 22-year-old has played well at his second World Cup so far and is the preparer and executor in one person. This also makes experts like Markus Baur, who conducted the German game at the 2007 World Cup triumph, enthusiastic.
"He has a lot of individual quality. He's a complete player who sees a lot of things on the field and always tries to get the maximum out of it. He has a good sense of situations. He's dangerous in front of goal, sets his opponents in the limelight well and plays excellently with the district," said the 52-year-old in an interview with "Handball Week" and attested Knorr "world class".
Wolff is also impressed by the performances of the youngest in the team, although they do not surprise him. "I'm not surprised about Juri. He has often shown what huge potential he has. He has what it takes to become a big one," said the class keeper.
Knorr - with 37 goals the best German thrower in the tournament so far - the joy of the game is clearly noticeable. His motto: "I try to do my job. When I feel good, of course I want to take responsibility, make good use of the time on the record, have fun and just be myself."
So far he has succeeded impressively. And Knorr's individual skills will also be important against France. "It's probably the biggest game of my career," said the backcourt player from Bundesliga club Rhein-Neckar Löwen.
From his point of view, the fact that the German team is going into the game as outsiders does not mean that they have no chance. "I'm sure we'll show a different face and give it our all. Many of us haven't had a chance to play for medals on the World Cup stage," said Knorr and promised: "We'll be there. "
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