Preparation course: Handball players get into the European Championship mood

At a convivial cooking evening shortly before New Year's Eve, Germany's handball players got in the mood for the home European Championships in January.

Preparation course: Handball players get into the European Championship mood

At a convivial cooking evening shortly before New Year's Eve, Germany's handball players got in the mood for the home European Championships in January.

“We made a nice goulash, cooked fish, Swabian spaetzle and soups. That was openly accepted by everyone,” reported DHB sports director Axel Kromer at the end of the first European Championship preparation course in Frankfurt am Main.

Kromer described the three-day event, which primarily strengthened the team spirit, as “profitable, both in terms of sport and in the interpersonal area,” not just because of the culinary enjoyment.

National coach Alfred Gislason was also impressed by the atmosphere in the team. "I'm very happy with the last few days. They were very valuable for us. It was an important and good measure and nice to see how the players interact with each other on completely different topics," said the 64-year-old Icelander and added with a smile added: "It turns out that one or the other is also a good cook. I didn't help, but I ate everything."

Michalczik is out injured

But there was also a downer. Backcourt player Marian Michalczik suffered a muscle injury in his leg and will be out of the finals from January 10th to 28th. There are currently no plans to re-nominate the 26-year-old from Bundesliga club TSV Hannover-Burgdorf. "The injury is more serious than we initially thought. His loss is very bitter," said Gislason. "He was an important alternative in the inner block. We will try to solve this internally."

After a certainly not extravagant New Year's Eve party, Gislason gathered 18 players on New Year's Day for the final preparatory course in tranquil Brunsbüttel. Away from the big hustle and bustle that awaits the DHB selection in the final round, the national coach wants to work on the finishing touches with the team in the small town in Schleswig-Holstein at the mouth of the Kiel Canal and the Elbe.

"We deliberately chose something quieter before the loud European Championship days. We didn't want to go to a city center where there is always action, but rather something rural. There we can concentrate on preparing for the tournament," said Kromer, explaining the choice of training location.

Test games before the European Championships

In addition, the distances to the venues of the last two international test matches against Portugal on January 4th in Flensburg and January 6th in Kiel are short. Then the team should come to EM operating temperature. "Portugal is a very good and strong team that will really challenge us," said Gislason. He doesn't want to try out much anymore: "It's not about giving all players the same playing time. Of course we want to win these games."

On January 10th, things will get serious for the German team in the opening game of the European Championship against Switzerland in front of a world record crowd of over 50,000 fans in Düsseldorf. Since only the first two in each group reach the main round, this is a key duel. “We know how important the first game against a difficult opponent is,” Gislason emphasized the importance.

Finally, in Group A, alongside outsiders North Macedonia, there is also record world champion France, against whom the DHB team clearly lost in the quarter-finals at the World Cup at the beginning of the year. “We have to get into the tournament well and then improve from game to game,” said Gislason, setting out the route. The national coach will then also have to consider his future: After the European Championships, he wants to talk to the DHB about extending his contract, which expires in summer 2024 at the latest, until the home World Cup in 2027.

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