A huge handball farce
Germany’s absurd EM fight
01/21/2022, 07:21 am
Only one day after the rather hefty defeat against Spain, the German national handball team has to master the next challenge in this chaos European championship. However, the preparation for the duel with Norway is anything but normal.
Actually, no one should have been surprised in Bratislava, because Germany’s best handball players have been very familiar with spontaneous personnel changes for a few days at the European Championship. A massive corona outbreak forces the team to make changes almost every day. Regulars have to be in isolation, substitutes without training on the field. This is all very absurd and has repeatedly raised the question: does it all really make sense? The German Handball Federation (DHB) has given the answer for the time being and has waived a voluntary and early withdrawal. Probably also because the world association threatens massive penalties.
So what now? Go ahead and try somehow to make this tournament a happy ending. How exactly is that defined? Not clear. The first thing is probably to get players through the European Championship without further infections and to hope that the infected get through their quarantine period well (which applies to all nations, no matter how hard they are hit). There was a very bizarre manifestation of the personnel chaos in the national team, which can hardly be overlooked, on Thursday evening. Suddenly Christoph Steinert sprinted into the hall and reported healthy for the duel with Spain, which after a strong first half was clearly lost with 23:29.
“In the hour before the game I suddenly had all the feelings in the world at the same time,” reported the experienced backcourt player from Bundesliga club HC Erlangen after the first main round game on ARD and spoke of “huge chaos”. The 32-year-old was one of those players who had recently tested positive for the corona virus. An incorrect result. “I got a call that I’m a false positive.” The three tests that were done afterwards were all negative.
Most of the equipment not included
“Then I picked up everything I found in my room. I put on a pair of pants and started sprinting,” said Steinert. However, he did not have most of his equipment with him because he was not allowed to enter the team room. Steinert, who failed to score against Spain but had some nice moves, only arrived indoors when the German team was already warming up. “That was a bit crazy,” said his team-mate Julian Köster.
The story of the game is quickly told: In the end, the DHB team in Bratislava was clearly inferior to defending champion Spain, despite a committed and courageous performance for 30 minutes. A weak phase with a crazy 15 minutes (!) without a hit was the broken neck. A 7-0 run was decisive, and when the score was 12:19 (39 th ) the game was essentially over. “We got a lesson today, especially in the second half. The Spaniards punished us extremely,” judged Julian Köster. Even the top talent, who was so outstanding against Poland, had a lot of trouble in attack and hardly any strong situations. Playmaker Philipp Weber admitted: “That’s a real damper.”
However, there is no time for quarreling and scolding. Already in the evening it is against Norway for the Kiel star player Sander Sagosen (from 8.30 p.m. on ZDF and in the live ticker on ntv.de), against another top nation in world handball. Coach Alfred Gislason will have to improvise a lot again to prepare his players for this task. “How should we prepare something? The coach will send us videos that everyone will watch. It sounds absurd, but there’s not much we can do. However, I have hope that Norway suits us better than the Spaniards and we win the game “, said goalkeeper Johannes Bitter, who could hardly help his team and could rarely shine against the throws of the opponent. Also a reason for the gossip.
Hardly any contact between the players
Players will be isolated again after the games. Personal encounters are only on the way to the buffet. Meals are eaten alone in the rooms again, as Rune Dahmke reports. In order to minimize the risk as much as possible, handball players wear masks on the bench during games. After eleven corona failures, the DHB entourage tightened the safety precautions again. This shows the first successes: On Thursday there was no new case in the team. And there is even hope that backcourt player Julius Kühn can return from quarantine today and maybe play again.
If all of this wasn’t absurd enough, the team would encourage their ambitions in the chaos. “Everything is still possible,” said the national coach after the Spain defeat, the only one in the tournament so far. If the medal dream is to live on, the error rate must be significantly lower, especially in attack. “We know very well that Norway is doable with a good performance,” said goalkeeper Johannes Bitter. “It just wasn’t possible today”. The 2007 world champion knows: The chance of reaching the semi-finals is still there with 2:2 points…