National coach Gislason calls for “the best performance in recent decades.” This is the only way a German handball miracle is possible in the European Championship semi-finals against the overwhelming power of Denmark. How big will the Cologne factor be?
Before the duel with the overpowering Danes, Germany’s handball players asked for divine assistance. “Maybe there’s someone up there who will take special care of us on Friday,” said left winger Rune Dahmke, looking pleadingly at the concrete ceiling of the Cologne Arena catacombs. When the national player was back to himself after his short detour into another sphere, he added hopefully: “If you have a chance of a miracle anywhere, it’s in Cologne.”
The roles before the German European Championship semi-final against the Scandinavian top team this Friday (8.30 p.m./ZDF and Dyn) are clearly assigned. Denmark is Olympic runner-up, world champion, third-placed at the European Championships and the absolute top favorite for the title. The German team, which is only just making its way back to the top of the world, appears comparatively inexperienced and has less individual quality, especially across the board.
Germany with a perfect starting position
And yet: The German players believe in themselves and their chance. “It’s the best thing in the world to be able to play a semi-final in front of our fans,” said playmaker Juri Knorr and demanded maximum effort: “We need a special day, lots of handball ingredients as well as courage and mentality. We can’t appear with fear. “
Dahmke assessed the initial situation similarly. “You have a semi-final at home in front of a sold-out crowd. And yet you don’t have the pressure on your side. That’s something special. That we can say against the best team in the world: “We’ll throw everything in and see what comes out of it.” “It’s an incomparable situation,” said the veteran.
The German team is hot. Youngster and U21 world champion Justus Fischer demanded a certain “hotness for the game” from all his teammates. Captain Johannes Golla promised a different face than the sobering 24:30 in the final main round game against Croatia. What the entire DHB selection is sure of: The handball miracle can only succeed with the magic of the spectators.
DHB team relies on the fans
Knorr therefore launched a pleading appeal to the approximately 20,000 spectators who should turn the sold-out arena into a cauldron. “The fans are a huge factor. It’s been gigantic so far, but we need even more. We need twice as much,” demanded Germany’s playmaker and added: “Everyone has to scream for us. Every single person has to scream for us and whip us forward. ” Just like 17 years ago, when the fans carried the DHB team to the World Cup title in Cologne.
A mammoth task awaits national coach Alfred Gislason before kick-off. How do you prepare your players for a team that actually has no weaknesses? “I wish they had weaknesses. I’m glad that I’m not a coach and have to prepare the boys for the Danes,” said goalkeeper Andreas Wolff, shaking his teammates awake: “Everyone has to surpass themselves. The Danes are the non- Plus-Ultra in international handball.”
Lichtlein: We win one out of ten games
The respect for this superior team from the north is huge. But fear is not spreading among the German ranks. “It’s no secret that the Danes play the most beautiful, best and most effective handball. But it will be a great challenge. They should first show how good they are,” said backcourt player Philipp Weber aggressively.
The meaningless slap against Croatia does not stop the German handball players from dreaming of a European Championship coup against the Scandinavian top team. “We win one out of ten games. Nobody knows when this one game will be,” said young star Nils Lichtlein. Gislason is sure: “We need the best performance in recent decades to have a chance against Denmark. We’re hoping for a great day.”
DHB professionals have to “keep an eye on it”
In order to have a magical day, a lot has to happen, especially in the attacking game. The exploitation of chances is the big shortcoming in the German game at this home European Championship. And one thing is clear: a team like Denmark doesn’t forgive missed throws. “We simply have to find our shots more consistently in attack and then throw with an eye and not just shoot at them blindly,” demanded pivot Fischer. Weber criticized the lack of cool-headedness “to put the thing past the goalkeeper.”
No matter whether in goal, in defense or in attack – the DHB team needs maximum performance in all positions. “If you’re not ready now, you’re in the wrong place,” said Golla, who is also hoping for input from the 2016 European Championship winners. Wolff, Dahmke, Jannik Kohlbacher and Kai Häfner were already there during the gold rush in Poland. “If you go to the semifinals, the tournament is not over,” Golla said. “We want to gild this dream here.”
I am Pierce Boyd, a driven and ambitious professional working in the news industry. I have been writing for 24 Hours Worlds for over five years, specializing in sports section coverage. During my tenure at the publication, I have built an impressive portfolio of articles that has earned me a reputation as an experienced journalist and content creator.