A heavy blow instead of a tailwind for the knockout round: Germany's women's handball team suffered a heavy defeat at the end of the main round of the World Cup and will now have to face host Spain in the quarterfinals. The DHB team lost in front of 800 spectators on Sunday evening against Denmark with 16:32 (8:13) and was shown their limits for the first time in the tournament.
With 8:2 points, the team of national coach Henk Groener finished the main round group III as second behind the Danes (10:0). In the fight for a place in the semifinals, a significant improvement will be needed against the 2019 World Cup runners-up next Tuesday to keep the fragile dream of a first medal since 2007 alive. The best German thrower in the duel with three-time Olympic champion Denmark was back-row player Alina Grijseels with six goals.
"We didn't find our game at all in attack from the first minute," Groener explained, "We were far too anxious, had too much respect for the opponent." With looking ahead to the upcoming knockout game, he said it was clear: "We have to perform differently there."
Unlike in the previous five tournament games, the German team was not up to speed with the kickoff. Missed shots and technical errors in attack and gaps in defense were responsible for a quick 0:4 deficit after seven minutes. Only goalkeeper Dinah Eckerle was immediately at operating temperature and prevented worse with several saves.
The first goal was scored by the DHB team after 9:30 minutes when Grijseels successfully completed a quick counterattack. However, this was not the initial spark that had been hoped for. The German women were hardly able to make an impact against the aggressive Danish cover - and if they did, they mostly failed due to the strong Althea Reinhardt in the Scandinavian goal.
The game was over early at 3:10 after 20 minutes, especially since backcourt player Mia Zschocke saw red a little later for a hard foul on her opponent. However, she will be allowed to play again in the quarterfinals. It was not until the final phase of the first half that the DHB team got into the game a little better and at least came within five goals by the break.
However, any hope of catching up after the change was already gone after seven minutes at 9:19. Once again, Groener's charges sinned in all areas and made it easy for their well-performing opponents, who are among the medal candidates at the finals. As a result, the German team was unable to improve its performance and left the court as clear losers.
Image by Jeppe Smed Nielsen