Fourth game, third victory: The German handball players win against Argentina and convince above all with fighting spirit. Now it’s all about winning the group.
Often lacked the playful line: Patrick Groetzki in attack. Picture: reuters
After the hard fight, the first thing was to high-five with the fans: The DHB team has entered the round of 16 at the World Championship in Qatar undefeated. One matchday before the end of the preliminary round, the team of national coach Dagur Sigurdsson fought its way to a 28:23 (13:14) work victory against Argentina in Doha on Thursday.
The Icelander clenched his fist in victory after Patrick Groetzki scored the seventh goal of the game, after his team had gone through a rollercoaster of emotions in front of a crowd of around 3,750 at the Lusail Multipurpose Hall. "It may be that the greater will prevailed, but also the greater routine and a bit more experience among the players. Our guys play in the Bundesliga and the games are often very close there," said the Icelander.
Success in Saturday’s final preliminary round match against underdog Saudi Arabia would see the underdogs advance to the knockout round of the World Cup as Group D winners. "I have to take my hat off to the guys. It was a really tough game, physically and also for the head. We played really well and are doing a super tournament," Sigurdsson told broadcaster Sky.
The Argentines held on until the final stages thanks to their unpleasant style of play. "It was important not to lose our heads in such a small war," the national coach said. "It was a very tough game. There were a lot of two-minute penalties," said playmaker Michael Kraus. "I didn’t expect such a confident performance from the team, not even the performance of some of the players," praised former national coach Heiner Brand.
Playerly line lost
While the German team had to fight through an exhausting and intense 30:30 against World Cup runner-up Denmark two days earlier, the Pan American champions came to an easy 32:20 victory against group exotic Saudi Arabia. Michael Kraus had great respect for Argentina’s goalkeeper Matias Schulz, who once played for second-division club Dessauer HV. "He makes such unorthodox actions as Silvio Heinevetter," said the Frisch Auf Goppingen playmaker.
But it was not the two protagonists who made life difficult for the German team, but primarily they themselves. In the fourth game of the tournament, the team lost its previously successful line of play for the first time. There was a lot of disorganization in the attack. In defense, the players around captain Uwe Gensheimer had great problems with the agile and uncompromising Argentines, who repeatedly tried to provoke fouls. Steffen Weinhold, for example, was already charged with two time penalties after 14 minutes. The Kiel player was therefore threatened with disqualification and was only used in attack.
Nevertheless, there was almost no fluid combination play. Although the German team led 7:5 (12th), also thanks to great saves by goalkeeper Carsten Lichtlein, it conceded three goals in a row to make it 7:8 (17th). The subsequent 10:8 lead (22.) did not bring the desired security.
On the contrary, the DHB team fell behind 12:14 (27) shortly before the break before Weinhold scored to make it 13:14 at the break. Captain Uwe Gensheimer left the pitch after the interval siren, heading for the dressing room.
The picture did not change after the break. The German team gained a 17:15 lead (36th), but lost it again immediately. Then, however, the DHB team found the right defensive means against the Pan American champions and pulled away to 22:19 (46th), but could not take a breather against the never-surrendering Argentines until the final whistle.