Holey defence, harmless attack: Ten months before the start of the European Championship at home, Germany’s handball players suffered a strong mood dampener in the bitter 23:30 (11:16) defeat against world champion Denmark.

In the duel with the three-time champion, the team of national coach Alfred Gislason could not build on the sometimes convincing World Cup appearances and revealed considerable deficits. In front of 4644 spectators in Aalborg, Juri Knorr was the best German thrower with five goals.

Danes surprise German defensive

At the first appearance after the respectable fifth place at the World Cup, the DHB selection had to do without the sick backcourt player Julian Köster. The 22-year-old was mainly missing in defence, which was rarely accessed. The German defense was often overwhelmed against the pace of play by the Danes, who were missing numerous stars such as goalkeeper Niklas Landin, director Rasmus Lauge and captain Mikkel Hansen.

After a good twelve minutes, the DHB team was already five goals behind at 5:10. Gislason responded with a time out in which to shake up his charges. “Guys, we’re not fully there. That’s not enough,” criticized the national coach.

Poor chance conversion

But things didn’t go well in attack either. Knorr, who had shone with tricks and goals at the World Cup, could hardly provide impetus and also missed two seven meters in the first half. Ten minutes before the break, Gislason took the young German star off the floor from Bundesliga leaders Rhein-Neckar Löwen. Marian Michalczik, who had subsequently slipped into the squad for the injured Luca Witzke, came on for Knorr.

But that didn’t change the weak throwing rate. Even the clearest chances were missed and only 44 percent of attacks in the first half were successfully completed, which was also due to the strong Landin representative Emil Nielsen in the Danish goal. “It took us a long time at the back to get some access and we often failed at the front because of the good Danish goalkeeper,” said DHB sports director Axel Kromer at half-time.

Wolff prevents debacle

Luckily, goalkeeper Andreas Wolff was in good form, just like he was at the World Cup. The 31-year-old saved seven throws before the break, including two seven-metre throws, and thus kept the deficit within limits. “We have to act with more courage and trust to come close again,” Kromer demanded.

But nothing came of it. On the contrary: Eight minutes after the change, the deficit was already eight goals at 13:21, in the middle of the second half it was even eleven at 17:28. Only in the final phase, when the Danes took things a little easier, could the result be made a little more bearable.