Germany’s handball players completed a successful dress rehearsal and won the last test match before the home European Championships.

The DHB selection beat outsiders Portugal 35:31 (20:15) in the Kiel Handball Arena and gained self-confidence for the European Championship opener on Wednesday against Switzerland. In front of 9,113 spectators, Juri Knorr was the best German thrower with six goals. National coach Alfred Gislason’s team had already won the first duel with the southern Europeans on Thursday.

However, the euphoria is dampened by Patrick Groetzki’s injury. The 34-year-old veteran injured his foot and missed the European Championships. “An initial radiological examination showed that the old foot injury, which had kept Groetzki out of action until the beginning of December, has recurred and is therefore leading to the exit from the European Championships for the Rhein-Neckar Löwen national player,” said the DHB.

The DHB entourage therefore moved on to North Rhine-Westphalia without Groetzki and only 17 men, where they will open their medal mission on Wednesday in the Düsseldorf football arena in front of 53,000 fans. Other opponents in the preliminary round are North Macedonia and France. Germany is not one of the favorites for the winter climax in their own country, but is dreaming of the semi-finals.

“Bitter diagnosis” for Groetzki

National coach Alfred Gislason shuffled his starting lineup compared to the first duel with the Portuguese. In addition to Renars Uscins, Groetzki should also gain match practice for the winter highlight in his own country.

After around 23 minutes the game was over for Groetzki. The oldest member of the German squad was injured without any intervention from an opponent and limped off the pitch. With a pained expression on his face, he iced his foot and buried his face in the towel. “First and foremost, this is an extremely bitter diagnosis for Patrick, which of course also hits the national team and the Rhein-Neckar Löwen hard,” said DHB sports director Axel Kromer.

More aggressive in defense

Both teams played on equal terms for the first few minutes. The German assets included left winger Lukas Mertens and backcourt player Julian Köster, both of whom posed a huge goal threat. However, the DHB team lacked intensity in defense and the outsiders took advantage of the gaps. After ten minutes, Portugal took the lead for the first time (7:6).

As a result, Gislason changed the inside block and brought young hopefuls Justus Fischer and Sebastian Heymann into the game. “Very good in attack and we are now more aggressive in defense,” praised Gislason during the first timeout. Portugal now scored significantly less often and Andi Wolff underlined his world class with his first saves. The German seven didn’t let Groetzki’s injury unsettle them and pulled ahead to 20:15.

Lichtlein gets playing minutes

After the break, Gislason brought new strength and the U21 world champions Nils Lichtlein and David Späth in goal as well as veteran Kai Häfner gained match practice. From a German perspective, the changes did not harm the course of the game and the DHB team extended its lead to seven goals (27:21).

Germany was now playing itself into a frenzy. The Kiel fans rose from their seats and celebrated the appearance of their European Championship hopefuls, the La Ola splashed through the arena for the first time.

Technical errors creep in

When everything looked like a confident victory, Germany’s handball players suffered a little slack. In attack, Timo Kastening and Co. made too many technical errors and the lead shrank from seven to three goals. Gislason took a time out and sent leading figure and playmaker Knorr back onto the field. Germany continued to struggle, but deserved to win in the end.