After their gala performance, the German handball players jumped around and celebrated their confident group victory to the party song “Celebration”. Thanks to an outstanding defensive performance, the DHB team defeated their opponents Poland 33:17 (19:10) in Herning, Denmark on Monday and moved into the main round with maximum points. The best German thrower was co-captain Alina Grijseels with seven hits.

“I’m very happy because we defended very actively from the start. That was the key to success,” praised national coach Markus Gaugisch and was impressed by the few goals conceded. “We were also able to make changes there. Small adjustments that took effect immediately. I think that was a really great achievement.”

In the second phase of the tournament, national coach Markus Gaugisch’s team will face Denmark, Romania and probably Serbia in a group of six. The first main round duel for the German squad is on Thursday. The teams take their points from the preliminary round with them. The best two in the group then qualify for the quarter-finals.

The Germans had previously suspected that the Poles would be the first real World Cup endurance test for the Gaugisch team. After the opening games against two unorthodox teams from Asia, the style of play of the Eastern Europeans was familiar. Straightforward, physical and with a lot of speed. “Retreat will be the key,” circle runner Julia Behnke announced and warned about the fast wing players and big backcourt players.

The German defensive players were correspondingly aggressive in the one-on-one duels. The defensive block stood. Grijseels and Co. blocked the passing lanes well and put massive pressure on the Poles, who took a time-out after just eleven minutes and a four-goal deficit.

How transformed

1,800 spectators saw an extremely physical game. Ten minutes before the break, Germany were twice outnumbered after two fouls. But thanks to two goals from Xenia Smits and a save from goalkeeper Katharina Filter, the DHB team survived this phase unscathed. Suddenly everything worked and Germany extended their lead to ten goals (19:9).

Compared to the opening games, the Germans seemed transformed. The emotions released additional reserves of strength. Highly concentrated DHB players made almost no technical errors. In the first ten minutes after the break, co-captain Emily Bölk’s team only conceded one goal, but scored seven times themselves.

The Polish attack was completely eliminated and the game was decided long ago with a 17-goal lead. Encouraged by the improvement in performance of her teammates, keeper Filter also played her best game to date at this World Cup in Sweden, Denmark and Norway. With a lot of self-confidence, the DHB team can now start the main round as one of the favorites for the quarter-finals.