Despite their first tournament defeat, Germany’s handball players were able to laugh again just a few seconds after the final whistle. In the 28:30 (13:15) against title contender Denmark, the DHB selection missed a surprise victory, but continued to gain self-confidence in the hunt for their first World Cup medal in 16 years.

National coach Markus Gauguisch’s team will continue this in the quarter-finals on Wednesday against Sweden, who finished fourth in the Olympics. “It’s a shame that we couldn’t reward ourselves for a performance with strong character. We were very close and never gave up. We’re taking a lot of good things with us. Now the full focus is on the game against Sweden,” said Gaugisch and added: “We’re leaving “We’re going into the game with a lot of tailwind. The players will continue to believe in themselves. We know what’s coming, but we want to turn things around.”

However, his team has to improve a bit to achieve this. “Of course they have great quality. We won one game. But we also saw that they can shoot us in ten minutes,” the coach said about the two meetings with the three-crown team immediately before the tournament.

In the duel with European Championship runners-up Denmark, who were loudly supported by their home fans, co-captain Emily Bölk was the best German thrower with five goals in Herning on Monday. “We have found good solutions,” summed up Gaugisch, who did not want to speak of a setback. “We had them on the verge of defeat and we don’t need to look for negatives.”

Against a shrill concert of whistles

After advancing to the quarter-finals early and securing a ticket for the Olympic qualification tournament, the DHB selection started the game with a lot of self-confidence in front of around 10,000 spectators. Also because playmaker Alina Grijseels was fit again after her bruised thigh. “Don’t be shy” was the brief for the match against the robust one-on-one players from the neighboring country.

The DHB team was just as unintimidated by the strong Danish goalkeeper team as they were by the shrill whistle concert of the white and red masses. Thanks to three goals from pivot Julia Behnke, the outsider got off to a good start. Germany survived even being twice outnumbered unscathed. The fact that the Gaugisch team still fell behind was also due to three missed seven meters.

Lifters create a mood

After Grijseels and Mareike Thomaier each missed, Bölk tried her luck from the spot – and equalized to 13:13 five minutes before the break. The DHB selection repeatedly created opportunities, especially in the district. Two notable lifts from the European Championship runner-up brought the mood back in the stands.

Immediately after the break, the DHB team acted too unfocused and made several technical errors within a few minutes. The World Cup third place took advantage of the opponents’ weak phase and pulled ahead by four goals (16:20). What also proved fatal for the German team was that Bölk had already received two time penalties at this point and no longer went into the duels with the necessary rigor.

Döll with a chance to equalize

The Danes now took control of the game. The defense was more compact and there were gaps in the German defense. But led by leading player Bölk, the DHB selection didn’t give up and stayed in the game thanks to saves from goalkeeper Katharina Filter. Antje Döll had the chance to equalize nine minutes before the end – but the turnaround was no longer successful.