Suddenly he just hung in the air. Basically, Philipp Weber wanted to force a breakthrough with a deception to the left, but was then not only stopped by his opponent, but immediately lifted.
And somehow this situation was symbolic for the entire game, in which the German handball players started almost winged, but were ultimately rudely slowed down in their flight. In the quarter-finals of the world championships in Gdansk, Weber and Co. had to admit defeat against the French by 28:35 (16:16).
The start could hardly have gone better. Kai Häfner scored a goal after a breakthrough in the first attack, Juri Knorr quickly extended the lead to three goals, the DHB selection forced their opponent to make unusual mistakes and was able to counterattack as a result. 0:1, 4:7, 7:11 – the first quarter of an hour went just as the Germans had hoped beforehand.
France found itself after an early break
But then came what makes top teams. France found themselves after an early break and equalized within a very short time. Not least because the German offensive once again allowed itself to be inaccurate. Because a pass didn’t arrive, because the throw was taken too early, because the initial high-altitude flight may have turned self-confidence into exuberance in some places.
But there was always Andreas Wolff in goal. And he was able to point to ten saved balls at the break, and together with a seven-meter save by his partner Joel Birlehm, surpassed the French duo in goal by a wide margin.
In this respect, things initially remained exciting on the north Polish coast. So exciting that it was a bit sad that the support in the stands was largely absent. Little could be heard from the fans who had arrived, who only filled the 11,400-seat arena to half, and the chants were often lost in the hall acoustics.
And it was similar in the first quarterfinals at the same place. It was actually much closer then, the Spaniards only being able to beat Norway 36:34 after two extra hours – not least because goalkeeper Gonzalo Perez de Vargas played an important role in the crucial phase.
The Danes, on the other hand, made it less exciting about 550 kilometers away as the crow flies. In Stockholm, coach Nikolaj Jacobsen’s team underscored their ambitions from the start of wanting to complete the treble after winning two world championships in a row. In the end there was a clear 40:23 against Hungary. At the same place, the next participant in the semi-finals was identified, co-hosts Sweden prevailed against the Egyptians with 26:22.
At the same time, the German handball players had increasing problems. Since the DHB selection made more and more mistakes, the attack series did not score a hit for eight minutes. Andreas Wolff got fewer and fewer balls, while his opponent Remi Desbonnet provided important impetus. After a good 50 minutes of play, the deficit was already five goals, France increasingly used their experience and ultimately secured victory and thus the semifinals against the co-hosts.
Meanwhile, the German handball players are also allowed to travel to the Swedish capital, but only play the placement games here. But maybe it’s enough at least for a positive tournament conclusion.