With a particularly strong defensive performance, Germany’s handball players secured fifth place at the World Cup against Norway on Sunday (01/29/2023). The DHB team won 28:24 (16:13) and thus took revenge for the defeat in the main round against the Norwegians.
National coach Alfred Gislason had dispensed with Philipp Weber and defense specialist Simon Ernst for his squad and instead brought Djibril M’Bengue back into the squad and also gave Tim Zechel, who was subsequently nominated, his first game at a World Cup. From the start, Gislason relied on Lukas Mertens, Julian Köster, Juri Knorr, Christoph Steinert, Lukas Zerbe, Johannes Golla and Andreas Wolff in goal.
Germany’s seven-meter killer Andreas Wolff
After a pass from Knorr, Golla made it 1-0 in the first attack. It was a balanced initial phase, in which the DHB team had to struggle primarily with the pace of the Norwegians, who pressed the accelerator directly even after conceding a goal. Against the bound attack of the Scandinavians, however, things went better for the German defense, and a wide awake Wolff in goal also contributed to this. After a quarter of an hour he parried a seven-metre throw, Germany led 8:5.
Both coaches then began to switch a little. This initially led to a higher number of mistakes in the German attack, but Wolff kept two more seven meters and the DHB selection well in the game. In this phase, Knorr’s substitute Luca Witzke scored reliably at the front and showed a strong performance. The 16:13 at the break was well deserved.
Great defensive work by the Germans after the break
Germany came out of the break with a lot of momentum and worked self-sacrificingly, especially in defence, so the spaces for the Norwegians were extremely tight and Wolff made a few “easier” saves. At 19:14, the DHB team pulled away to 21:15, Norway’s coach Jonas Wille felt compelled to take a break after a good 40 minutes.
And in fact it seemed as if the German team would lose ground again in the final phase, as they had in the last three matches against Norway, France and Egypt. Clear chances were missed, Patrick Groetzki, for example, failed twice completely free and at 23:20 Norway was suddenly in close contact again.
Strong Kai Häfner makes everything clear against Norway
Gislason consequently took a timeout, but his team looked exhausted and could thank Wolff: Magnus Rod had the chance to shorten the gap again at 26:23 four minutes before the final whistle, but found his master in the German keeper. Two minutes before the end of the game, the DHB team was still only 26:24 ahead, it got tingly again.
Kai Häfner, who was really strong in the second half, finally heaved the ball into the net with the threat of time wasting – 27:24. All the more remarkable: Häfner had injured himself a few minutes earlier, but according to Gislason he really wanted to play again in the final phase. The veteran may even have broken his collarbone, the national coach explained on ZDF. In any case, Häfner’s goal was the decisive factor.