Germany survive another scare to secure first place in Group I

26 Jun. 2023

Germany survive another scare to secure first place in Group I

The main round of the 24th IHF Men’s Junior World Championship concluded on Monday evening in Athens, Hanover and Magdeburg, with eight teams progressing to the quarter-finals.
Germany, Croatia, the Faroe Islands, Portugal, Hungary, Denmark, Iceland and Serbia are the eight sides who are still in the hunt for the big trophy, as four of them – Germany, the Faroe Islands, Hungary and Iceland – boast a five-game winning streak.
In Group I, Germany withstood another comeback against Croatia, sealing a 31:29 win. Denmark celebrated securing the second place in Group III with a clear win (28:22) over Bahrain.
From Group IV, Serbia secured their place among the top eight teams in the world with a clear 34:23 over co-hosts Greece, which will now be heading to the Placement Matches 9-16. With a 36:22 win over Brazil, Spain finished third in Group II, a disappointment for “Los Hispanos”, who lost against the Faroe Islands and Portugal.
Main Round

  • Group I

Croatia vs Germany 29:31 (12:15)
Were it not for goalkeeper Dominik Kuzmanović, who saved seven shots for a 38% saving efficiency in the first half, Croatia might have been backed seriously in a corner in the final match of the main round phase at Germany/Greece 2023, with Croatia’s goalkeeper creating saves out of thin air to keep Germany at bay.
On the other side of the ball, Germany’s goalkeeper Lasse Ludwig also stopped three shots in the first four minutes to keep his side in control of the game, with Germany taking a clear 10:6 lead after 19 minutes, as their defence worked out wonders.
Four minutes later, though, Michael Heuberger’s side scattered all their hard work, as Germany did not manage to score a goal for four minutes, with a 4:0 Croatia run tying the game back (10:10) and left wing Ivan Barbić leading the way with four goals.
Yet Germany still found something in their tank to run away with the lead at the break, left wing Tim Freihöfer being virtually unstoppable in the last seconds, as his six goals helped Germany take a healthy 15:12 lead at the break.
The scenario from Sunday’s game against France repeated itself for Germany. The co-hosts took a big lead, seven goals (27:19), only to see themselves put under pressure by a Croatia comeback, with a 4:0 run spurred by Tin Šestak and also by an aggressive seven-on-six tactic deployed by coach Andrija Nikolić, cutting the gap to only four goals (27:23).
Not even a well-taken timeout for Germany weathered the storm, as Croatia fought until the end to take something from the game, reducing the gap to a single goal (30:29) with 55 seconds to go.
Yet it was still not enough, as Germany kept their cool, scored through Elias Scholtes, and secured a 31:29 win, which was celebrated in the GETEC Arena in Magdeburg in the final match hosted in the German city at Germany/Greece 2023.
With five wins in as many games, Germany head to the quarter-finals with big ambitions, facing Denmark in the Max-Schmeling-Halle in Berlin with a place in the semi-finals on the line.
On the other hand, Croatia’s four-game winning streak has been snapped and they finished second in the group, with a game against Hungary looming in the quarter-finals, as they are looking to repeat their performance from Spain 2019, when they secured the silver medal.
hummel Player of the Match: Moritz Sauter (Germany)

  • Group II

Brazil vs Spain 22:36 (8:16)

After two straight defeats, Spain returned to a victorious path defeating Brazil. The two sides faced off in a clash for the third place in the group and a starting advantage in the Placement Matches 9-16. Both sides are now moving to Berlin, where they will play two more games before they end the IHF Men's Junior World Championship chapter.

Goalkeeper Roberto Domenech was the man of the moment in the first half as he propelled Spain to an eight-goal lead. Domenech had a 53% saving efficiency (9/17) and scored for an early lead. Brazil seemed to lack depth to win the game but, on the other hand, Spain were clear favourites in the match.

When Spain were in front by six (10:6), Brazil converted only 29% of shots. Only Caio VinĂ­cius De Souza Morais scored more than one goal, which says enough about their game in the first half. Spain didn't stress out as they easily cruised to a double-digit lead.

As Juan Carlos Sempere set the score at 25:13, it was clear there was little chance for Brazil's comeback. Until the end of the game, Spain rotated all 16 players on the court, with 13 of them scoring at least once while Daniel Martinez Jimenez joined Domenech with his three saves. Caio VinĂ­cius De Souza Morais remained the most efficient player in Brazil's rows, netting four times.

hummel Player of the Match: Roberto Domenech Calatayud (Spain)





  • Group III

Denmark vs Bahrain 28:22 (16:7)
Already through to the quarter-finals after Hungary’s win against Sweden a few hours earlier, Denmark celebrated another win, their fourth in five games at the 24th IHF Men’s Junior World Championship, outplaying Bahrain in the last game of Group III.
A 3:0 start, which prevented Bahrain from scoring for six minutes and two seconds, was enough to give Denmark the breathing space they needed to establish a pace in the game, with goalkeeper Mathias René Rex Dorgelo in a leading role, delivering an excellent game, with six saves for a 36% saving efficiency in the first half.
Without having to push the pedal, as no result would have changed their second place in the group, Denmark still opened a nine-goal gap at the break (16:7), as the number of turnovers piled up for the Asian side.
One of Bahrain’s top scorers in the competition, Mohamed Rabia, became the 10th player to score at least 30 goals at Germany/Greece 2023. Still, it was not quite enough to help his side mount a comeback, despite Denmark making changes throughout their roster to hand some rest to their key starters.
With the 28:22 win, Denmark will come to Berlin for the quarter-finals with a boost to their morale, preparing to face the winner from Group I. On the other hand, Bahrain finished on the fourth place in the group, but their objective has been met, qualifying for the main round, now facing Egypt in the Placement Matches 9-16.
hummel Player of the Match: Christian Termansen (Denmark)

  • Group IV

Serbia vs Greece 34:23 (15:12)

After a clear victory against co-hosts Greece, Serbia finished second in Group IV with four points and progressed to the quarter-finals, where they will face the Faroe Islands on Thursday. In turn, the Greeks ranked fourth in the group with no points and will proceed to the Placement Matches 9-16. 

The Serbs knew that even a draw would secure them a quarter-final spot, but Greece enjoyed a better start to the match. In the opening 20 minutes, they were constantly in the lead, albeit by one or two goals only. The Greek defence worked well, forcing the Serbs to make mistakes.

However, Serbia found their rhythm and showed their true quality after a while. Just like in the previous games, goalkeeper Luka Krivokapic did well, while Mateja Dodic scored six goals in the first half, as their team hit back to lead 15:12 at the break.

And in the second half, Serbia were dominant on the court. They opened the second half with a 6:1 run and did not relax their approach afterwards. Despite the squad rotation, the co-hosts looked physically and mentally exhausted, and Serbia had no problems clinching a win, as Dodic became their top scorer with eight goals. 

While the former Yugoslavia won seven medals at the IHF Junior World Championships, and Serbia and Montenegro became runners-up in 2005, Serbia as an independent nation reached the top eight for the first time in history, and they hope to go even further. 

hummel Player of the Match: Milos Kos (Serbia)