Germany survive scare to start Poland/Sweden 2023 with a win

13 Jan. 2023

Germany survive scare to start Poland/Sweden 2023 with a win

For the seventh edition of the IHF Men’s World Championship in a row, Germany threw off the competition with a win, 31:27, but they had a rough patch in the second half, which might prompt some question marks for coach Alfreð Gislason.

Group E

Germany vs Qatar 31:27 (18:13)

With a young and exciting squad, Germany had the perfect opportunity to secure a winning start to the 2023 IHF Men’s World Championship. They faced a side that secured the silver medal when they hosted the competition eight years ago, but were still trying to find their ground.

Missing key left back Frankis Marzo, the top goal scorer at Egypt 2021, Qatar had moderate ambitions to start Poland/Sweden 2023, and that was there to be seen from the start of the match when Germany used their excellent defence to engineer a 5:0 run that saw them jump to a 6:2 lead.

It was more about Qatar’s missed shots and turnovers than Germany really taking a strong grip of the match. Still, Andreas Wolff’s excellent saves did not go unnoticed, with Germany’s shot-stopper boasting a 47% saving efficiency after only 16 minutes.

By that time, the lead ballooned to six goals, only for Qatar to keep the gap under control in the last part of the first half. However, Germany were still in total control, finishing the first 30 minutes with an excellent percentage in fast breaks and converting six of their seven attempts, with Wolff himself providing two assists. At the same time, wings Patrick Groetzki and Lukas Mertens combined for six goals.

But how did the tables turn in the second half? While Germany looked to be in firm control of the match, half-time was probably not their best moment, as they looked totally out of focus and Qatar capitalised on that.

With plenty of experience in the squad, including left back Rafael Capote, who is featuring at the IHF Men’s World Championship for the fifth time, the Asian champions took advantage of Germany’s woes as the attacking efficiency of Alfreð Gislason’s side plummeted. 

With 10 turnovers – six of which came in the second half – Germany was too careless with the ball, and Qatar used a 4:0 unanswered run between the 35th and the 39th minute to cut the gap to only two goals (22:20).

And just like that, Germany had a match on their hands, with Qatar constantly pressing to cut the gap. The closest they got was to a single goal, 26:25, with only 10 minutes left, as Gislason was left perplexed on the bench by the errors made by his team.

However, their greater experience and depth, with all of their players featuring in the best European competitions on a weekly basis, helped Germany. A 3:0 run that prevented Qatar from scoring between the 50th and 54th minute was key to the win, starting the world handball flagship competition with a win for the seventh time in a row, 31:27.

22-year-old left back Juri Knorr was instrumental in Germany’s win, scoring eight times from 10 shots while also dishing six assists. At the same time, goalkeeper Andreas Wolff also impressed, with 15 saves and a 38% saving efficiency, being key in crunch time.

Yet Germany will surely be left wondering how they can improve their level. As matches against Algeria and Serbia follow, they will need more from their players.

On the other side, Qatar face the same opponents but will be buoyed by the strength shown against Germany, with few teams being able to deliver such a comeback as they did in the second half.

hummel Player of the Match: Juri Knorr (Germany)