The audience in Köln was able to witness another fantastic and thrilling game last night!
Yesterday evening in Köln the German national team fought their way to the semi-finals of the Handball World Championships with another shaky victory. The 22:21 against the Croatian team was definitely nothing for anyone with weak hearts, neither for the players, coaches or the once again powerful fans in Köln's Lanxess Arena.
For Croatia, this encounter was already about all or nothing, as they had surprisingly lost against the Brazilian team in the previous match. Germany could go a bit more relaxed into this game and had an additional day rest, a fact which is not to underestimate at this game-intensive world championship.
However, the German side were shocked shortly after the start of the game when playmaker Martin Strobel injured himself without any outside influence. The diagnosis of a rupture of the inner ligament and the cruciate ligament means the end of the tournament for him and Germany loses one of the most important players in its ranks.
Nevertheless, both teams started powerful, although no team could get more than 2 goals ahead. Croatia seemed to have recovered well from the previous day's defeat and were keen to show that they are one of the best teams in this tournament. For this reasons, the lead changed back and forth, and shortly before the half-time whistle Wiede compensated for the German team to 11:11.
In halftime two, Germany managed for the first time to pull off a three-goal lead and went away to 18:15. But the Croats were not impressed at all and scored four goals in a row and turned the game once. When the German team couldn't score a single goal for almost 10 minutes and Croatia took the lead 19-18, it looked as if Germany would give a safe lead away again just before the end.The Croatian goalkeeper Marin Sego played a big part here, fending off all the balls that came onto his goal during this period.
Eventually, the German team managed to equalize twice before taking the lead again with 21:20. Both teams then scored one more goal each and shortly afterwards the German players would break out into cheers to celebrate their early qualification for the semi-finals.
Probably the most important player of the German team was Fabian Wiede, whose goals are becoming more and more important, especially considering the fact that even a Uwe Gensheimer can have a not so great day.
The German players managed to get over the shock of the injury of their playmaker and fought fiercely and with a strong team performance deservedly reached the semi-finals.
Croatia and Spain have already been eliminated, as the German victory has also qualified the French team for the round of the last four. It is not yet clear who the German team will face there; Denmark or Norway are possible opponents. But first they can go relaxed into the last main round match against Spain, in which coach Prokop will probably spare some of his top players. This possibility could be a big advantage for the upcoming semi-final game, because in these exhausting world championships every possibility of regeneration could be of advantage.
But first it's time to play Spain, and the German team should not forget to focus and be concentrated in this game as well, in order not to let this tournament's great run stop. And then on Friday they can continue to work on their success story at this year's Handball World Championships. From now on everything what comes will be a big bonus.