The first two days of the Handball World Championship in Germany and Denmark are over and so far the favorites have not really shown any weakness in their preliminary matches.
Especially the teams of the two neighboring host countries have performed very well against Korea and Chile respectively.
The German team won the first match in Berlin against the Korean team 30:19 and also the Danes showed a fiery game and declassified the Chileans clearly with 39:16. Both hosts seem to have a lot of plans for their home world championship.
In the German group, the world champion France met the Brazilians, who showed a great fight but in the end could be defeated with 24:22. Against the South Americans, the German team will not have it easy as it was against Korea and they also will have another early though game coming up against the world champion.
But it's exactly such games that the fans want to see, which are already pouring into the arenas in large numbers. The opening match in the Mercedes-Benz Arena at Berlin Ostbahnhof attracted 13,500 spectators who created an impressive loud and vibrant atmosphere. Since the German Bundesliga is currently on a winter break, the Handball World Cup is now getting the full attention of Germany's sports enthusiasts. The Royal Arena in Copenhagen was also crowded with 12,500 spectators seeing the Danes' first match. It doesn't always and everywhere have to be just football.
The other opening matches either didn't see any of the co-favorites from Spain, Norway and Sweden struggle. The European vice-champion Sweden needed more effort than expected against Egypt, but in the end they won 27-24.
In a hard-fought game in Munich, Croatia won 31:27 against Iceland, and another goal-rich game was in Berlin between the teams from Serbia and Russia which ended in a 30:30 draw.
Unfortunately, Japan could not yet provide a surprise in their first game this year.
They lost in the Munich Olympiahalle with 29:38 against Macedonia in the match with the most goals so far, but were able to show a good performance over most of the match.
Only at the end was the young team from the Far East, trained by the former coach of the German national team Dagur Sigurdsson, unable to keep up with the high pace and finally had to surrender.
However coach and team can be still happy with the team's performance and some successful showed offensive actions. 29 goals is quite a good result against the strong Macedonian team, but Japan needs to work on their defense.
It won't be any easier in the next matches against the strong teams from Croatia and Spain, but of course I keep my fingers crossed and stay cheerful for team and players that they might still be able to achieve some respectable results at this World Cup, which could finally help this dynamic sport to attract more attention in East Asia as well.
The Japanese should not be lacking in speed and agility and there are five more games to come in which they can prove to the world that they can also play handball in the land of the rising sun.