25/01/2020

Keepers Wolff and Bitter lead Germany to fifth place

5/6 PLACEMENT MATCH REVIEW: Germany won a tight battle for fifth place 29:27 to open the penultimate day of action at the Men’s EHF EURO 2020, leaving Portugal in sixth

Andreas Wolff and teammates completed their EHF EURO 2020 campaign in fifth place. Photo © Axel Heimken / kolektiff

The second match day in Stockholm’s Tele2 Arena opened with a close contest that saw the outcome decided in the final minutes. With their 29:27 win, Germany secured fifth place on the final ranking and Portugal placed sixth.

  • Germany take fifth place at the EHF EURO 2020, improving their final position by four places after ranking ninth two years ago
  • Portugal’s position of sixth represents their best result ever at the EHF EURO
  • thanks to his six goals, with the fastest coming in at 120km/h, Julius Kühn receives the Grundfos Player of the Match award
  • Germany finish the EHF EURO 2020 with a total of six wins out of eight matches, while Portugal’s record remains at four victories

5/6 PLACEMENT MATCH

Germany vs Portugal 29:27 (14:13)

Portugal were already assured of their best-ever finish at the EHF EURO before they took the court against Germany, with their previous best a seventh place in 2000. Germany, who have won the trophy twice, were at least sure to beat their final position in the last EURO in Croatia, which they entered as title holders before a disappointing early elimination saw them miss the final weekend.

In the end, a 4:1 partial from Germany through the last 10 minutes decided the match in their favour.

With 11 saves, Germany goalkeeper Andreas Wolff was the clear leader in his side’s game until he was replaced for the final quarter. The EHF EURO 2016 All-star Team goalkeeper was particularly strong early on, with four saves out of nine shots faced in the first 15 minutes that helped Germany earn an early edge, 8:7.

Wolff also scored two long-distance goals in the second period when Portugal played their trademark seven-on-six, which is usually so effective. But Portugal seemed to be lacking some power that prevented them from transitioning quite as quickly to six court players and Alfredo Quintana back in goal, and that led to some errors.

Following his outstanding performance at the EURO, Quintana had trouble early on in the game, but after the 10-minute mark he began to save and finished with a total of 12 in the match.

Once Quintana came into the game, Portugal were able to stay closer. Germany opened a three-goal lead, 18:15, five minutes into the second period courtesy of Wolff’s first long-range effort. However, despite the few mishaps when they allowed goals, Portugal’s seven-on-six tactic was rewarded when they took the lead for the first time in the match, 24:23, off an Alexis Borges goal with 14 minutes remaining.

Although he did not make a high number of saves, the entry of goalkeeper Johannes Bitter served as inspiration for Germany halt Portugal’s momentum. They allowed Portugal to pull away with a two-goal margin, before coming back to level.

When Bitter saved a penalty in the 53rd minute, he kept the score locked at 26:26, and from there Germany grabbed the momentum to take the win.

Germany's coach Christian Prokop said afterwards: "We are very happy that we could win this last game. It was a really tough fight against Portugal and we won the game because we played with a very movable defence and were strong against their seven-against-six. In the second half we played with a lot of power, mainly thanks to Julius Kühn.”

His Portuguese counterpart Paulo Pereira pointed out that Portugal were getting closer and closer to beating Germany.

"The whole EURO was fantastic, our goal was the main round, which was not easy against opponents like Norway and France. But we managed to reach this goal. So far seventh place was our best result, now we made a better one, we are proud," Pereira concluded.

written by Courtney Gahan / jh