20/12/2019

Germany hope for a semi-final spot

MEN’S EHF EURO 2020 COUNTDOWN #10: The 2004 and 2016 European champions are counting on their goalkeepers and line players, with question marks over the back court

Germany, the 2016 champions, want to get back into the semi-finals after missing out two years ago.

For Germany, the EHF EURO 2018 in Croatia ended with a nightmare match against Spain in the main round. The 31:27 defeat cost the defending champions a place in the semi-finals, while Spain went on to win the title.

This time around in Trondheim, Germany have the opportunity to take revenge in a preliminary round duel between the 2016 and 2018 European champions.

Three questions before the Men’s EHF EURO 2020:

- Can Germany find a solution for their centre back problem?

Martin Strobel, Simon Ernst and Tim Suton are ruled out through injury and Steffen Fäth is not nominated in the squad of 28 – so the centre back position could become a problem for Germany.

In recent test matches, Füchse Berlin duo Fabian Wiede and Paul Drux shared this position and played quite well, but Wiede has since been ruled out of the EHF EURO following shoulder surgery, while Steffen Weinhold is also injured. Another left-handed option for centre back is Kai Häfner. The only good news for the German back court axis was the comeback of sharpshooter Julius Kühn at the end of October after a nearly year-long absence.

- Who will be the second goalkeeper beside Andreas Wolff?

When Germany played a couple of friendly matches against Croatia in October there was a surprise omission from the squad – goalkeeper Silvio Heinevetter, absent for the first time in more than a decade. However, recent THW Kiel signing Dario Quenstedt has played an impressive season at club level and was strong in those test matches.

That said, Heinevetter is also part of the 28-man squad for EHF EURO alongside veteran Johannes Bitter, but if nothing changes, Quenstedt seem to have the better chance at the moment.

- Can Germany make it to the podium again?

Germany have an easier preliminary round and potential main round draw than many other teams that could go far. They have a strong goalkeeper duo and the perfect mixture of line players. But they can only win as a team, not boosted by a single player. If they get into a flow and make it to the final weekend, they have all doors open, but in the end, it is all about the physical condition of the players after tough weeks in domestic and international competitions.

Under the spotlight: Uwe Gensheimer

The team captain and third best all-time scorer in the German men’s teams’ history has never won a medal at EHF EURO events or world championships. His only silverware is an Olympic bronze medal from Rio 2016.

Having in mind that his three-year stint at Paris Saint-Germain ended without a VELUX EHF Champions League trophy, Gensheimer’s hunger for silverware is huge.

Self-esteem

“We can fight for a medal and we can beat any opponent, but we also know that teams such as Norway, Denmark and France are ahead of us,” says head coach Christian Prokop.

The fact that Germany will avoid all those top teams and Sweden until the semi-finals can boost their hopes to make it to Stockholm at least.

Fun fact

Besides his job as professional handball player, Uwe Gensheimer has two more businesses. Some years ago, he started a sock company with his Rhein-Neckar Löwen teammate Andy Schmid, called UandWoo. Last summer he opened a restaurant in Mannheim, his home town.

What the numbers say

Germany is one of three nations with the full set of Men’s EHF EURO medals – and they were the first to collect all three. They took bronze in 1998, silver in 2002 and gold in 2004, followed by the trophy in 2016. The two other nations with gold, silver and bronze are Denmark and Spain.

written by Björn Pazen / jh, ew