Vienna (AP) - National coach Christian Prokop put on a relaxed smile seconds before the final whistle, then he applauded his goalkeeper Johannes Bitter for an outstanding performance.
The 37-year-old keeper and his teammates were celebrated in the prestigious duel with Austria by the numerous German fans in the Wiener Stadthalle after their successful EM character test. Due to the sovereign 34:22 (16:13) success on Monday evening, the DHB selection not only secured the game for fifth place on Saturday (4:00 p.m.) in Stockholm, but also reduced the pressure on Prokop.
"We are happy about this victory," commented the strong bitter on ARD and referred to the defeat against Croatia on Saturday: "We were in a hole. Today we pushed ourselves. "And Prokop said:" It was a great challenge purely mentally. "The coach therefore praised:" The team pulled through consistently and with concentration. "
The mini-chance for the semi-finals of the European Championship, on the other hand, was already gone before the game against the Austrians because defending champions Spain had won their game against Belarus with a convincing 37:28. Only a victory for the Belarusians with seven or eight goals would have kept Germany's low hopes for a medal alive. Instead, the final main round game on Wednesday (8.30 p.m. / ZDF) against the Czech Republic is now about nothing.
Prokop acted as usual on the sidelines and was constantly on the move. Before the game, DHB Vice President Bob Hanning had given the game for fifth place as a new minimum goal and thus increased the pressure on Prokop - and the 41-year-old and his team held up. The DHB selection initially had problems against the Austrians driven by their fans. But at the latest with the inclusion of Bitter, who replaced Andreas Wolff, who was hapless this time, Prokop showed a good hand.
Prokop took the 28-year-old off the record in the 15th minute and brought the 37-year-old veteran into play. The measure first took effect when Bitter fended off a seven-meter shot from Bundesliga professional Robert Weber (HSG Nordhorn-Lingen) six minutes later. After that, the 2007 world champion got better and better. With his further parades, Bitter was the guarantor for numerous counterattacks, one of the most reliable goalscorers was the once again accurate boxing.
«He has a huge experience that he brought in immediately. That was important for the team, »DHB sports director Axel Kromer praised the keeper during the half-time break on the ARD. For this, it initially failed somewhat in the positional attack. Some backfield players made technical mistakes, and captain Uwe Gensheimer again did not find his top form on the left wing. However, these shortcomings were not significant because the internationally rather second-class Austrians hardly emitted any danger. In addition, Tobias Reichmann safely converted every five seven meters.
The slight injury to defensive guard Patrick Wiencek, who stayed outside in the second half, did not endanger the victory. It is not yet clear who the German team will compete for in fifth place. But Kromer had an explanation as to why it wasn't enough for the target medal at the European Championship. "Our squad is currently not an absolute world class in broad terms."
Squad of German handball players
Game plan of the German handball players
Presidium of the German Handball Federation
Board member of the German Handball Federation
The German main round group at the EM