First the shock news, then a gala performance: The German handball players ended the preliminary round of the European Championship with three victories after severe corona attacks.

The team of national coach Alfred Gislason beat Poland 30:23 (15:12) and entered the main round as the sovereign group winner - however, the impressive performance of the DHB team was overshadowed by the Corona cases eight and nine.

The sporting performance against the previously undefeated Poles was all the more impressive.

On his 32nd birthday, Christoph Steinert became the best thrower in the DHB selection with nine goals, and the 21-year-old team youngster Julian Köster (six goals) also surpassed himself on Tuesday evening.

"Basically I thought we could do it, but of course the omens weren't good," said captain Johannes Golla, who also scored six goals, on ZDF: "The game was extremely important today because the opponents in the main round are top-class.

Now we hope that we can stay with this line-up."

In addition, the 39-year-old replacement Johannes Bitter did a really good job.

The keeper, who, like four other players, only flown in on the day of the game, gave his inexperienced team a lot of security and made them forget the absence of the regular goalkeeper duo Andreas Wolff and Till Klimpke due to the corona - the defensive performance was world class at times.

The German players were determined from the start, the Corona turbulence only seemed to motivate captain Johannes Golla and Co. even more.

“It was unrelenting emotion.

It's amazing what the boys have shown so far," enthused DHB sports director Axel Kromer at the break.

At the latest when the score was 23:17 (50 th ) the game was decided. 

And so Germany started the main round in Bratislava on Thursday against European champions Spain with 2-0 points.

The other opponents in the next phase of the tournament are Norway (Friday), World Cup runners-up Sweden (Sunday) and Russia (Tuesday).

The two best nations in the two groups of six qualify for the semifinals in Budapest.

Until the duel against Spain, the German team is now hoping that there will be no further corona cases.

Only three hours before the game against Poland, the German Handball Federation (DHB) finally had to report the infections of goalkeeper Till Klimpke and left winger Marcel Schiller.

Goalkeeper Daniel Rebmann (Frisch Auf Göppingen) and left winger Patrick Zieker (TVB Stuttgart) have been nominated for the infected duo. 

In view of the current wave of infections, it is questionable who can play against the Spanish title defender at the start of the main round. Waiting for the PCR results should become as exciting for the German team in the coming days as the sporting showdown on the field. A possible EM withdrawal, which club representatives from home at least no longer wanted to rule out, was not an issue in the team. “We are experiencing great euphoria here. The team is on fire to be able to continue playing handball here,” said Kromer.

She showed that against Poland from the start.

Although his team was "not" able to prepare for the game, Gislason said on ZDF.

Unlike the previous games against Belarus (33:29) and Austria (34:29), Germany found the encounter well.

Steinert stood out in attack - with great certainty in the seven meters and also when finishing the tied game. 

The aggressive coverage of Bitter, who was the only goalkeeper in the DHB squad after Klimpke's brief absence, was better this time.

"Hey guys, very, very good," praised Gislason during his first break.

Philipp Weber marked the 15:12 shortly before the break - his cheering could be clearly heard in front of 1076 spectators in the Ondreja Nepelu Arena.