In addition to the 28:35 against France, there was another important result for German handball on Wednesday.

One that was registered in professional circles, but by no means received the same attention as the one with which the national team said goodbye to the medal race at the World Championships.

This result was even quite clear, yes unequivocally for Germany: 10:0.

That was the result of a vote by the Pekeler family more or less under the Christmas tree.

At least that's what Hendrik Pekeler, the Kiel circle runner, reported in a podcast by the Rhein-Neckar Löwen, which was broadcast as a World Cup special on the German quarter-finals in Gdansk.

Christian Kamp

sports editor.

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It wouldn't be a big surprise if the 31-year-old from Pekeler returned to the national team for the European Championships at home next year.

The national coach also signaled more than just openness to it in the fall.

But the way it came out on the (media) market, it seemed as if there were two pieces of a jigsaw puzzle ready to be put together.

On the one hand, Pekeler's willingness, which he - although he abstained from the family vote - formulated in the podcast as follows: "If I notice that I have a good feeling and no problems, then we will sit down and find a solution."

On the other hand, the signals that Alfred Gislason sent fresh from Gdansk and which, under the impression of the clear result in the end against the Olympic champion and record world champion, seemed like a small SOS across the Baltic Sea towards Kiel.

"He's one of the world's best in attack and defense because he's good at both," said Gislason about Pekeler, who played a key role in the European Championship title in 2016 and Olympic bronze in the same year, the last medal places for German handball players , but signed off after the 2021 Olympics out of consideration for his battered body on an initially unlimited break.

He suffered a torn Achilles tendon last May after returning to the floor in November.

While France is fighting Sweden and Spain versus Denmark for places in the finals, the German team is now playing against Egypt this Friday (3.30 p.m. in the FAZ live ticker for the handball world championship on ARD) and on Sunday in Stockholm for places five to eight.

How great the need for someone like Pekeler would be to get higher again had not yet been shown in Poland in the preliminary and main rounds, where the inner block with the experienced Johannes Golla and the fast-learning Julian Köster cleared up better and better, but then it did against Norway and France: "Our problems in defense cannot be overlooked, we lack the breadth in the squad," said Gislason.

"Against teams like France, who develop a lot of pressure, you hardly have the opportunity to change.

That's a shortcoming.

I hope that we can solve that in the next few months.” It should be added that it is a shortcoming that not only affects the defensive work as such, but also radiates into the attack.

Because Köster in particular had so much playing time and could hardly catch his breath against Norway and France, so that the throws no longer had any impact.

"Köster no longer had the strength to attack," said Gislason.

In general, the Germans didn't manage to develop any danger from the backcourt, the savvy French felt this and retreated, "they were only six meters away and said to the backcourt: throw it," said Gislason.

That was one of the reasons why the nice 11:7 lead after a quarter of an hour and the 19:17 early in the second half were worthless in the end.

The forces would probably have left the German team sooner or later anyway, but Patrick Groetzki's miss at this score hurt them particularly.

Just as the throwing weakness, especially from free positions, which had already cost the possible victory against Norway, was a bit inexplicable for Gislason overall, but noticeably frustrating.

"We pretty much throw away the Norway game ourselves," he said.

"I've looked at a lot of throws and you can see very clearly that the thrower doesn't look at the goalkeeper at all, he just throws at it blindly.

You have to ask whether it's a question of quality or concentration."

Despite all the good progress that the German team undoubtedly made: when you talk about the highest international level, it is probably both – especially if you also see concentration as a question of strength.

And that's what you had to do when you watched someone else who had shown a lot of very good things at this World Cup before the hardships got to his substance: Juri Knorr.

It is one of the most gratifying insights for German handball that he and Köster, both 22 years old, have two figures that invite you to dream.

In harsh reality, however, it would also help these two highly talented people if they didn't have to do so much on their own.

Whether it will be enough for a jump on or close to the podium in the coming year will therefore also depend on

With Pekeler, with Julius Kühn as a massive man from the backcourt, with Timo Kastening as the whirling and, above all, reliably hitting right winger (both absent due to injuries) - that would be another German team.

Maybe also with Fabian Wiede as an imaginative left-hander for the special moments.

However, the Berliner should get an appointment with the dentist much faster than in Gislason's coaching office.

The fact that Wiede canceled participation in the World Cup because of a wisdom tooth operation certainly did not hit the right nerve with the national coach, unlike Pekeler's signals.