"I hope that many fans will come now": Xenia Smits. (Photo: imago / wolf-sportfoto)
Thursday, December 06, 2018
With optimism and at least two points Germany's handball women start in the main round of the European Championship. In France, the motto is: Everything can do, nothing has to. First opponent is Spain. The coach is convinced: his players are better than they think.
In good spirits, the German handball team climbed the charter plane from Brest to Nancy, where the young team of national coach Henk Groener now wants to survive the main round of the European Championship in France. The advance as Vorrundenzweiter has strengthened the self-confidence of the DHB selection enormously. "Now we can play free, because we have reached our first goal," said captain Julia Behnke. In the first game of the main round, this Friday (starting at 6 pm on sportdeutschland.tv) against Spain. Groener expects a boost. "I hope the players now realize that they can do more than they currently dare, we go into every game to win it, and we'll see how far we come," said the 58-year-old Dutch. With 2: 2 points from the games against defending champion Norway (33:32) and Romania (24:29), the DHB selection has created a better position than expected. After the Spaniards (0: 4) wait Hungary (2: 2) and the World Cup Third Netherlands (4: 0) as another opponent in the main round group II "Everything is possible," said DHB President Andreas Michelmann. "From now on, the team can only positively surprise and reward." "Maybe a few surprises" The first two teams in a group qualify for the semi-finals on December 14 in Paris, the third-placed play on the same day for fifth place. A goal has reached the DHB selection with the entry into the top twelve teams: If she does not qualify directly for the 2019 World Cup in Japan, she is in the draw of the playoffs in pot 1 and meets a weaker opponent. But now the focus is on the European Championship. The progress will help the development of the German women's handball after the botched home World Cup last year. "Even though we deliberately set up the project on a long-term basis, this is of course much better for the mood than having to go home after the preliminary round," said Michelmann. More about the topic The 30:28 in the preliminary round against the Czech Republic could now also solve the last brakes. "We have a chance against all three teams," said playmaker Alina Grijseels. Against Spain there were indeed in the final European Championship test (20:22) and in the European Championship qualifiers (23:27) two defeats, before on Groener debut as a national coach in March but also a remarkable 33:24 victory.A player rejoices especially: Xenia Smits. The 24-year-old backcourt has been playing for the French champions Metz since summer 2015, only 60 kilometers from Nancy. "I hope that many fans are coming to support me and the German team, who knows, maybe there will be a few more surprises."