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11.11.2015, 08:49
Gudmundsson's many options
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EHF EURO INSIGHTS: The Golden League has proven that Denmark’s national coach has problems ahead of the EHF EURO 2016 – for the majority these are positive one but he also faces challenges
 

Gudmundsson's many options

It has been said many a time that if Denmark want to be successful, Niklas Landin and Mikkel Hansen have to be at their best.

Nevertheless, the Danes won their last match at the Golden League 32:24 against Iceland without any of those two stars on court.

This proves just how many highly qualified players national coach Gudmundur Gudmundsson at his disposal when he is going to nominate his squad for the EHF EURO 2016.

Of course, Niklas Landin is still Denmark’s first choice goalkeeper, and, of course, Mikkel Hansen is without doubt one of the world’s best handballers, maybe the best, and will always be a crucial asset to the Danish team.

But the Golden League, which Denmark won with victories against Iceland, France and Norway, has proven that the Danes can do well even without those two star players.

On the goalkeeper position, it has been assumed for a long time, that Jannick Green would be the only qualified back-up for Landin.

However, Kevin Møller’s great performances for SG Flensburg-Handewitt in the German Bundesliga and in the VELUX EHF Champions League have made him an obvious contender for the position as second keeper in the squad for the EHF EURO – an impression, Møller confirmed against Iceland.

Wings as good as always

Denmark have always been known for having excellent wings; in the established attacking play as well as when it comes to counter attacks which have always been such an essential part of the Danish game.

The quality on both positions is obviously as good as ever. On the right wing, Hans Lindberg seems to be back at the  level he was at before he sustained his kidney injury last season, and Lasse Svan is as good as always.

On the left, it was received with relief among fans and media, when Anders Eggert decided to end his break from the national team already this autumn.

As things have turned out, though, Eggert may not even be Denmark’s number one on the left wing any longer. Having seen Casper U. Mortensen’s efforts in Oslo – and Gudmundsson’s obvious faith in him – the Hamburg winger may slowly be turning into the first choice on the left.

High quality on the backs

The choice for Gudmundsson looks just as positive when it comes to the backs.

On the right back, Kasper Søndergaard’s decision to take a break of indefinite length from the national team does not seem to be as big a problem, as some people expected it to be.

Mads Christiansen has often proven his skill, and in Norway he did just that once more.

Furthermore, Peter Balling from Team Tvis Holstebro showed that he may be a player to watch out for, ready to step in already in Poland in January, if Nikolaj Øris should not recover in time from his ongoing injury problems.

On the left, Mikkel Hansen speaks for himself, and the Golden League revealed that he has great back-ups in Michael Damgaard from Holstebro and the rising star from KIF Kolding København, Lasse Andersson.

A multitude of line players

René Toft Hansen. Henrik Toft Hansen. Jesper Nøddesbo:  Which national team coach would not be yearning to have three line players of such quality to choose from?

Gudmundsson technically has all of them at his disposal, but while Henrik Toft was not available for the Golden League, the chance was there for Alexander Lynggaard.

The 25-year-old line player from French Saint Raphäel Var made a great impression in the attack, and to a certain extent, also in the defence, once he got his movements adjusted and managed to escape suspensions.

A few challenges

Still, it is not all positive for Gudmundsson. One of the challenges he faces is the central defence, where Denmark’s  opponents scored goals a bit too easily from time to time at the Golden League.

René Toft Hansen is reliable at the centre of the Danish defence, but the question is who should play alongside him. Alexander Lynggaard and Jesper Nøddesbo were tested, but neither the one nor the other really convinced on this position – this problem can be solved though.

Once Toft Hansen’s brother Henrik, who missed the Golden League as he expected to become a father, is available again, a much stronger option for the position will be available.

Another possibility is Henrik Møllgaard from Paris St. Germain Handball, who was absent in Oslo due to an injury.

Furthermore, Gudmundsson will have noticed with interest, that Bjerringbro-Silkeborg defender Klaus Thomsen has  finally recovered from injury.

But speaking of challenges, Gudmundsson has actually created one himself. He has always been known for being very fond of practicing a 6-0 defence with offensive backs, and this seems to form a bit of a problem to his Danish defence, as the opponents sometimes seem to be able to make breakthroughs on the back positions a bit too easily.

Gudmundsson may have to kill one of his dearest darlings here.

Another challenge comes on the playmaker position, where Thomas Mogensen’s farewell to the national team still presents a bit of a problem.

Rasmus Lauge does plays well on this position, and it is obvious that his transfer from THW Kiel to Flensburg has done him good.

However, it is hard to spot any qualified substitutes for Lauge. Mads Mensah Larsen from Rhein-Neckar Löwen has been tried before, and was also tested in Oslo, albeit with varying success.

A solution might be to let Mikkel Hansen play the position from time to time, when Lauge needs a break, and then have Michael Damgaard, Lasse Andersson or Henrik Møllgaard play on the  left back position.

However, these relatively modest challenges do not impact the overall picture that the vast majority of Gudmundur Gudmundsson’s problems are ones of a positive kind.

Having so many highly qualified players to pick from, as Denmark´s Icelandic coach has, is the situation, all coaches are dreaming of.


TEXT: Peter Bruun / ts
 
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