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26.11.2016, 17:14
EHF EURO 2016 part of a bigger plan for Germany
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TEAM CHECK GERMANY: Three key left backs out, a tough group ahead and a rejuvenated team working towards the World Championship 2017 on home ground. Things could be easier for Germany ahead of Sweden 2016
 

EHF EURO 2016 part of a bigger plan for Germany

Since the very first EHF EURO, in 1994 on home ground, the German women have not won any medals at the European championship.

In 2006 and 2008, they made it to the semi-finals, but went on to finish fourth twice, and in 2010, Germany missed the main round.

A new era has started with coach Michael Biegler. But for him, the federation and the team, the EHF EURO in Sweden is an intermediate step toward the World Championship 2017 in Germany.

The roster

Susann Müller did not fit into Biegler’s roster. The top scorer of the World Championship 2013, former (short-term) Györ shooter and key player for Biegler’s predecessors had not been nominated for any training session or match since the new coach took the helm in April.

Now players like Kerstin Wohlbold and Svenja Huber, who were not nominated by Biegler’s predecessor Jakob Vestergaard, are back in a quite inexperienced team.

Young guns like 19-year-old Emily Bölk, the biggest German talent of the last decade, are the future.
Bölk will have significant responsibility as the three regular left backs, all with Champions League experience, are ruled out for the EURO: Nadja Nadgornaja (Dortmund) is pregnant, Xenia Smits (Metz) broke her foot and Shenia Minevskaya (Leipzig) broke her finger.

Thus, Nantes’ Isabell Klein is the only player from a foreign club among the 21 players from which Biegler will select his EURO squad.

The attack

Without Müller, Nadgornaja, Smits and Minevskaja, the back court axis seems to be weakened. Bölk and Saskia Lang carry the hopes on the left back position, while Klein and Anne Hubinger are the right backs.

One of Germany’s advantages is the high quality of their centre backs: New team captain Anna Loerper is not only a playmaker, but is very strong one-against-one, while Kerstin Wohlbold and Kim Naidzinavicius are also long-range shooters.

In previous tournaments, left wing was a kind of Achilles’ heel in the German side, but Lone Fischer and Maria Kiedrowski have higher scoring efficiency from the wing positions than most of their predecessors.

Biegler has already adapted the Danish style of Vestergaard and his predecessor Heine Jensen, which relied on counter attacks and full speed, as mistakes occurred when the speed was too high.

The defence

If Germany has one position where they can count on world-class players, then it is the goalkeepers.
Two-time Champions League winner Clara Woltering, experienced Katja Kramarczyk and young Dinah Eckerle will fight for the two spots between the posts until the end of preparation. Each of them has a completely different style, so Biegler can adjust his choice to the opponents.

In general, Germany’s defence is expected to be stronger than their attack, though former defence boss Luisa Schulze is not nominated. Her position in the middle block is shared by tall Julia Behnke and Naidzinavicius.

The coach

For the first time in EURO history, one coach will be at the helm of a men’s and women’s team in the same year – men’s and women’s teams from different countries no less.

After disappointment with the Polish men in January, Michael Biegler was announced as the successor of unlucky Dane Vestergaard.

After leading a total of 14 different men’s teams, including being Heiner Brand’s assistant for Germany, this is Biegler’s first task in women’s handball – and Biegler truly loves his “ladies”, as he calls his players.

The players love the enthusiasm Biegler generates in the team, though his training sessions are tough. He has completely changed the structure of planning, training and preparing, and is on the road nearly every day to visit matches and training sessions of the 40 players he nominated for the major goal World Championship 2017.

Biegler has already moved the team in the right direction with full support from the Federation, even if the EURO ends as a failure.

The outlook

The whole Germany team project is geared to the 2017 World Championship, but the EHF EURO 2016 goal is still to make it to the main round, as “then we have three more matches against top opponents we need to develop the team,” says Biegler.

As Netherlands and France look stronger than German side, the last match day in Kristianstad might see a real final for a main round spot when Germany play Poland.

But even France and Netherlands will have recognised the 32:18 win that resulted when Germany played flawlessly in the preparation match against Spain.

The problem for Germany could be lack of experience, consistency, and preparation time. When the EURO throws off, the newly built team will only have had 38 days together since May.

The 21 players for the final test matches against Sweden on Saturday and Sunday:

Goalkeepers: Dinah Eckerle (Thüringer HC), Katja Kramarczyk (HC Leipzig), Clara Woltering (BVB 09 Dortmund)

Left wings: Lone Fischer (Buxtehuder SV), Maria Kiedrowski (Thüringer HC)

Left backs: Emily Bölk (Buxtehuder SV), Saskia Lang (HC Leipzig)

Centre backs: Anna Loerper (TuS Metzingen), Caroline Müller (VfL Oldenburg), Kim Naidzinavicius (SG BBM Bietigheim), Kerstin Wohlbold (Thüringer HC)

Right backs: Anne Hubinger (HC Leipzig), Isabell Klein (Nantes Loire Atlantique HB), Jennifer Rode (TSV Bayer 04 Leverkusen), Alicia Stolle (HSG Blomberg-Lippe)

Right wings: Svenja Huber (BVB 09 Dortmund), Stella Kramer (BVB 09 Dortmund), Maike Schirmer (Buxtehuder SV)

Line players: Julia Behnke (TuS Metzingen), Jenny Karolius (TSV Bayer 04 Leverkusen), Meike Schmelzer (Thüringer HC)


TEXT: Björn Pazen / cg / ts
 
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