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08.12.2017, 13:34
Three goalkeepers who can win matches at EHF EURO 2018
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PLAYERS TO LOOK OUT FOR #1: Niklas Landin, Torbjørn Bergerud and Andreas Wolff are shot-stoppers who are almost sure to make an impact at the Men’s EHF EURO 2018 - and success for their respective teams will largely depend on them
 

Three goalkeepers who can win matches at EHF EURO 2018

With the Men’s EHF EURO 2018 approaching fast, ehf-euro.com presents an eight-part series focusing at the players to look out for in Croatia in January.

This first part puts the spotlight on the goalkeepers.

Niklas Landin, Denmark

It has often been said that if the Danes are to be successful at a major championship, Niklas Landin and Mikkel Hansen will have to be at their best. This is still true, and while we will wait a bit with Hansen, we take a closer look at Landin.

The two-metre tall goalkeeper from THW Kiel will be turning 29 on 19 December, but he has already been playing with the experience of a veteran for several years.

His reactions in one-on-one situations are as impressive as his ability to read the shots from distance. For wingers he is virtually impossible to pass because of his ability to close almost every angle. Getting his leg up at shoulder height to save a shot from close range is among his most legendary qualities.

Being born north of Copenhagen and having started his career at small club KFUM København, his handball career really speeded up at league clubs GOG and Bjerringbro-Silkeborg. There he caught the eye of Rhein-Neckar Löwen, where he played for three years before joining their Bundesliga rivals, THW Kiel, in 2015. At Kiel he has been a crucial player right from the start.

Next season he will get his younger brother, left wing Magnus, as a teammate. We can all – except maybe for Denmark’s opponents – look forward to Landin’s acrobatic saves in Croatia.

Torbjørn Bergerud, Norway

Having good goalkeepers is a long-standing Norwegian tradition. Starting with Steinar Ege and continuing with Ole Erevik and Espen Christensen, the current first-choice goalkeeper for national coach Christian Berge is Torbjørn Bergerud.

Although he is still just 23, Bergerud has already reached international top level, which he has proven on many occasions in competitive matches for Norway. At the World Championship 2017 in France he had his international breakthrough, and he played a crucial role in Norway’s sensationally run to the silver medal.

Already at the age of 20, he left the club of his youth, Drammens HK, to move east to Lugi HF, in the Swedish university town. The following season he joined Danish TTH Holstebro.

His performances for Norway in particular prompted SG Flensburg-Handewitt to make him and Holstebro an offer they both could not refuse. So from next season, Bergerud will be guarding the goal for the Northern-German top club.

His nearly two-metre height, his way of reading the shooters, and his positioning for shots from nearly any angle are his greatest assets. If young Bergerud reaches his top level – which he does very often – Norway can get far in Croatia.

Andreas Wolff, Germany

Nicknamed ‘Der Handball-Wolff,’ the 26-year-old THW Kiel goalkeeper is just as crucial to Germany as Landin and Bergerud are to Denmark and Norway.

Having started to play handball at the age of five, Andreas Wolff’s career has been going steeply upwards since the EHF EURO 2016 in Poland, where he was instrumental to Germany’s winning run to the title. Wolff was particularly outstanding in Germany’s 24:17 win over Spain in the final, but had showed his high level already throughout the tournament and he made it into the EHF EURO All-star team.

His performances in Poland in January 2016 helped him earn a transfer from HSG Wetzlar to Bundesliga rivals Kiel a few months later. Wolff’s biggest – and probably only – problem is that he is sharing the goalkeeper position at Kiel with no one else than Niklas Landin.

A keeper of his level needs to be first choice, and Andreas Wolff will expect to become just that when he joins PGE Vive Kielce in the summer of 2019. If the ‘Bad Boys,’ as Germany’s national team is nicknamed, are going to be successful again in Croatia, Andreas Wolff will have to reach his peak once more.


TEXT: Peter Bruun / ew / ts
 
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