That is why Sweden is a handball country

Ea goalkeeper who lies horizontally within the air and deflects the ball together with his fingers; the identical goalkeeper who pulls the opponent and lifts the ball as if preventing for it – this is two scenes of the World Handball Championship held in Sweden and Poland. In each instances, the primary actor was Andreas Palicka in Sweden’s fundamental spherical win over Iceland.

The goalkeeper, who is often calm off the sphere, likes to grow to be a volcano of temper on the sphere and motivates the entire crew. The 36-year-old goalkeeper has lengthy been one in all Sweden’s greatest gamers; he has been one of many faces of handball in Sweden since Palicka made a incredible save within the European Championship last in Budapest a 12 months in the past to beat Spain. Although Palicka can typically appear a bit emotional when the video games get powerful, his strikes, saves and explosive celebrations are very entertaining.

Make changes for 2020

Three wins within the group video games in Gothenburg, then three extra in the primary spherical, additionally in “Scandinavia”: the Swedes across the leaders Jim Gottfriedsson (SG Flensburg-Handewitt) and Max Darge (Füchse Berlin) are relaxed to this point. The World Cup has come to their house. The match is additionally a make-up for Euro 2020, the place the Swedes completed seventh after shedding to Slovenia within the preliminary spherical and missed out on the ultimate at Stockholm’s Tele2 Arena – the place 20,000 followers have been anticipated to cheer them on.


Vulkan between the posts: Goalkeeper Andreas Palicka
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Photo: IMAGO/Bildbyran

After three years, coach Glen Solberg’s crew appears prepared for the title. Norwegian Solberg, 50, took over the Swedes after EM 2020 after which led them to medals on the World Cup, Olympic Games and European Championships. On the highway, his crew in Stockholm should beat Egypt within the quarter-finals this Wednesday (Handball World Cup stay on FAZ and Eurosport at 20.30).

Solberg attracts many skilled and gifted professionals. Traditionally, one of the best younger gamers come from southern Sweden, the place handball is very talked-about in Lund, Ystad, Malmö and Helsingborg. The Gothenburg space is additionally far behind, and ice hockey is changing into increasingly more common in Sweden the additional north it goes. Handball is all the time a TV sport: when Gottfriedsson and Co beat Spain a 12 months in the past, the scores soared to 70 p.c.

Handball fun again: the Swedes have overcome grief.


Handball enjoyable once more: the Swedes have overcome grief.
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Photo: Image Alliance / DeFodi Images

The incontrovertible fact that handball in Sweden can sustain with soccer and ice hockey is because of the nice achievements of the Nineteen Nineties. Under legendary coach Bengt Johansson, the Swedes gained the World Cup in 1990 and 1999. Many worldwide matches have been televised and the rising gamers of these years, similar to Magnus Wieslander, Staffan Olsson and Stefan Lövgren, weren’t stars however compatriots you would contact. Coach Johansson believed in them, allow them to determine, listened. Solberg additionally believes within the technique: “The values ​​which are essential to us are respect, collegiality and belief,” he stated about Handball Week.

But the Swedes, just like the Germans, didn’t take part within the World Cup twice and infrequently achieved prime rankings between 2003 and 2019. There was all the time expertise, however little width, and most significantly, the groups lacked prime gamers.

That modified with Gottfriedsson’s crew. The 2021 World Cup and EM 2022 Most Valuable Player is 30 years previous and on the peak of his creativity. After a mediocre begin to the Bundesliga season, he discovered his kind in time for the World Cup. Next to him, 22-year-old Erik Johansson from Kyiv stands out together with his throwing potential.

Felix Klar and Albin Lagergren are additionally good within the left place. Solberg was spoiled for selection when it got here to assembling the roster. And among the many groups that took second place within the World Cup in 2002 and 2004, the following massive expertise is already lined up.

In handball country, the starvation for stay sports activities is sturdy after the pandemic. Stefan Lövgren hopes the twenty eighth World Championships will give his sport a “massive enhance”. As head of the clever Swedish organizing committee and one of many defining characters of Swedish handball, he is additionally a publicity determine. Lövgren, 52, fills the position with ease. The fundamental factor is that after this world truthful, many little Swedes will discover their technique to handball and wish to comply with their instance.

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