Spain exploded in the final! Where was Denmark today?

Spanish celebration captured in photo by MARCA.com

Spanish celebration captured in photo by MARCA.com

This was expected to become a very close and unpredictable final between the two most dynamic and exciting teams in the championship, each with several potentially dominating players. But it became an amazingly one-sided affair, where Spain was fully in charge from the beginning to the end. A Spanish fan could probably speak or write endlessly about this game, whereas the Danish supporters will quickly want to forget all about it. I will try to find a compromise and just offer some brief comments in addition to the result: 18-10 at half-time, 29-12 after 45 minutes and 35-19 as final score.

If one judged from the quarterfinals and semifinals, this could have been yet another game where Denmark could have gained the necessary advantage in the first half, with the help of Landin in goal, a tight defense, efficient counterattacks and nice goals by Eggert or others. But here none of that worked: Landin did not have a good day, the defense was static and leaked terribly, and the strong Danish shooters got nowhere. Instead, Spain played an inspired handball, supported by the enthusiastic crowd, and everything seemed to work. Sterbik in goal drove the Danes to desperation, while the Spanish attack had no problems finding easy scoring opportunities, from a distance or through elegant passing to the 6-meter line.

So this is what happened and the question is obviously: HOW could it happen? Of course, the Danes are not suddenly a mediocre team. But here, after eight straight wins, it finally became too apparent that world-class player Mikkel Hansen could not be relied upon much in this tournament, and that Landin cannot be realistically in top form every game. And when they Danes encountered an opponent that =, in a sense, was able to use their own methods against them, then they seemed to be lost. Apart from Sterbik in goal, it is difficult to single out a specific Spanish player; they simply had too many weapons in Canellas, Rivera, Maqueda and also Aguinagualde, who showed that he is much more than just a strong circle-runner.

Some cynics will say that it is a big advantage to play a World Championship in your own country, and that is true. It is not a secret that this is a major reason why many of the top countries fight hard for the right to be the host. But Spain has been a top team for a long while and they won gold in Tunisia 2005. In their current form, they could clearly have won this Championship regardless of where it had been played. And Denmark was a worthy finalist despite today’s result. They won all their games before today, most of them in an impressive manner. Of course they might have felt that this year was their turn, just as I myself was ready to believe, but they should gradually adjust to being happy with the silver medals and their standing in the men’s handball today. By the way, the Croatian team, which has been nicely rejuvenated with Duvnjak as their new leader, deservedly won the bronze medals.

So we congratulate the medal winners and I will be back with some post-event thoughts in a few days.

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Article by Christer Ahl

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