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 combating for it – this is two scenes of the World Handball Championship held in Sweden and Poland. In each circumstances, the primary actor was Andreas Palicka in Sweden’s important spherical win over Iceland.

The goalkeeper, who is normally calm off the sector, likes to turn into a volcano of temper on the sector and motivates the entire workforce. The 36-year-old goalkeeper has lengthy been one among Sweden’s finest gamers; he has been one of many faces of handball in Sweden since Palicka made a unbelievable save within the European Championship ultimate in Budapest a yr in the past to beat Spain. Although Palicka can typically appear a bit emotional when the video games get robust, 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 date. The World Cup has come to their dwelling. The event is additionally a make-up for Euro 2020, the place the Swedes completed seventh after dropping 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 workforce appears to be like 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 workforce 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, the perfect younger gamers come from southern Sweden, the place handball is extremely popular in Lund, Ystad, Malmö and Helsingborg. The Gothenburg space is additionally far behind, and ice hockey is changing into an increasing number of fashionable in Sweden the additional north it goes. Handball is all the time a TV sport: when Gottfriedsson and Co beat Spain a yr 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 undeniable fact that handball in Sweden can sustain with soccer and ice hockey is as a result of nice achievements of the 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, corresponding to Magnus Wieslander, Staffan Olsson and Stefan Lövgren, weren’t stars however compatriots you might contact. Coach Johansson believed in them, allow them to resolve, listened. Solberg additionally believes within the methodology: “The values ​​which might be necessary to us are respect, collegiality and belief,” he mentioned about Handball Week.

But the Swedes, just like the Germans, didn’t take part within the World Cup twice and barely 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 workforce. 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 type in time for the World Cup. Next to him, 22-year-old Erik Johansson from Kyiv stands out together with his throwing capability.

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 robust 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 important factor is that after this world truthful, many little Swedes will discover their strategy to handball and wish to observe their instance.

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