ÖHB team at the EM – from zero to one hundred

At first there were two, now there are seven. Corona cases in the Polish team shook Austria’s first opponent at the European Handball Championship on Friday (8.30 p.m. / ORF Sport +) the day before the game. ÖHB team boss Ales Pajovic does not want to speak of a weakening. “I’ve isolated myself from questions like, is this or someone playing now? We are prepared for everything, but above all we are focused on our game,” said Pajovic.

Adam Morawski, Piotr Chrapkowski, Jan Czuwara, Kacper Adamski and Damian Przytula are affected, they now have to be in quarantine.

However, the quintet does not belong to the first row of Poles, who are also not the only team confronted with corona cases in the run-up to the tournament. In addition to Croatia by the – again “negative” director Domagoj Duvnjak and Denmark, Sweden, France, Serbia, Montenegro and Portugal are also affected.

From the ranks of the other opponents of the Austrians in Group D, Germany (Sunday) and Belarus (Tuesday), no such reports have yet been received.

Piotr Chrapkowski (r.) Will be absent against Austria.  - © afp / Anne-Christine Poujoulat

Piotr Chrapkowski (r.) Will be absent against Austria. – © afp / Anne-Christine Poujoulat

The Austrian team, which has sealed itself off in Stockerau since January 2 and now also on its own floor at the Bratislava venue, only left it for training and for short walks and waived the planned test matches, has so far been spared from unpleasant surprises . All the greater is now the anticipation that it will finally start – and anything but a game “to warm up”, but rather with one that could already be a key to the targeted promotion to the main round of the top twelve. From zero to one hundred must therefore be the motto of the Austrian handball players.

Tournament experienced Poles

There could be no question of the camp fever or differences within the team, emphasized the team players around the captain Nikola Bilyk, who had returned from a long injury break on Thursday, who were still visibly in a good mood – “but of course the time was a bit monotonous. We tried to get the best out of it because you train for the games that are coming now. Now we hope that we can show what we have trained. ” Especially on the defensive, which has been the Achilles heel in the red-white-red team in recent years, they have worked intensively.

That will also be necessary, after all, the Poles, like the other opponents, are a strong team – Corona or not – whose heart, according to Bilyk, is the compact defense, and which has a lot of experience in major tournaments as well as a has a clearly positive balance sheet against Austria.

Poland won the World Cup title in 2007 and is three times third in the World Cup, most recently in 2015. The best result so far at the European Championships was fourth place at the Euro 2010 in Austria, when they defeated Germany, Sweden and Spain, among others. Of the 22 games against Austria so far, 15 wins went to the Poles and six to the Austrians.

However, these encounters were a long time ago, many of the stars of yore are no longer there, while Austria’s team has matured in the meantime. And how quickly things can change in (Corona) times like these is something the Poles experience even before the tournament.

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