Five teams are fighting for the championship trophy this season and are only a few points apart. The title race in the Handball Bundesliga (HBL) has never been so exciting. Or is it?
In any case, the final phase of the season is likely to be one of the most dramatic in history. Füchse Berlin are in the lead with 39:7 points, followed by Rhein-Neckar Löwen (37:9), THW Kiel (36:8) and SC Magdeburg (35:9), both of whom still have a game to play have the hindquarters. Just like Flensburg (33:11), which has outsider chances.
THW coach Jicha: “I’m glad the league is like this”
Filip Jicha, whose team welcomes the foxes to the top duel on Sunday (2 p.m.), sees the close race for the title more as an incentive than a burden. “I’m glad the league is like this because it’s very exciting. I’ve seen it dominating events for years. It’s just fun when it’s so close. We have to convey that to the boys,” said the THW trainer: “We have everything in our own hands.”
In recent years, a maximum of two teams have usually competed for the title. This time it’s different. “I think anyone can win the championship there,” said HSV Hamburg coach Torsten Jansen at the NDR Sportclub. The 46-year-old’s team is not among the contenders. However, the former player is familiar with exciting title fights. There have been a few of these in handball history:
2002: THW Kiel after catching up to the title
In 2002 there was a showdown on the penultimate day of play. Kiel welcomes the leader HSG Nordhorn – it’s about first place. It didn’t look like that for the THW for a long time: “Actually, everyone wrote that the championship was already gone. But we managed to catch up on our own,” said defense chief Klaus-Dieter Petersen.
Kiel wins six games in a row and also the top game against Nordhorn. On the last day of the game, constant rivals Flensburg demanded everything from the new league leaders: seven minutes before the end it was a draw – not enough for the title. Only the opening goal from Julio Fis and a saved seven-metre throw from Henning Fritz secured the Schleswig-Holsteiners their eighth win in a row and thus the championship.
2007: Duel between Kiel and HSV Hamburg
Before the last day of the game, the HSV handball players around Torsten Jansen are level on points with Kiel, but have a much worse goal difference. There is a long-distance duel at the end of the season. And everything is going well for HSV at halftime: a draw in Kiel, Hamburg are in the lead – at this point the Hanseatic League would be champions. One fan is optimistic: “HSV is always good for a surprise and Kiel sometimes shows nerves.”
But things turned out differently: Kiel kept his nerve and turned the game around, also thanks to goals from the Swedish duo Hendrik Lundström and Kim Andersson. With this, the THW crowns a successful season: In 2007, the club wins the triple of championship trophy, cup and champions league.
2014: THW Kiel and the heartbeat final
The 2014 season finale tops everything that has gone before. Only two goals decide the championship. Before the last matchday, the Rhein-Neckar Löwen are the leaders. Mannheim are level on points with Kiel, but have a goal difference that is seven goals better.
Then the unbelievable: The handball players from the Förde play themselves into a frenzy, land a 37:23 victory against the foxes Berlin. The lions also win, but “only” 40:35 at Gummersbach. What sounds like a task from a math exam is therefore a reality in 2014. THW trainer Alfred Gislason can hardly believe it after the game: “It’s unforgettable. It’s unbelievable to do it like that.”
2018: Flensburg’s nail-biter until the end
In 2018, SG Flensburg-Handewitt made their own fans tremble for a long time. For the first championship after 14 years, a win in the last game against Göppingen is needed. But the North Germans have been struggling for a long time and are even behind at first. There is a back and forth that gets on your nerves.
Only shortly before the end Flensburg wins the game with 22:21. SG professional Thomas Mogensen then describes the pressure on the players: “It was much more than handball today and we noticed that.” The Flensburg withstood him – albeit narrowly.
2021: THW and SG in a long-distance duel for the bowl
Three years later, it’s all about seconds. The THW must not lose against the Rhein-Neckar Löwen in the last game of the season, otherwise Flensburg would overtake the Kiel team. Because the SG does its homework and wins in the parallel game.
The “Zebras” are always behind shortly before the end, but fight for the equalizer. Two seconds before the end of the game it is 25:25 – which would be enough for the German record champions to triumph. But the lions still have one last free throw. If Andy Schmid scores, Flensburg is champion. Schmidt throws – next to it. And Kiel secures the point and the shell.
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sports club | 26.03.2023 | 10:30 p.m