The 33-32 loss to Poland at the competition in Belgrade was a bitter defeat for the German squad, which had hoped to win this year’s European championship and be a strong contender in London.
Only the Continent’s top two teams go to the summer games. With a win over Poland, Germany would have booked its ticket to the championship’s semifinals.
Germany has been a handball power for some time. But although it won the world championship in 2007, it has since struggled to regain its top form.
All the optimism surrounding this year made the defeat all the more difficult for the Germans, who expressed deep frustration Wednesday.
“Now is not the time for analysis, I am quite upset,” said Dominik Klein, who was sent off right before the end of the match for a serious foul.
Said Holger Glandorf, one of the national team’s top players: “It’s hard to find words.”
The Germans struggled to gain traction against the Poles, constantly fighting back from scoring deficits.
Hesitant and fearful, the squad continually missed shots and produced turnovers.
As the Poles took a 28-24 lead toward the end of the match, it appeared the Germans’ fighting spirit had all but disappeared despite a confident run through the tournament’s earlier rounds.