New coach since January is Erik Wudtke (46 years old), previous coach of the U20 team, which finished fourth at the World Championship 2017. Before he was an assistant coach of the U20 team. The previous U18 coach was Jochen Beppler, who is now head coach of all German male and female younger age category teams (he was the one to steer Germany to the bronze medal at Koprivnica 2016). The current German team was the winner of the 2018 EYOF (29:26 against Slovenia in the final) and the 2017 Mediterranean Games in Paris (30:25 against France in the final). In the last steps of the preparation, Germany won the Nations Cup Lübeck – 35:21 against Israel, 30:21 against Norway and 26:25 against Iceland. They had a week of teambuilding in Kienbaum and will have final preparation in a camp in Frankfurt right before the departure to Croatia.
Almost all players are signed by Bundesliga teams and Johannes Jeppsen (goalkeeper/SG Flensburg-Handewitt), Juri Klein (playmaker/FC Barcelona) and Tolga Durmaz (line player/Füchse Berlin) will be the key players of the German side in Croatia.
“We were drawn into a highly interesting group, which is expected to be fully equal. The fans will see thrilling matches, but I am sure we will arrive well prepared in Croatia. Some players in our core team were suffering from minor or major injuries, so we have to wait until the very last days prior to the departure with our final nominations. In contrast to the successful events in 2017, some faces changed – but the majority of the team is still on the court. Though the team had gained some international experience last year, a EURO is something special. In terms of our goals, of course, all players dream to become European champions. But currently, our whole focus is only on the preliminary round, in which we face tough teams, but can also build a base for a successful rest of the EURO”, said the head coach Erik Wudtke.
“Russia are a physically strong team, which play with a high speed and can count on a highly skilled playmaker. Hungary can count on technically well-educated players with an intelligent way of attacking. Spain count on a highly aggressive 5:1 defence and a strong left-handed right back”, he added.
Playmaker Juri Knorr expressed the teams’ excitement: “The anticipation is growing day by day, as we are out for a big deal in Croatia. Of course, we all dream to win a medal, but we know that a European Championship can be extremely tough. We will face strong opponents already in the first stage, mainly Spain will be the team to beat. We belong to the group of favourites, but you cannot say we are the main contender, as we won the EYOF last year. All teams have developed, so we expect tough challenges.”
Germany at the EHF M18 EURO 2018 CROATIA:
Preliminary Round in Varaždin – Group C:
- Germany – Russia / 9.08.2016., 18:30
- Hungary – Germany / 10.08.2016., 18:30
- Germany – Spain / 12.08.2016., 18:30
Past results at the EHF M18 EURO:
2016 – Croatia – 3rd place
2014 – Poland – 7th place
2012 – Austria – 1st place
2010 – Montenegro – 4th place
2008 – Czech Republic – 1st place
2006 – Estonia – 9th place
2004 – Serbia and Montenegro – 5th place
2003 – Slovakia – 2nd place
1999 – Portugal – 9th place
1992 – Switzerland – 5th place