Since the premiere of the Women’s EHF EURO in 1994, Germany have never failed to qualify for the final tournament – but also since the maiden event, they have been waiting to add to the silver medal won in 1994. Three times, in 1996, 2006 and 2008, Germany made it to the semi-finals, but ultimately finished fourth.
After their disappointing home World Championship in 2017, when they were eliminated by Denmark in the eighth-finals, Germany entered a transition. Top stars such as former captain Anna Loerper and two-time Champions League winner Clara Woltering ended their national team careers. Therefore, the task for new head coach Henk Groener is to rebuild the team, with the long-term goal of qualifying for the 2020 Olympic Games.
At the EHF EURO 2018, Germany will face defending champions Norway, Romania and Czech Republic in Group D: “This group is truly a hammer. The only good news is that we duel with Norway right at the start, and if you can beat them in a tournament, the best chance is in the opener,” said Groener.
Many new faces will play their first major tournament in France, and two key players are back after long-term injuries: the backcourt stars Kim Naidzinavicius and Anne Hubinger.
The footprints 23-year-old goalkeeper Dinah Eckerle has to fill are huge, as her predecessors were the experienced duo of Clara Woltering and Katja Kramarczyk. But Eckerle has managed to pass her first tests easily.
Since January, Eckerle has been the new number one in the German goal – and despite her age, she can count on considerable experience. At 16, she debuted in the Bundesliga for her former club Thüringer HC. One year later, she played her first Champions League match. At the U20 World Championship 2014, Eckerle was awarded best goalkeeper. On a club level, she has already won six German league trophies.
For the new season, Eckerle transferred to Bietigheim, where she will gain more Champions League experience. Though Eckerle is not the tallest goalkeeper, her reflexes and cooperation with the defence make her the best German in this position.
Thanks to her height, power and experience, Kim Naidzinavicius is a cornerstone of Germany’s defence and a hub in attack. The 27-seven-year old playmaker was the youngest in the Germany U20 squad that became world champions in 2008. Four years after that world title, she joined the Germany senior national team. On a club level, Naidzinavicius played for Bayer Leverkusen before transferring to Bietigheim in 2016.
Naidzinavicius was expected to be one of the leaders at the home World Championship 2017 but tore her cruciate ligament after 140 seconds of the opening match against Cameroon – and was ruled out for the rest of the 2017/18 season. Now she is back and, once again, expected to be the leader of the rejuvenated German team at the EURO 2018.
The coach: Henk Groener
Dutchman Henk Groener took the role as head coach in January 2018, right after the World Championship 2017 – and hopes are high that he can repeat the success he had with the Netherlands. Through a seven-year development process, Groener steered the Netherlands from zero to hero: To the final of the World Championship 2015, where they claimed an historic silver medal, and to the 2016 Olympic Games Semi-final. Groener’s most important ability is to transform talents into stars.
In his active career as a player on court, which included 219 international matches for the Netherlands, Groener played in Germany and Switzerland. He went on to become coach of German men’s clubs Emsdetten and Ludwigsburg, then the Netherlands men’s national team, before starting the women’s project in 2009. After the 2016 Olympic Games he resigned as Dutch coach, then started coaching again 15 months later, taking on responsibility for the German women's team.
Past Performance at EHF EURO Events
|2008||FYR Macedonia||4th place|