It’s just 70 kilometers between the Rittal-Arena, home of the HSG Wetzlar, and the Fraport-Arena in Frankfurt, where the Rhein-Neckar Löwen hosted their Champions League game against Montpellier. on Wednesday. Once the lions game in “Mainhattan” ended, the players probably looked for a television to check out what rival THW Kiel would do in its game in the evening.
While many had hoped for a close game and maybe a loss of the German record champion in order to see somebody else host the league championship trophy next summer, those hopes weren’t fulfilled. Kiel won in impressive fashion by a final score of 30:26 (16:14), although it lost captain and defensive anchor Rene Toft Hansen with a red card early in the game. The Dane had slapped his opponent right into to head and was rightfully sent off. A longer suspension might be waiting for him.
Early on Wetzlar looked strong and had a chance to take a three-goal lead, but Frenchman Guillaume Joli turned the ball over on a fast-break. Kiel’s Domagoj Duvnjak said thank you and the guests slowly started to control the game. The key player of the first half was THW’s Christian Dissinger. He joined the club in the summer and most experts were shaking their head about the move.
But Dissinger is improving day by day and finally seems to understand what it means to play for a team like Kiel. “Obviously it takes some time to understand a new system, but I found my rhythm and I’m very happy here”, he said in an interview earlier this week. Yesterday he showed that coach Alfred Gislason knew what he was doing as he scored nine goals to lead his side.
While Dissinger was shining in the first half, it was Steffen Weinhold who took over after the break. Once Wetzlar’s coach Kai Wandschneider had switched into a more aggressive 3:3-defense formation, the right-back used his outstanding ability in 1-on-1 situations. He scored six times in the second half and HSG’s Joao Ferraz was sent off after a hard foul on Weinhold.
Meanwhile, on the other end of the court, Wetzlar wasn’t able to create a lot of scoring chances. Although Niklas Landin and Nikolas Katsigiannis, who had replaced a the Danish number one at the start of the second period, hardly saved a shot, the hosts couldn’t find enough holes to keep the score close. Kiel pulled away, led by as many as six goals with twelve minutes to go and cruised to an easy victory.
While Wetzlar has nine days off before hosting Hamburg next week, Kiel is on its way to France to face Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League. If the game will go ahead as scheduled remains to be seen. The reigning league champion will host the MT Melsungen in another key game next Wednesday in the DKB Handball-Bundesliga.