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The defeat against the Danes is a huge slap in the face of the domestic profession in many ways
The Hungarian men’s handball team made it to the top eight teams of the World Championship, where their final ranking was decided in three more matches. The quarter-finals brought the biggest Hungarian defeat of all time in terms of the men’s division, after the later world champion Denmark, led by Mathias Gidsel and Simon Pytlick, crushed ours easily and won 40-23, with seventeen goals.
How much more dynamic the Danish players are was fully evident in the match. In attack, we saw an incredibly courageous game from the bench shooters, Zoltán Szita and Zoran Ilic, and in defense, the Hungarian wall completely softened, the Danes operated with a shooting efficiency of over 80 percent almost throughout.
While the Hungarian team was one of the most penalized, but the team that scored the fewest goals among the quarter-final teams, until the end of the semi-final, the defensive wall turned into a gateway against the defending champion. The Danish crossers in threes, as well as in the areas between twos and threes, practically dismantled the Hungarian defense as they wanted.
It is also worth mentioning here that while Gidsel, Pytlick or even Mikkel Hansen tricked our defenders with ease,
until then, our shooters could not perform any of the classic handball moves (starting, lifting, turning), not only in the match against the Danes, but in almost the entire world championship.
The reason for this is also in the training. It is not the first time that in Hungary – in contrast to the Scandinavian region – tactical preparation precedes the development of individual skills, so the players are selected for the figurative game, which early selects later-maturing young people who may have potential.
In terms of cross-shooters, this means that in the men’s division, those who can shoot big from nine meters after a couple of cross-moving figures are selected for the most part, and from a combinative point of view, they are typically satisfied if they manage to establish a relatively good playing relationship with the defender, from which they can play closing and separation.
Not only in Scandinavia, but also in most developing handball cultures, this approach has already been exceeded, and in the women’s field, in Hungary, for example, the big shooters are specifically selected, which also brings problems.
There are two extremes in Hungarian retraining:
in men, they are uncontrollable pushovers, and in women, they are only inner people of the controlling type.
The Hungarian profession can therefore educate both, but it has not yet found the balance.
With the Danes, the Norwegians, and even with the Egyptians, we see that the three interior positions have almost completely blurred together, and those who are officially shooting, controlling or right-shooting are already expected to be able to play in all three mentioned positions. However, this requires appropriate dynamics and combinative tactical thinking that is also put into practice.
Here, the three positions are still completely separate, our crossers cannot control the game, while this can be said for the Danes about all the members of the Gidsel, Hansen, Pytlick triumvirate, as well as for the Norwegians about Sander Sagosen, Christian O’Sullivan or Goran Johanessen. This also means that both the Norwegian and Danish teams have much more variation options tactically than the Hungarian team, and this was shown in the 33-25, eight-goal defeat against Norway after the quarter-final slap.
Where did the tough defense go?
As was true for all the qualifying matches, including the first half of the match against Egypt, there was almost nothing left of the tough defense until the semi-finals. We can basically find two explanations for this, which are not at all mutually exclusive: one is that
physical fatigue took its toll on the team, and because of this, the usual, more than once rough stopping fouls did not come anymore.
The other is that Chema Rodríguez was able to tell his inner defenders, especially Adrián Sipos, to hold back his toughness a little, because it was clear during the World Cup that the referees (not unreasonably) tripped him up. However, Sipos may have taken this instruction too seriously and therefore did not dare to release more hard fouls.
At the same time, the fatigue factor could definitely have played a role in the Hungarian three defenders. With the exception of the times after the red card exhibitions, Sipos defended throughout the clashes sometimes with Miklós Rosta, sometimes with Benc Bánhidi on his side. However, Patrik Ligetvári was only given a marginal role in this tournament, the reasons for which we do not know.
By the way, Ligetvári entered the match against Norway particularly well and started with four goals at the end of the first half. However, the second half did not go so well for him, but he still performed relatively well.
It works, you just have to give it the opportunity
– said Ligetvári to M4 Sport after the eight-goal defeat against the Norwegians, and it really is a question why Chema did not play him more during the tournament. At the same time, it is important to mention that due to the few playing minutes, the Norwegians could not prepare for it, so it was easier to surprise them with four quick goals.
You don’t have enough concentration
What was especially bad to watch against the Scandinavians was that both the Danes and the Norwegians opened the scissors very quickly without much effort. This was also pointed out by Roland Mikler, who said that the Norwegians were not at their 100 percent, and in a quarter-final match, it is conceivable that they would have beaten us almost as much as the Danes.
What makes the difference? Based on the statistics, the situational utilization, which is closely related to the oxygen level of the brain and thus to the state of fitness. We have already written about the fact that the opponent’s goalkeepers typically overperform against the Hungarian team, while the difference between the expected goals (xG) and the number of goals was extremely moderate even after the semi-finals.
Against Denmark, based on the xG indicators, we should have lost by three goals, while the end result was a difference of 17 goals.
The reason for this is that our team shot 16.6 percent less than expected, and the Danes overachieved by 30.9 percent. As a result, the differences in the efficiency of the goalkeepers were also in the same direction, which is an amazing difference at this level, that excluding the sevens, the Danish shooting efficiency was 84.8 percent, and the Hungarian one was 45.2 percent.
In the quarter-finals, Denmark continued as great offensively as before. Their field shooting percentage of 84.8% even was the overall 2nd highest of the tournament and 8th highest since data is available (2007).#handball #POLSWE2023 pic.twitter.com/80pCwte9Z9
— Handballytics (@handballytics) January 25, 2023
Based on the xG indicators, a close match against Norway was also expected, but there were huge differences in shooting efficiency, as well as in goalkeeping efficiency. Here, the Hungarian national team took advantage of their opportunities a bit better than expected, but they were still unable to compete with the Norwegians.
The tie for seventh place against Egypt brought the most positive picture overall, despite the fact that the Hungarian national team was very stuck at the beginning, and at the break we could talk about a 17-11, six-goal Egyptian lead. However, the Hungarian team clawed its way back into the match and saved the match 28-28 with a hussar’s hair.
In the double overtime, they fought heroically, but ours made mistakes in key moments, and in the end, after 80 minutes of play, Egypt won 36-35, with which it was decided that Hungary will finish the World Championship in eighth place. This also means that there is a good chance that the sixth-ranked Norway will be one of the opponents in the Olympic qualifiers, although we already knew this before the match, since Egypt is expected to win the African Championship.
The problem is not the will to fight
It is particularly positive that the Hungarian national team fought so hard for a seventh place in the World Championship against the slightly battered, but still strong, fourth-placed Egyptian team at the Olympics, which had no significance from the point of view of the Olympic qualifiers.
So far, the problem has not been with the attitude, and the Hungarian national team is a great fighter, but this is not always enough. It is also important to mention that, based on the xG indicators, we should have won by two goals against Egypt, and the big difference this time was that, compared to the expected finishing efficiency, the implementation was much better for the opponent than for us.
And it is also not encouraging that even after two overtimes, we could not beat Africa’s best, as the Egyptians came from a single overtime clash against the Germans.
If you look at the statistics, it is no coincidence that in the end we were only able to be in extremely fierce competition with Egypt. Looking at the differences between average goals and average xG, there is quite a lot of overlap between average extra goals and the actual final score. In the calculation, this time only matches played between the best eight were taken into account.
|average extra goals (average number of goals – average xG)||goal/match||xG/match|
In this respect, Germany ended up behind and Sweden ahead of what this indicator indicates. Denmark used their chances exceptionally well, scoring almost six more goals on average than expected, resulting in a World Cup title. The reason for this is that their crossers, Gidsel and Pytlick, scored a lot of goals with an outstanding efficiency of 75 and 72.9 percent, respectively.
Compared to this, the Hungarian national team is the only one of the top eight teams that finished in the red in terms of extra goals, i.e. they scored fewer goals than would have been expected from the created situations.
From this point of view, we were the only ones to compete with Egypt, which – thanks to the victory against us – finished with a minimal surplus.
The Hungarian national team reached the set goal, i.e. the Olympic qualifier, but at the same time, in terms of the Paris quota, domestic handball is minimally ahead of the World Championship.
Despite the eighth place, this team is not actually among the top eight teams in the world,
In addition to Norway or Germany, they also have to compete with a European team for the Olympics, which could be Iceland or Portugal, but also the up-and-coming Netherlands or the always dangerous Serbia.
In order for the Hungarian national team to emerge as one of the main contenders for the two quota places in the qualifying group, along with its eighth place in the World Championship, the team must improve enormously in the coming year.
- The Netherlands
- United States
- Green Verde
- North Macedonia
- South Korea
- Saudi Arabia
(Cover photo: Egypt’s Ahmed Mohamed (b) and Ali Mohamed (r) and Gábor Ancsin played for 7th place in the Men’s Handball World Olympic Qualification Championship in the Hungary-Egypt match at the Tele2 Arena in Stockholm on January 29, 2023. Photo: Tamás Kovács / MTI)