MANNHEIM- Formed in 2002 thanks to the merger between Kronau and Ostringen, the Lions of Rhine-Neckar, whose main base is in Mannheim, located south of Frankfurt/Main, has been a handball team that has quietly climbed up the standings to the top four, stalking the teams of Kiel, Hamburg, Flensburg-Handewitt and Berlin like a lion, in hopes that it will get its kill in the end.
On Sunday, the team got its prey in the form of the German Handball League title, but just barely!
After winning the European Handball Championship in 2013, the Lions won their first German Premere League title ever on Sunday, by sending their opponents from Lübbecke on its way to the second tier of the League in style. Thanks to an aggressive offense led by Andy Schmid and Uwe Gensheimer, the Lions took the lead right away and never looked back, taking an early 6-2 lead and leading by as many as seven points at halftime (17-10) before putting the game away in the second half. The final score was 35-23. Lübbecke, which joins Eisenach in the second league in the upcoming season, could not find any answers to a hungry Lion offense, which pounced on them all day with several blocks and interceptions.
The Lions’ victory added the last nail to the coffin of Flensburg’s title chance. Despite SG Flensburg-Handewitt’s stunning 41-27 victory over the Bergisch SC handball team, the Albatross’ quest for their first title since 2004 fell just a point short of their goal. The team had split the series with the Lions during the regular season. Despite finishing as Vizemeister (the name for runner-up) both Flensburg and Rhine Neckar have automatically qualified for the Champions League in the coming season. Sadly for the Lions, the title was bitter sweet, as the team is bidding farewell to Gensheimer. After 13 years playing for his hometown team, he will play his next season at Paris St. Germain in the French League this fall.
Archrival THW Kiel finished third in regular season play, by beating Stuttgart 32-23. For the Zebras, they finished their regular without any championship title for the first time since 2003. Stuttgart wrapped up its first regular season in the Premere League and together with Leipzig, which edged Wetzlar 30-29 in its final game of its first season in the Oberhaus, will be competing for the Handball Crown come next season. The two teams finished in 15th and 11th places respectively.
The Files would like to congratulate the team from Rhine-Neckar on their first ever German Premere League title and wish them all the best in the next season. You guys deserved it! 🙂
Giant Storm Causes Widespread Damage throughout Germany. World Cup in Brazil in Full Gear. Hamburg SV Handball Team Finished?
Getting off the train this morning at Erfurt Central Station in central Thuringia, passengers received a shock of their lives, as the sounds of thunder and lightning made the state capital sound like warfare going on. Pick any war in the last 20 years and it was reenacted by mother nature. And this in addition to heavy rains that flooded streets and brought the vehicular infrastructure to a complete standstill for a time. But this was the overture to the series of storms that occurred over the course of two days, ending today, which is comparable to Hurricane Kyrill in February 2007, and caused severe damage throughout all of Germany. More on that and a pair of sports-related items in the Files’ Newsflyer.
Local Flooding in Cologne, Rostock and Berlin. Downed trees in the Ruhr River area, northern Hesse and Saxony-Anhalt. Train services suspended. Power outages everywhere. This was a familiar sign when Kyrill brought all of Germany to a complete standstill in 2007. Yet with the storm system sweeping through Germany yesterday and today, it brought back memories of the event. Sweltering heat gave way to golfball-sized hail, high winds and torrential downpour that caused critical damage to many cities throughout Germany. Fallen trees and flooding caused several raillines to suspend services, including the hardest hit area, the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, where the German railways suspended all services statewide yesterday for the fourth time since 2007. Officials there are predicting services to return to normal by the weekend. Stations in Essen, Dusseldorf and Cologne were cut off from the rest of the rail network. Raillines between Berlin, Hamburg and places to the north and west were either closed down or rerouted. Over 100,000 travelers were stranded or had to find alternatives, which didn’t fare better with motorways being blocked due to downed trees and other objects. Damage is estimated to be more than $135 million. News sources are predicting a clean-up effort taking up to more than a week to complete; this includes restoring the infrastructure affected by the storm. More information and photos can be found here.
Hamburger SV Handball Team to Fold?
Once deemed as the one of the powerhouses of German handball, especially after winning the Champions League Title last year, the handball team from Hamburg’s days as a Premere League team may be numbered. Faced with a 2.7 million Euro deficit (ca. $4.4 million), no president since the resignation of Andreas Rudolph in May and with that, the team’s main sponsor withdrawing its financial support, the team was denied entrance to the first and second leagues. Its last attempt to save face and be allowed to play next season in the Premere League is to overturn the decision by the German Handball League through the arbitration panel. The decision should take place on Wednesday. Should the panel uphold the decision or Hamburg withdraw its appeal, the team will be forced to play in the Regional League (3rd League) in the next season. In addition, the team will not be allowed to participate in the European Cup in the next season, despite finishing fourth in the standings. Melsungen would replace the spot left vacant. And lastly, the team will most likely file for bankruptcy, which could lead to the club being liquidated, should no one step in with money to help them. Such a free fall would be catastrophic, as Hamburg has competed well against the likes of the 2014 Season and German Cup champions, THW Kiel, as well as Berlin, Rhine-Neckar Lions, and the 2014 Champions League winners, SG Flensburg-Handewitt. More information can be found here.
World Cup begins tomorrow
Germany and the US are two of 32 teams that will go head-to head with the competitors beginning tomorrow. The 2014 FIFA World Cup will take place in Brazil at 12 several locations, with the Championship to take place on July 13th in Rio de Janeiro. For the first time since 1930, all the teams winning a World Cup will participate in the competition (Argentina, England, France, Italy, Spain, Uruguay, and Germany). Spain is the returning champion, having edged the Netherlands in the 2010 Cup. This is the fifth time the Cup is taking place in South America, which has been won by teams from that continent the last four times. That means Brazil is the heavy favorites to take the Cup. More interesting is the pool play, in particular, Group G, where the US and Germany are in. They are scheduled to meet on 26 June in Recife. The stakes are high for the head coaches of both teams, who are both looking for their first World Cup title. Jurgen Klinnsmann is being criticized for the American team being Europeanized, which could be his downfall if his team does not make it. Joachim Loewe is hoping that winning the title will improve his chances of a contract extension before 2016. With both teams hobbling with players banged up from regular season competition, it will be interesting to see how the match will turn out, let alone, who will go far in the Cup. More on the Cup to come in the Files. If you want to know more about the tournament, click here for details.