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Date: 7/29/2017

The second 2017 IHF Men’s Junior World Championship semi-final ended with a clear win for Spain, who beat their Men’s 20 EHF EURO 2016 final opponents by five goals to claim a place in the trophy match. Spain will meet Denmark in the ultimate game at Algeria 2017, after the Scandinavian side booked their spot in the final earlier in the evening with a win against defending champions France. 

“The team has worked really, really hard all the summer, and all the effort we have done has its gift. I love this game, I love my team and this is amazing," said Spain’s Jose Marquez after the match. 

“I think Germany have the most complete team in the World Championship. They were the strongest. I was really scared of this team, but we defended really fast and that created problems for them. Our goalkeeper and all the defence we did gave us the match.” 

Semi-final: Germany vs Spain 21:26 (11:12)

While Germany scored their first goal early it took almost five minutes for Spain to hit the net. Germany’s back court were forced to play patient attack as they looked for ways to beat the 5-1 defensive system against them, while Spain had trouble against their opponent’s tall 6-0. 

Both goalkeepers – Xoan Ledo for Spain and Joel Birlehm for Germany – made impressive saves in the opening minutes – making it clear there would be no easy goals in the game. Germany were initially the stronger side, pulling ahead to a 4:2 advantage off a well-executed cross between Marian Michalczik and Sebastian Heymann, before Spain came back to equalise with a fast-break goal from Jaime Fernandez. 

The game remained level, with Germany taking the score to 7:7 off a fast restart that showed Spain could not drop their guard for even one second – but Spain proved the same as Aleix Gomez earned his side a one-goal edge with a breakthrough goal in the middle of the court just before the end of the first quarter. 

Germany coach Erik Wudtke used his first time-out at the 20-minute mark with Spain still holding the upper hand at 9:8. He was rewarded with a two-goal run that saw his side take the lead with a fast-break goal from Men’s 20 EHF EURO 2016 All-star left wing Lukas Mertens, after which Birlehm made a superb save that kept Spain from closing the deficit. 

But Germany could not keep Spain at bay for long, and they came back to level then reclaimed the advantage with less than four minutes left in the half. Birlehm was unlucky not to save a shot from Marquez in the 28th that pulled Spain ahead to 12:10, but Germany added one more before the whistle for a one-goal score line at the break.  

A suspension for Marian Michalczik early in the second half enabled Spain to move ahead to 15:13 by the 35th minute, and when Michalczik was sent off again just before the 40-minute mark Spain capitalised with a goal from right wing Gomez (18:15). Four minutes later, as Germany changed to seven-on-six, Spain created a four-goal distance – but when Antonio Bazan Legasa was send off for two minutes it was Germany’s turn to make the most of the numerical advantage. 

The Men’s 20 EHF EURO 2016 silver medallists came roaring back to a score of 19:21, before errors on two consecutive counter attacks gave Spain the chance to reclaim the three-goal lead with a goal from Daniel Dujshebaev. The final 10 minutes were played at a furious pace as Germany fought to decrease the distance and Spain did everything to hold it. 

Ledo made a crucial penalty save in the 54th that kept Spain ahead 24:21, and they could begin to taste victory as Germany made a key mistake with three minutes left when they failed on a fast-break attempt. The victory was sealed when Germany lost the ball in attack and Gomez scored a fast break that took the score to 25:21 before Ledo made another important save. As the clock ticked to the final buzzer Spain could hardly wait to celebrate, and they secured their place in the final with a five-goal difference at the whistle.