The eighth match day of the DKB Handball Bundesliga is bringing MT Melsungen a home match. On Sunday the team in 16th place plays host to the current 9th place side. Still stinging from another loss, this time in Leipzig, the squad from North Hesse knows it's high time for a win to get out of the bottom of the table. Throw off in Rothenbach Hall at Messe Kassel is at 5:15 pm. Tickets are still available for presale and at the hall's box office, which opens at 3:45 pm.
Käsler Photo: The Fight is What Matters – Michael Allendorf's Body Language Speaks Volumes.
The 20:23 in Leipzig represents another setback for the pride of North Hesse. With the loss, the Roth team slid down to 16th place, the first of the three relegation spots. With just four points in the standings, the team is playing well below their potential. To prevent them from getting settled in to the bottom of the table, a victory on Sunday against the Swabian side is essential.
Yet winning against a team like Stuttgart is a tall task. After all, the Swabians successfully recruited yet another world champion this season, playmaker Michael Kraus, and can boast a "World Champion 2007 trio" together with goalkeeper Johannes Bitter and Coach Markus Baur.
Geerken: The Bar is Set Differently than a Year Ago
Since the beginning of the season, the MT has struggled to find last year's form. Back then everything ran smooth as could be as the club finished in fourth place on the table, the best ranking in its history. "But that", cautions MT President Axel Geerken, "is precisely what we need to forget right now. Our bar right now isn't teams like Berlin, Gummersbach or Magdeburg, but rather the teams that are closer to our spot on the table at present, such as Lemgo, Minden and Balingen".
Naturally the situation is subject to intensive analysis behind the scenes at the MT, with the experts and old hands along trying to identify the causes behind the team's recent struggles. The players are their own harshest critics and know precisely after any loss what exactly went wrong. Yet bringing those insights to bear during the next match has been a struggle, succeeding only in the matches against Gummersbach and Göppingen. Against ostensibly weaker teams such as Coburg, Erlangen and Leipzig the boys in red and white have failed to incorporate the improvements.
Roth notes: "Stretches of poor form just happen in sports sometimes"
Michael Roth warned about times like these in the aftermath of the outstanding 15/16 season. "Naturally," the coach proclaimed, "no player plays poorly on purpose. Everybody always want to win. But a team has to be ready to invest more to get there than we were willing to do at the recent match in Leipzig, for example. It isn't about playing aesthetically lovely handball, but rather about digging in deep, clawing and scratching, tapping into the passion and the desire. That's precisely what we need to show this Sunday against Stuttgart. We absolutely want to bring home both points here"!
Lobbed shots send the wrong signal right now!
Michael Roth has given his players clear instructions on how to achieve that goal: "We have to get back to doing things on the playing field that make clear sense and don't require a ton of contemplation". What he means is that the players should take advantage of the tactical and technique tools the coaching staff has provided them. Even if, as the coach freely admits, "that's not always easy to do in stress situations. They tend to lead to improvisation. But right now, given what we're fighting through, that's not what we're after. Trying to score goals with lobs or tricked-out twisting shots sends the wrong signal". Beyond that, he's challenging each individual to commit fully to their common goals. "We can only achieve success as a team. We proved that a ear ago, and it's something we need to be constantly aware of".
MT fans are perceptive
The MT coach feels there's another success factor as well: "It's fantastic to see how our fans are behind us, especially during our current struggles. They're very perceptive about when the team really needs some support more than anything else. It was a big help of late in getting those points against Gummersbach and Göppingen. I think that given the warrior spirit shown by the MT in recent years, they've earned that support as well".
Almost all of Michael Roth's team is available to go, with exception of keeper René Villadsen (pectoral strain) and left wing Jeffrey Boomhouwer (partiant tear of the ankle ligament). A promising youngester, Fin Backs, has been promoted to the pro team to fill in for Boomhouwer.
The team has been relying on Johan Sjöstrand. Since missing 10 weeks to injury, the keeper has quickly regained his accustomed form and stiffened up the defence. That's precisely the momentum the field players in front of him need against Stuttgart.
The guests arriving with ex-MT player and three champions from Germany's 2007 national team
The "Wild Boys”, as the Stuttgarters like to call themselves, will have a former MT player in tow, playmaker Michael Schweikardt. The director wore the red & white kit until 2012, meaning he has ties to Felix Danner, Michael Allendorf, Patrik Fahlgren and Nenad Vuckovic from the current MT team. The most familiar faces from the Bittenfeld side are three German world champions from 2007: keeper Johannes "Jogi” Bitter, playmaker Michael "Mimi” Kraus and coach Markus "Schorsch” Baur.
Referees in Kassel:
Christian vom Dorff / Fabian vom Dorff (Kaarst); DHB Observer: Frank Wenz.
Previous League Meetings:
Two matches, two victories MT Melsungen
15/05/2016, TVB 1898 Stuttgart - MT Melsungen 21:28
9/9/2015, MT Melsungen - TVB 1898 Stuttgart 30:26
Special ticket promotion:
Subscribers to MT Media Partner HNA will really save some cash on Sunday: holders of the HNA Abo BonusCard can buy two tickets for 10 euros instead of 50 euros. These tickets are available only as long as supply lasts on matchday from 3:45 pm at the Hall Ticket Office, upon presentation of the HNA Abo-BonusCard.