- Norway – Denmark, Sunday 20.30
During the year, Nikolai Jacobsen seemed almost completely unknown. At least large parts of the man were gone. He has dropped 25kg since winning gold at the World Championships a year ago.
He's easy in his step and in good spirits after the dramatic win over Sweden on Friday night. 20 minutes after the last player left the press box, Jacobsen takes the time to respond to Dagbladet and TV2 before Norway takes on the Danish handball giants on Sunday.
-You have become a physically well-trained man. What does that mean for you here at the tournament?
-This means that my knee doesn't hurt as much as it did before. I can move a little better, but other than that it doesn't really matter, he replies with a smile.
Hell of pain
In the Danish media, over the past year he has spoken openly about the pain in his knees and Achilles tendons, which has ruined sleep and daily life. He said in an interview with NBC that he swallowed pills to sleep and searched the Internet for treatment methods Jyllands-Posten.
Surgery for a troubled knee and increased physical activity led to a new daily life with both rowing and strength training.
He is known for his temper and compassion on the sidelines. Even before Denmark's match against Sweden, Dagbladet was able to attest that this also applies abroad.
Fifteen minutes before the match, Jacobsen saw Norwegian player Harald Reinkind sitting with his family behind the press area. Minutes before delivering his final words to the players before an important match for EC, the Dane took two minutes to visit the Norwegian family.
– It's the first time I've seen Harald in the tournament here. We have a special relationship after many good years at Rhein Neckar-Löwen. We did not talk about handball, but in private, explains the Denmark coach.
“His eldest son was born while we were in Mannheim, and it was good to see him again. He had a lot of children after that, and I don’t know them,” smiled Jacobsen, who took the time to greet the three children.
– All possible respect
He had a great playing career as a winger in the German Handball Club and in the Danish national team. But the training life took off. Series champion with the Borg. With Reinkind in the team, they won the Bundesliga two years in a row. As manager of the Danish national team, he became the first man to lead the team to three consecutive World Championship titles.
-I have great respect for him. He has been delivering results for many years and is known as a tactically astute coach. I don't know him well personally, but the few meetings we had he was a very likeable and nice guy. “I have all the respect I can for him,” Norwegian national team manager Jonas Wille said of the man he must beat on Sunday to keep Norway's semi-final dream alive.
Willie doesn't want to talk about the possibility of reaching the semi-finals yet, but he sees opportunities for Denmark.
– In my opinion, it is the best team in the world. We have everything to win. We will destroy as much as we can to destroy the opponent and take with us the second half against the Netherlands, Willy continues.
Norway defeated the Danes in a friendly match immediately before the start of the tournament, in a match that ended in a draw. Dagbladet spoke to Danish superstars Mikkel Hansen and Matthias Guedsel. They both say they are astonished by Norway's disappointing results in the European Union, and believe the Norwegian boys belong at the top of the world.
Jacobsen is the same. He says everyone in Denmark is surprised.
– When Norway plays well, it is among the best in Europe. The tournament had become more difficult than they expected. This can happen even for the better when you appear to be a deviant, and then you can lose self-confidence and become unsure of things. Maybe that's what they were missing. But we know how good Norway is. We've had two tough games against them recently, and I expect the same on Sunday,” says Jacobsen of Sunday's game.
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