The 2019 World Men's Handball Championship has been quite the adventure for Germany, but the team's pursuit of a spot in the final and a chance of gold came to an end in the semifinals.
Germany's fairytale came to a swift and brutal end in Hamburg as a stronger and more efficient Norway side overcame the hosts 31-25.
In an intense and physical first period, Germany made a strong start but Norway battled back. Neither nation was able to take a clear lead, but it was Norway who kept asking the questions of Germany. Thanks to a last-second seven-meter throw, Norway edged ahead 14-12.
The intensity continued in the second period as Germany sought to take control. Uwe Gensheimer, Germany's superstar, led the charge, but Germany lacked an edge in front of goal and couldn't find a way through a stubborn Norway defense. In attack, Norway showed Germany the meaning of efficiency and, with six minutes played in the second half, were ahead by four.
Two years ago, Germany, fresh off being crowned European champions the year before, were shocked in the Round of 16 by Qatar. This year, in front of a raucous crowd in Hamburg, they were desperate to make the final. Every time they pulled close though, Norway found a way to keep the gap.
With time running out, Germany got the gap down to two but by the time the final minute ticked over, Germany found themselves down four again and the game was up. Poor composure in attack and committing too many penalties in defense cost Germany, in a game that Norway deserved to win.
Germany now face France in a fight for the bronze, but the real question is whether or not the sport will be able to retain the level of interest that has developed around the country in recent weeks.