In a superior number, deliberately forgo a player in attack? Slovenia used this tactic in the game at the Handball World Championship against Poland. This behavior has nothing to do with arrogance. But behind this tactic lies more sophistication.

In the World Cup game between Slovenia and Poland (32:23 for Slovenia), many spectators must have been surprised at the Slovenians’ idiosyncratic tactics.


Because the Eastern Europeans repeatedly chose what appeared to be an irrational tactic at first glance: In phases in which they were outnumbered by a two-minute penalty for a Polish player, they did not use this numerical advantage.

Instead of attacking with six players, they always left one player from their team in the center circle. That’s why the Slovenians preferred to play even when they had a majority. However, this should not be taken as a sign of arrogance.

As an unnamed Slovenian player revealed to the Polish journalist Maciek Wojs, there was a clear plan behind it. “We played very badly against Hungary (a friendly before the World Cup; editor’s note) when we were six against five. But when we played five against five, we always scored. It’s easier for us, maybe because we’re fast,” said Slovenian handball player Wojs, explaining the background.

The tactical trick worked at least against the Poles. The actors of the secret favorite completed their attacks with a high percentage. It remains to be seen whether similar tactics are on the agenda for the upcoming games. At the latest when the Slovenians appear on the record.