Lada Prepare For the Final: "We Want to Win the Champions League!”Article
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Lada Togliatti play finals in the Russian championship and prepare against Slagelse. Coach Gumyanov talks about the current form and expectations.

Lada Prepare For the Final: "We Want to Win the Champions League!”

Bliznova against Hypo in the semi-finalThe most successful Lada season in Europe started with pessimistic expectations from many Russian experts and fans. Some people even predicted that the campaign of the Togliattians would inevitably end in failure. The reason was the loss of head coach Trefilov who moved to Zvezda Zvenigorod, taking experienced players such as Shipilova and Romenskaya with him. However, new coach Alexey Gumyanov said that there is no use for crying and started searching for improvement. He found it in the area of tactics and psychology; in addition, some young players entirely justified the trainer’s confidence.

In the Champions League, Lada made its way to the final with no slip-ups. Gumyanov’s team won 5 matches in group B and lost only the last (to Győri AUDI ETO) but their position in the table was already secure. The Russian champions defeated Viborg in the quarter-finals (32:32, 33:31) and Hypo in the semi-finals (28:22, 29:35).

Finals in the Russian championship

Gruzdeva on goal against GyőrIn the national championship, Lada lost 3 points during the main round and took 2nd place behind Zvezda. In the quarter-final play-offs, Lada completely destroyed Zvezda-2 – 36:21 (away), 30:20 (home). Young players, such as Olga Chernoivanenko and Ekaterina Davydenko were especially good in these games. The semi-finals proved more difficult, as in the first match, Lada lost to Dinamo Volgograd – 24:28. Dinamo was the silver medalist for the last 5 seasons, and is a strong club with big ambitions, so Lada felt uncomfortable losing the first game. But Togliattians used their second-leg home advantage to full effect, putting their guests firmly in their place – 34:29, 34:27; Bliznova, Marennikova and Muraviova performed very well in these matches. Alexey Gumyanov said afterwards that his team was very tired due to a hard schedule. He hadn’t been surprised with the defeat in Volgograd, but had been sure that the overall victory would be theirs. Lada won the series 2:1, and will play Zvezda in final.

The first battle between Lada and Zvezda took place on 5th May in Togliatti, so the team didn't have much time to recover its strength before the CL final. But Togliattian players must have been in good spirit as they defeated their main rivals in Russia 33:28, leaving Evgeny Trefilov very disappointed! The second and the third (if the 3rd is necessary) matches are assigned to 26 and 27 May, but now Lada are looking forward to the Champions League final!

"We want the Champions League"

Lada coach, Alexey GumyanovAlexey Gumyanov spoke exclusively to

"We had a tough moment when we lost in Volgograd, whilst at the same moment getting news about the death of Ludmila Postnova's boyfriend. The girls were all crying. Then we defeated Dinamo twice at home. As you know, last Saturday we played against Zvezda, and also celebrated a victory. Matches with Zvenigorod’s team are not just matches for the gold for us – to win is a matter of honour for both teams. That's because there are many ex-Togliattians in Zvezda, including head coach Trefilov, and other reasons. The first half was tough and nervous, but in the second we performed very well and showed our best qualities. We are a little tired physically, but feel very well mentally. We know that Slagelse DT is a real "dream team" that has just became the Danish champion, and we are working to find the best way to match them. Rest assured, we won’t give up. We want to win the Champions League very much".

TEXT: Igor Muzyka, Time Out Magazin (