Pascal Hens: No unbeatable teamsArticle
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Read an exclusive interview with Hamburg’s world champion, Pascal Hens, who talks to before the CL semi-finals against Ciudad Real.

Pascal Hens: No unbeatable teams

HSV Hamburg just missed the first possible title of the season after losing the German Cup final against THW Kiel on Sunday. On Sunday they will have the next chance to prove their class in the semi-final first leg in Ciudad Real. Hens and Vranjes: odd coupleIn an exclusive interview with German world champion Pascal Hens talks about the chances of his club – and he believes: “There are no unbeatable teams”. HSV Hamburg are playing in the Champions League for the first time ever and your team reached the semi-finals. Did you expect this?

Hens: Our objective was to win every match in the CL and to get as far as possible. It plays no role that it’s our first ever CL season. The last matches in the Main Round were very tough because we had many injured players. But I think it’s well-deserved that we reached the semi-final. What is the special strength of your team this season?

Hens: Our big advantage is a strong team spirit. Especially in the last weeks we had to hold together very tightly, as we did not have two players for each position due to the injuries. Every player had to try hard and had to give everything. It seems that Hamburg are successful against Spanish teams: last season you have beaten Leon in the final of the Cup Winners’ Cup, this season you have beaten Portland in the CL Main Round. Is this a psychological advantage for HSV?

Hens: We know the way Spanish teams play after our matches against Leon and Portland. However, I don’t think this is an advantage for us against Ciudad Real. It’s never easy to play against Spanish teams, because they belong to the best teams of the world. And every match is different and has to be played before you speak about an advantage.

Disagreement in Many experts say that Ciudad Real are unbeatable in knock out matches. Do you agree?

Hens: There are no unbeatable teams – not even in the semi-finals of the Champions League. Ciudad have world class players, but also Portland, Zagreb and Flensburg have such and we knocked out these teams. We enjoy playing these two games in Spain and Hamburg and we will give all that we can to show that Ciudad Real are not unbeatable. How do you rate your own performance this season?

Hens: I don’t like to rate my performance, this should be done by others. But for the whole team it seems to be a really good season.

All defences keep an eye on Besides the Champions League, Hamburg still have the chance to win the German title. What do you think about the chances?

Hens: We focus on reaching one of the first three places in the Bundesliga to qualify for the Champions League again. This is our main objective and therefore we have to fight hard until the last match day. But we will play against Kiel on home soil and after that we’ll see... Everybody is talking about “stress and burden” on players these days. What’s your opinion as a national player and a club player?

Hens: Especially after the Final Four of the German Cup it’s hard to play Bundesliga on Wednesday and CL semi-final next Sunday. This big burden causes a series of injuries for us. No player can cope with such a burden for a whole season. The people responsible in the federations and leagues should review the calendar and give the players a longer break during the season. Which competition – Bundesliga or Champions League – has priority for you?

The Danish Jörgensen trying to get Hens back on the groundHens: You can’t say that one competition is more important than the other. Only with a high-level performance in the Bundesliga can you qualify again for the CL. We cannot save energy for the CL in the Bundesliga, because this would mean that we would decrease our chances in this competition. Also every match in the Bundesliga is hard. In 2007 you were world champion with Germany and EC winner with Hamburg. What title will you win in 2008?

Hens: Everything is still possible except for the German Cup. But in the Bundesliga it will be very hard to win.

TEXT: Björn Pazen