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Löwen's manager, Thorsten Storm talks about the first ever CL season of RNL. He says that the club is still learning...

Learning quickly

Three points in the “horror group” after two very hard away matches: Rhein Neckar Löwen started their first ever Champions League season well. Manager Thorsten Storm is very satisfied, but hopes that many fans will come for the first home match on Thursday against Wisla Plock. In an exclusive interview with ehfCL.com Storm talks about the start, the problems after the Olympic Games and the early change of coach.

Eurohandball.com: A draw in Zagreb and a victory in Szeged – did you expect such a start in the Champions League?

RNL took a point from ZagrebStorm: We are very, very satisfied with these results. Everything runs perfect at the moment. We played our first ever Champions League match in Zagreb and nobody could expect a draw. With a little bit of luck we could have won the match. And our victory in Szeged afterwards was outstanding! These are great things from a team that never before played in the European “king’s class” before.

Eurohandball.com: On Thursday Löwen will play their first home match against Plock. What are your expectations?

Storm: First of all, we’re not satisfied with the expected number of spectators for the Champions League. So we changed to a smaller hall in Eppelheim. SAP Arena would be too big. We hope for more interest in our international matches. But from the sportive point of view we hope to celebrate our second victory. This would be a big step for us towards the main round.

Eurohandball.com: Your club has a lot of experienced players, but what does the Champions League mean for the club?

Storm: The Champions League is something very special; it’s like a World Championship for clubs. This is the most important stage for clubs and players, and we do not only represent our club, also Germany. This makes us very proud. To qualify for the Champions League was the biggest success in our young club’s history.

Eurohandball.com: Your team didn’t start well in the Toyota Bundesliga – what were the reasons behind?

The team have lot of experience - played the CWC Final last yearStorm: Nine players took part at the Olympic Games. Eight of them – the Germans and the Polish – came home very disappointed. Only our new left winger, Gudjon Valur Sigurdssson, had a big success taking the silver medal. But the Olympics were only the icing on the cake after a long and hard season with Bundesliga, German Cup, Cup Winners’ Cup and the European Championship. Our players were tired, but now they are back on track and they feel hungry again.

Eurohandball.com: Did this appetite come together with the new coaching duo, Wolfgang Schwenke and Christian Schwarzer, after sacking Youri Chevtsov very early?

Storm: Yes this is a reason. Youri Chevtsov was a very good coach, but as we started so badly we had to change something and we needed some new impetus. So we changed from Chevtsov to Schwenke. He’s the coach now and Christian Schwarzer is his “extended arm” on the court. It’s great for a club to have such a combination. It’s an ideal mixture for the Löwen.

Eurohandball.com: If the Löwen win against Plock, the door of the main round will be wide open. Do you already count the points to reach the next stage?

Storm: No, we always concentrate on the next match only. Our objective is to reach the main round, but as we saw the draw of our group, we knew how hard it would be to reach this stage. We have the hardest group of all. In this group everything can happen. We would be very satisfied if we win against Plock, but this wouldn’t mean qualification for the main round. There are still some hard tasks ahead. We have to find our rhythm in a schedule with matches during the week and on the weekend. We are absolute beginners in the CL, so we are still learning.

Eurohandball.com: What’s the difference between playing in the Bundesliga and playing in the Champions League?

Only top players are in the squadStorm: In the Bundesliga we could name a certain objective: to qualify for Champions League again. We need to finish on position 1 to 3 in the league. We can’t have higher objectives at the moment as Kiel and Hamburg are still far away with a bigger budget – one million Euro more than us.But in the Champions League everything can happen. We want to have fun in this competition and want to reach the main round.

Eurohandball.com: If you’re going on to the next stage, a possible main round group could include Löwen, Zagreb, Kiel and Barcelona...

Storm: This would be our biggest dream and our wish to play in such a group.

TEXT: Björn Pazen