“Always a great atmosphere”Article
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Eurohandball.com talks to Hamburg’s Croat Blazenko Lackovic about Champions League and World championship.

“Always a great atmosphere”

From the World Championship straight to the Champions League: 10 days after Blazenko Lackovic won the silver medal in his home country, Croatia, he starts with his club HSV Hamburg against Portland San Antonio in the CL main round. Read an exclusive interview for Eurohandball.com before the match on Wednesday and read how Lackovic feels after the WCh and what his objectives for this CL season are.

Eurohandball.com: You lost the WCh final against France on home court – how big is the disappointment about the Silver medal?

Lackovic: Right after the final is was very hard for me, it really hurt. But one day later we recognised that we lost against a better team, as the Frenchmen deserved this title. We don’t have to take the blame as we gave all we could. Maybe we could have played better in the last 15 minutes of this final, but in the end we’re satisfied with the silver medal.

Lackovic is key player of Hamburg and of the Croatian national teamEurohandball.com: How hard was it for you to return into “normal” handball life after such an atmosphere in your home country?

Lackovic: It wasn’t hard. We enjoyed whole January in Croatia, we enjoyed the support of our spectators, of the whole country. Otherwise we were pressurised in Croatia. After this great event I enjoyed the return to Hamburg – and the success in my club.

Eurohandball.com: How was the reception in Zagreb, where you played a few years before changing to Germany?

Lackovic: It was unbelievable. 50,000 people celebrated us in the city centre. We knew this enthusiasm from other events before, but this time it was something very special. In my home town, Novi Marof, 1,000 people gave me a warm welcome when I arrived with my silver medal.

Eurohandball.com: What are the differences between the two handball cities Zagreb and Hamburg?

Lackovic: This is hard to explain. The spectators in Zagreb live for the international matches. 150 fans come to domestic league matches, 10.000 come to CL matches and make a great atmosphere. In Hamburg you have more than 10.000 spectators in the Color Line Arena for every match – either in league, cup or Champions League. The atmosphere is always great.

Eurohandball.com: After last season you changed from Flensburg to Hamburg. How did you settle in to now?

Lackovic: I’m very satisfied, as it is exactly the situation I had expected and hoped for. I play for a fantastic club, I feel very comfortable here. Hamburg is a great city where you have a great number of possibilities to do. Me, my wife and my family have everything we need and want.

Eurohandball.com: Only ten days after the WCh final against France you play with Hamburg on Wednesday against Portland in the Champions League. Your club start with 4:0 points – so will it be easy to qualify for the quarterfinal?

Lackovic: It would be a great mistake if we would think this way. We have to be highly concentrated in the matches against Portland and Chekhov. These are absolute top clubs, so we have to take care – as everything is possible. The only thing that counts is to take enough points to qualify for the quarterfinal.

Eurohandball.com: Last season Hamburg played their first ever season in the Champions League, reached the semi-final against Ciudad Real and closely missed the finals. Does HSV now have more international experience to reach the finals?

Lackovic (smiling): I hope so. But if we talk about the finals, we have to win the semi-finals before.

Eurohandball.com: Do the HSV rank among the favourite teams in CL this season? And what teams are your personal favourites?

Lackovic:Yes, we belong to the group of favourites, but the competition is very strong. Besides HSV, I believe Kiel, Ciudad Real and Zagreb have good chances to win the title. For Barcelona it will be hard, but even they have a chance.

Eurohandball.com: What are your objectives with HSV this season?

Lackovic: It’s very easy: we want to win every match and we don’t talk about objectives right now. Maybe we can win a title this season. Björn Pazen

TEXT: Björn Pazen