Respect, but no fearArticle
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Topscorer Filip Jícha tells us about the upcoming clash between Kiel and Barcelona.

»EHF CL Channel »2009-10 Men's News

Respect, but no fear

For more than a decade matches between THW Kiel and FC Barcelona are some of the greatest duels in international handball. This Sunday both teams will meet again in the Sparkassen-Arena in Kiel.

Kiel won the first match in Palau Blau Grana in Barcelona with a score of 30:27 and is currently leading Main Round Group D, one point ahead of "Barca". Both teams are already qualified for the last 16, but aside the glory of winning, this duel is decisive for the final ranking of both and has a crucial impact on the next draws.

Czech international Filip Jícha was the top scorer of the EURO in Austria and also awarded most valuable player. Right after returning to Kiel, he was voted "Handball Player of the Year" in Germany.

In contrast to his personal success, Kiel had some problems with the re start after the EURO break: They lost to Gummersbach in the German Cup and were very lucky to beat the Rhein Neckar Löwen in the Bundesliga.

Before the "clash of the titans" THW left back Filip Jícha talks to about the highlights, Kiel’s chances and the many awards he received in the last few weeks. Why couldn’t Kiel start too well after the EURO?

Filip Jícha: It has been a long time since we played together, so we need some time to find our rhythm again. In the cup match in Gummersbach the defence played poor, after that we improved a little and took two important points at the Löwen. We have three days now to get ready for the match against Barcelona. Is it still something special to meet Barcelona?

Filip Jícha: This match has been a real classic for years. To play in the Champions League is great, but to meet Barcelona in the Champions League is something very special. It’s our first home game after the EURO break, so we’ll have a great atmosphere in the Sparkassen-Arena. The players enjoy this match just like the fans. It’ll be a special experience for everyone. Kiel won at Palau Blau Grana; does that make you the favourite in the rematch?

Filip Jícha: We’re not the favourite, both teams play on eye level. But we have the power, the will and the potential to beat Barcelona again. The situation before this match is the same as before the first encounter: We had a bad game in German league, but then we showed our real strength in Barcelona. I hope, we can repeat that. We all have greatest respect for Barca, but this respect doesn’t mean fear. We’ll have to improve to our first two matches this year, but we can win, even as we all know that a big piece of workmanship lies ahead of us. By winning over Barcelona the chances for THW to finish the group as number one will rise extremely. How important is that to you and your team mates?

Filip Jícha: Extremely important, it’s not only an honour to rank ahead of Barcelona, but by looking at the upcoming draws for last 16 and quarterfinals the group winner might have some crucial advantages. So we’re eager to win, as it’s our objective to become number one in the group. You were the top scorer at the EURO, now you’re the top scorer in the Kiel matches again. Is this a coincidence?

Filip Jícha: Maybe, I don’t know. By looking at the Löwen match I was the top scorer, but I missed so many chances and wasn’t satisfied with my performance. And I don’t mind completely how many goals I score. We play as a team and we win as a team. Maybe somebody else will be the top scorer against Barcelona. But if we win, it’s totally equal, who scores how many goals. You received a lot of awards in the last weeks: EURO top scorer, Most Valuable Player of the EURO and now German Handball Player of the Year. Did you expect the German award?

Filip Jícha: No, never. I was totally surprised, when I was told that I’m the German Handball Player of the Year. This makes me proud and is a very special honour for me. But in my opinion the team counts, not a single player. If I could exchange those awards against the direct qualification for the Champions League Final4, I would do it right here. To have success with the team is more important than a personal award.

TEXT: Björn Pazen