"We enjoy every CL match“Article
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Leipzig goalkeeper Katja Schülke talks to eurohandball.com

"We enjoy every CL match“

Even if HC Leipzig lost both matches in the Champions League Main Round so far, the Germans keep the faith. Goalkeeper Katja Schülke, HCL key player, talks to eurohandball.com about the upcoming match against Győr, the experiences and expectations of the German champions.

Eurohandball.com: Leipzig is current number one in the German Bundesliga, you’ve just reached the cup quarterfinals – and in the Champions League your team’s qualified for the Main Round for the first time ever. Is it a perfect season up to now?

Leipzig players celebrate a place in the Main RoundKatja Schülke: We play very well and constantly on a high level in our national competitions. In the Champions League we enjoy single every match, but now we want to take our first points in the Main Round. Our balance is good, but we’re far from our final destination as we want to win the German title and the cup.

Eurohandball.com: How happy were you after reaching the CL Main Round?

Katja Schülke: It was a real big fun and joy. We started badly in the group phase, but we improved steadily for the last three matches and remained unbeaten against teams such as Viborg, Podravka and Byasen, which was great success. I think we deserved a place in the Main Round – and it’s incredible to be among the eight best teams of the world.

Eurohandball.com: HCL were defeated at the opening matches of the Main Round. Why did you fail twice?

Katja Schülke: We lacked international experience at both matches as we have a young team. And even our experienced players didn’t play Champions League as often as our opponents. We made too many mistakes and in contrast to national competitions, those mistakes are punished much more in the Champions League. But now we know what we have to change, I hope.

Eurohandball.com: On Sunday Leipzig will play against Győr. What do you think about your chances?

Katja Schülke: We want to take our first points. Against Larvik we had to play our home match in Dessau; now we have a real home match in our Arena in Leipzig. I think we will be close to at least one point.

Eurohandball.com: Your counterpart is Katalin Pálinger. Do you expect a goalkeeper’s duel of the highest quality?

Katja Schülke: All remaining CL teams have great goalkeepers; otherwise they wouldn’t have come so far. But I like playing against opponents with strong goalkeepers even if I don’t think that the Pálinger/Schülke duel will be decisive. I hope that the collaboration with our defense will be quite good and that we can improve in attack.

Eurohandball.com: You mentioned that your team is young. Is the Champions League Main Round something like a lesson to learn for Leipzig?

Katja Schülke: We reached the Main Round for the first time ever and it should not be the last time. We gained international experience last season in the EHF Cup finals, now we learn even more in the CL Main Round. We want to use that experience and we want to improve next season and reach Main Round again.

Eurohandball.com: In Germany you’re number one and two German teams will qualify for the next CL season. Is it clear already that HCL will play in the "king’s class" 2010/2011 again?

Katja Schülke: No, not yet. We are leading the Bundesliga table, but the title will be decided in the play-offs. And in case we miss the final, we will not qualify for the CL. But we’re the favourites and I hope we can prove it at the end. To play Champions League gives such a great motivation for us. It’s great to meet the best teams in the world.

Eurohandball.com: A lot of German players went abroad, especially to Denmark. Would you be tempted to move to another country?

Katja Schülke: My contract is valid until 2011 and I’m very happy to play in Leipzig as we reached so many objectives. And I want to be part of this development and success in the future.

TEXT: Björn Pazen