Close to the big opponentArticle
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Race for the EHF FINAL4: Interview with HSV Hamburg coach Martin Schwalb.

»EHF CL Channel »2009-10 Men's News

Close to the big opponent

HSV Hamburg are disappointed about the draw but the Germans will try everything to beat Ciudad Real in the CL quarterfinals, even after five defeats in the last six matches in three years. Hamburg Coach Martin Schwalb sees a 50:50 chance against the Spanish reigning champion. What was your reaction after the draw?

Martin Schwalb: It was our wish not to play against an opponent that we have already met in the group phase, because EHF Champions League normally means diversity. But now we have to cope with this situation. It’s a quarterfinal, at that stage we have reached there are normally only "big" teams left in the draw pots. We had to take whatever opponent we received. Your team lost both matches in the Group Phase against Ciudad Real – what did you learn from those defeats?

Martin Schwalb: After the first match in Hamburg we came one step closer, as we could show in the rematch in Ciudad Real. In this second match we learnt our lessons like we do after every match. The whole season is a learning process for my team. How big is the distance between Hamburg and Ciudad Real on sportive ground?

Martin Schwalb: I don’t know the distance in this phase, let’s wait and see what going on in the quarterfinals. Ciudad coach Talant Dujshebaev called HSV "the best team in the world after Ciudad" – what do you think about that?

Martin Schwalb: Every handball fan wants to see a high class duel between two of the best teams in the world. Otherwise we wouldn’t meet in the quarterfinals of the Champions League. We enjoy hearing those compliments, but it doesn’t change anything in our daily training routines. Is there a favourite in those matches or are the chances 50:50?

Martin Schwalb: It’s 50:50, in the quarterfinals of the CL everything is possible. What are Ciudad Real’s strengths?

Martin Schwalb: The whole team, they don’t have a certain outstanding top shooter, but every single player scores three or four times in every match. They have so many alternatives in offense, and additionally it’s very hard to break their defence. Is there any special preparation for the "duel of the pivot giants" Igor Vori and Didier Dinart?

Martin Schwalb: From the sportive point of view we’ll see a match with two of the best line players in the world. HSV lost their last CL match in the Last 16 stage against Kielce on home soil. Has this result been a warning at the right time or a single failure?

Martin Schwalb: We want to win every match, but some factors in this match were the reason, why Kielce won in Hamburg. We have analyzed our mistakes and will try to avoid them in future. Your team just won the German cup. Is this an additional motivation for the EHF Champions League or do you only look ahead and forget the past?

Martin Schwalb: Of course it’s a special motivation for us, because this title was an affirmation of our strength. But we won’t rest on this title, we always want to improve and focus on the next steps. You signed Vori and Domagoj Duvnjak before the start of this season – is the interaction of your team perfect now or do HSV still have certain weaknesses?

Martin Schwalb: I see every match from my own point of view. This is the original job of a coach. And I have noted that our team harmonized well, looking at the latest results and the current season. But it doesn’t mean that I twiddle my thumbs now, as there is a lot of work ahead. If you could only choose one title: Champions League or German championship, which one would you pick?

Martin Schwalb: You’re so kind that I can choose, but this is not the way it works. Every competition and every match are completely different. And we have to focus on all of them and work hard to achieve some titles. Nothing runs on its own. Or will Hamburg even win the triple after becoming German cup winner?

Martin Schwalb: We didn’t mention this triple as our objective for this season. We want to keep our chances in all competitions we play. And in the end we’ll see, what we have achieved.


TEXT: Björn Pazen