"We can beat Kiel"Article
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Race for the EHF FINAL4: Interview with Rhein-Neckar Löwen coach Ola Lindgren.

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"We can beat Kiel"

It’s Kiel again! Like in last season’s Champions League semi-finals, Rhein Neckar Löwen meet THW Kiel in this season’s quarterfinals. A confident Löwen coach Ola Lindgren sees a good chance to eliminate the favourite, as his team is in good form. Even the fact that Kiel has the home right in the second leg match doesn’t necessarily have to be a disadvantage, says Lindgren, who is also the coach of the Swedish national team.

eurohandball.com: What was your first reaction on the draw?

Ola Lindgren: Already beforehand it was obvious that we were going to have a very strong opponent in the quarterfinals. We were hoping not to meet another German team. But even as Kiel is the favourite, we do believe in our chance.

eurohandball.com: In the German cup final your team lost unluckily with one goal against HSV Hamburg. Does that still have a negative influence on your upcoming duels with Kiel?

Ola Lindgren: No, the opposite is the case. We can be proud of our performance against Hamburg. I was very satisfied with our matches, maybe not with the last minutes of the final. This match gives us hope and confidence, so that we can defeat Kiel.

eurohandball.com: It’s not the first match between Löwen and Kiel: Last season your team was eliminated by THW in the Champions League semis, this season Löwen lost twice against Kiel in the Bundesliga. How do you rate your chances this time?

Ola Lindgren: You can’t always keep looking back on history, so we are looking ahead. Now we have two new matches, that means two new challenges. We have learned from this season’s league matches against THW, and have also improved a lot since then.

eurohandball.com: Some of your players were directly affected by the air flight situation and over Europe. What is the latest on Löwen’s roster situation?

Ola Lindgren: All our Icelandic players, who participated in a tournament in their home country, arrived on Tuesday morning. I arrived from Sweden on Monday evening, so it’s looking good. Fortunately we have a big squad and can compensate missing players quite well. But I don’t think that Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson will be able to play, he just returned from rehab on Iceland.

eurohandball.com: You know THW Kiel very well, is that an advantage or a disadvantage?

Ola Lindgren: It’s always a matter how you look at it. Of course we know a lot about Kiel but nowadays you can get all relevant information about all opponents very easily. I think it is a pity that two German teams have to meet in this stage of the competition and not later. We are for sure going to see a duel of two top teams, that once again might be decided by little things. Like for instance the day form of the goalkeepers. We know that we have a chance and we want to take it.

eurohandball.com: What are the strengths of Kiel?

Ola Lindgren: Thierry Omeyer is an outstanding goalkeeper. THW have a lot of exceptional individualists like Jicha or Narcisse, who both can decide matches on their own.

eurohandball.com: So your team doesn’t need a special motivation before the quarterfinals?

Ola Lindgren: Of course not. It’s a quarterfinal of the Champions League, and Champions League always means something very special, no matter what team you play against. We have to prepare optimally and concentrated, and we’ll have to find the right tactics. In the offence we need to play with consequence, reduce the number of mistakes. And we count on easy goals with our counter attacks.

eurohandball.com: With the second leg played in Kiel, what result does your team need on Sunday to qualify for the EHF FINAL4?

Ola Lindgren: The quarterfinals will not be decided this Sunday, but in Kiel. But for the Löwen it’s not a disadvantage to play at home first, as we often play more stable and concentrated in away matches. We can win in Kiel.

eurohandball.com: How do rate the previous performances of your team in the CL?

Ola Lindgren: Nine victories, two draws and only one defeat in Veszprem. The results are looking good, even as the two draws at home against Kielce and Velenje maybe cost us the group victory. But then again our two victories in the Last 16 against Valladolid make me feel confident. We could prove our brilliant form in these matches.

eurohandball.com: Which four teams do you expect to qualify to the EHF FINAL4 in Cologne?

Ola Lindgren: This is a very tough question. Looking on the quarterfinals only Montpellier is in a favourite role against Chekhovskie Medvedi, all the other three matches are completely open.

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TEXT: Björn Pazen