Great matches make great playersArticle
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Montpellier’s world star Nikola Karabatić aims to win all upcoming home games.

»EHF CL Channel »2010-11 Men's News

Great matches make great players

Six goals, some sensational passes and an unexpected clear away victory: Nikola Karabatić was really happy after his international comeback with Montpellier MAHB at KIF Kolding last Saturday, following his five-week injury break. Now the French former World Handball Player of the Year hopes that his team is going to improve even more after the re-start of the VELUX EHF Champions League. "We want to become number one in our group," Karabatić says in this interview with Did you expect a victory with an eight-goal difference in Kolding?

Nikola Karabatić: No, because I knew from a lot of matches before that Kolding used to be a strong home team. But our defence stood strong, and in attack we didn’t miss many chances. So from your personal point of view this was the perfect restart after your injury in Veszprém?

Nikola Karabatić: I hope this match was the starting whistle for the whole team.

The home defeat against Hamburg really hurt, and in Veszprém we were unlucky with a close defeat and some serious injuries – now we’ve taken back those lost points from Kolding.

If we’d lost in Denmark, we wouldn’t have had any chance to become number one in this really strong group. Montpellier, Hamburg and Kolding each have six points, and Veszprém is in the lead with ten. What has to happen for Montpellier to finish the group in first place?

Nikola Karabatić: Firstly, we have to win all of our next three home matches: against Kolding on Sunday (which will be hard), Sävehof and Presov.

Our last match will be the key game, when we host Veszprém. We want to take revenge for the defeat in Hungary.

And maybe Veszprém will also lose some points in Kolding or in Hamburg. Besides Group A with my former club Kiel our group is the strongest one – and a lot of things can happen until the end of the Group Stage. Your objective is to win this group because of the upcoming rounds?

Nikola Karabatić: Yes, that’s right. We want to become number one, as then, the base for the Last 16 and the Quarterfinal is theoretically – and I also hope also practically – better.

If we finish third or fourth, the chances of reaching Cologne as our final destination are very small. You mentioned the VELUX EHF FINAL4. Is it a dream which can become reality for Montpellier this year after just failing last season?

Nikola Karabatić: It hadn’t been our objective to go to the EHF FINAL4 last season, as we had a quite new team, with Vid Kavtičnik and me among the newcomers.

But in the end we felt really bitter about missing this great opportunity against Chekhovski Medvedi in the penalty shoot-out. It was especially bad for me, Vid and Michaël Guigou. We couldn’t help the team as we sat in the tribune due to injuries. We had it in our own hands.

Of course we want to go on to the VELUX EHF FINAL4 this season, as we like to meet great teams on the court. If we finish first or second in our group, we can achieve this goal. But even when you finish second, you can have bad luck in the draw and you have to play against Barcelona or some other world-class team.

Success, especially in the VELUX EHF Champions League, is often a matter of luck, too. You mentioned Barcelona, but you could also meet Kiel in the VELUX EHF Champions League…

Nikola Karabatić: Kiel is a team that’s full of world-class players, and I really would enjoy meeting my former team – it’s the same with matches against Hamburg, Ciudad Real or Veszprém.

Only great matches make great players.

But we should not talk about the upcoming parts of the VELUX EHF Champions League, as five matches of the Group Stage have still to be played.

TEXT: Björn Pazen