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VELUX EHF Champions League countdown, part 3: Bjerringbro-Silkeborg (DEN)

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Ready to take the challenge

The history of handball in the Danish city of Bjerringbro is a long one, with success on both national and international level. In 2005 the club merged with the club from Silkeborg – and now Bjerringbro-Silkeborg are qualified for the Group Stage of the VELUX EHF Champions League for the first time ever.

Runners-up spot to qualify

Last season they missed this goal as participants of the Wild Card Tournament (when German Rhein-Neckar Löwen went through to the Group Stage), this year their qualification was clear after they had reached the final of the Danish championship against AG Kobenhavn.

But BSV lost both finals, 27:29 on home ground and 21:30 in the world record match attended by 36,000 spectators in Parken football stadium.

Tough opponents

Despite those defeats – and "hammer opponents" in the Group Stage of the VELUX EHF Champions League (Madrid, Veszprem, Kielce and Chekhovskie Medvedi) - the objectives are high in Bjerringbro and Silkeborg: In the Danish league BSV want to go for the title and in the VELUX EHF Champions League the main goal is to go along to the Last 16.

Top squad reinforcements

To reach those objectives BSV signed some internationally experienced players like Swedish pivot Robert Arrhenius, who played for a long time in Spain and Germany and arrived from Aragon. In a preparation match against SG Flensburg-Handewitt (GER) he injured his shoulder and will miss the first matches.

Another key factor should be Audray Tuzolana, coming from Nantes. The squad consists of some more well-known names like team captain Kasper Nielsen (one of five players named Nielsen in the team), who played in Flensburg.

Between the posts they have the world’s best goalkeeping talent Niklas Landin, the rising star of the World Championships 2011 in Sweden, where Denmark secured the Silver medal, partly thanks to Landin.

Manager expects big crowds

For club director Frank Lajer it is one objective in the VELUX EHF Champions League to "make both towns Bjerringbro and Silkeborg famous throughout Europe".

He also mentions the high hopes his club have: "It is our objective is to reach the Last 16. Our group has a lot of very exiting teams with many well known players. I am sure that all these excellent teams and players will attract many Danish spectators to come to our home matches. That will definitely be good for Danish Handball and be good for our economy. I think that our participation in the VELUX EHF Champions League will professionalize our club."

Team captain respectful but ready

Team captain Kasper Nielsen speaks for himself, but also his team mates, by saying: "Everybody is looking forward to play in the most attractive and difficult international competition to see where we stand, compared to the best clubs in the world."

Nielsen adds: "We know that it is one of our clubs main objectives to participate in the VELUX EHF Champions League and we are looking forward to show our skills in this very difficult group.

It is one of the strongest groups this year and it will be exiting to see how far we already are on an international level. Our main goal is to advance from the Group Stage to the Last 16. We also know that we have to play extremely well at home to have a chance, but we are ready to take the challenge."

Nielsen’s analyse of the group opponents: "Atletico Madrid is my favourite to win the group. But a team like Füchse Berlin played a fantastic last season in the Bundesliga. Everybody knows that Veszprem always have a strong team and play incredibly strong at home. Medvedi’s trademark has always been a lot of physics and size. Also Kielce are a very good team. So it looks very difficult, but we will be ready."

Three questions to coach Carsten Albrektsen What are your expectations for the upcoming season of the VELUX EHF Champions League - concerning your objectives and your group opponents?

Carsten Albrektsen: From my point of view, Group B is by far the strongest group this season. That makes our objective, to get through to the Last 16, a very difficult one to reach. Both Veszprem and Madrid are my favourites to win the group while also Berlin and Medvedi have top class teams. Last but not least we will have to face Kielce, winners of the Wild Card Tournament. No matter how the group phase ends there will be two very strong teams leaving the VELUX EHF Champions League before the knock-out stage. What does the participation in the VELUX EHF Champions League mean to you and your club?

Carsten Albrektsen: It is the first season ever for the club to participate in the VELUX EHF Champions League and of course we are looking forward to join the big clubs in Europe. The challenge will be enormous both for our administration, the staff around the team and for all the players. What teams are your personal favourites to reach the VELUX EHF FINAL4 and for winning the title this season – and why?

Carsten Albrektsen: My personal favourites are FC Barcelona, THW Kiel, Veszprem and BM Atlectico Madrid - with Barcelona as my favourites to win the title again.

Club facts – Bjerringbro-Silkeborg (DEN)

Newcomers: Audray Tuzolana (Nantes), Espen Lie Hansen (Drammen HK), Robert Arrhenius (Aragon), Gudmundur Arni Olafsson (Haukar), Jannick Green (Aalborg Håndbold)
Left the club: Primoz Prost (Montpellier), Andreas Toudahl (Skjern Håndbold), Joakim Hykkerud (?), Akuutaneq Kreutzmann (Vejle)
Coach: Carsten Albrektsen, since 2007

Qualification for the 2011/2012 VELUX EHF Champions League season: Danish runners-up

VELUX EHF Champions League records:
Participations (including 2011/2012 season): 2
Qualification (1): 2010/2011

Further information

Find more information on Füchse Berlin HERE.

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TEXT: Björn Pazen