To be better than last seasonArticle
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VELUX EHF Champions League countdown, part 18: IK Sävehof (SWE)

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To be better than last season

Three points from ten Group Stage matches was the result of their participation in the VELUX EHF Champions League 2010/11, now Swedish champions IK Sävehof start the new season aiming to ‘perform better than last year’.

But the Swedes from the Gothenburg region lost their top scorer, as Jonathan Stenbäcken left to the German team Füchse Berlin.

Replacement back in Sweden

In contrast, Sävehof can now count on Fredrik Larsson, who returned to his home country after playing in Germany and Spain.

And already during the Qualification tournament in Vienna, when Sävehof beat Besiktas and Minsk to qualify for the Group Stage, Larsson was a key player for IK.

Young players join the squad

The organizing club of the world famous Partille Cup once again take advantage of their youth program, as Gabriel de Santis and Joel Forsberg proceed from the Sävehof youth academy to the senior’s team, which participates in the VELUX EHF Champions League for the fourth time.

Two foreign reinforcements

Except for two (new) players the squad only consist of players from Sweden. Alen Kulenovic arrived from Bosnia and goalkeeper Jesper Parker (coming from Kärra) is the first ever British player to be part of the VELUX EHF Champions League.

Swedish international pivot Niclas Barud currently is recovering from a knee injury, but IK Sävehof hope that he will return when the competition starts.

Tough opponents

And the nearly all Swedish team will see great opponents in the Group Stage, as they face defending champions Barcelona, record participants Zagreb and internationally experienced teams like Chambery or Schaffhausen.

Three questions to coach Mikael Franzén What are your expectations for the upcoming season of the VELUX EHF Champions League – concerning your objectives and your group opponents?

Mikael Franzén: We are very pleased about playing in the VELUX EHF Champion League again, and in our group of course we rate Barcelona as the best team. Kadetten, Bosna, Zagreb, Chambery are very strong, too, but Barcelona are the favourites as defending champions. Our possibilities to progress are limited, but we hope that we can perform better than last season. What does the participation in the VELUX EHF Champions League mean to you and your club?

Mikael Franzén: We will play against the best team of the world, so of course it is a great opportunity. We are proud to be part of this competition. What teams are your personal favourites to reach the VELUX EHF FINAL4 and for winning the title this season – and why?

Mikael Franzén: Teams like Montpellier, Kiel, Hamburg and Barcelona are very strong. We met Montpellier last season, and I think that they maybe have the best defence in the world.

Kiel and Hamburg are the leading German teams with a lot of world class players and strong squads. Barcelona as defending champions are of course one of the favourites.

In my opinion three more teams can catch up to those favourites and have a good chance to reach the VELUX EHF FINAL4: Veszprém I would like to get there because of their supporters and due to their hard work during the last years.

And of course Atletico Madrid is a strong team with lot of experienced players. And maybe AG Kobenhavn have a squad to reach the VELUX EHF FINAL4 this season, too.

Club facts – IK Sävehof (SWE)

Newcomers: Joel Forsberg (Sävehof Academy), Alen Kulenovic (Gradacac/BIH), Jesper Parker (HF Kärra), Gabriel de Santis (Sävehof Academy), Fredrik Larsson (Aragon/ESP)

Left the club: Jonathan Stenbäcken (Füchse Berlin/GER), Johan Jacobsson (Aalborg/DEN), Axell Pontus (IF Guif), Daniel Bergquist (Fyllingen/NOR), Marcus Tobiasson (Önnereds HK)

Coach: Mikael Franzén, since 2010

Qualification for the 2011/2012 VELUX EHF Champions League season: Winner of the Qualification Tournament 2, Swedish Champion

VELUX EHF Champions League records:
Participations (including 2011/2012 season): 4
Last 16 (1): 2004/2005
Group Stage (2): 2005/2006, 2010/2011

Other EC records:
Challenge Cup Semifinal 2002/2003

Swedish champion: 2004, 2005, 2010, 2011
No cup competition in Sweden

Further information

Find more information on IK Sävehof HERE.

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TEXT: Björn Pazen