Barbosa: "No margin for error"Article
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Itxako´s sharpshooter Sandy Barbosa considers the game against Larvik as a final.

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Barbosa: "No margin for error"

Last year Itxako of Spain were the 'surprise' team of the EHF Champions League. This year coach Ambros Martín´s team is in a tough situation at the halfway stage of the Main Round.

With only one point in their account, each remaining match will be of vital importance. Portuguese international Alexandrina Barbosa, ranked third in the current top scorer list, is very well aware of the situation. 

The 25-year-old left-back analyzes her side´s performance in the EHF Champions League and talks about the decisive match against reigning champions Larvik. Surprisingly Itxako were defeated by FC Midtjylland last weekend by a single goal. How do you reflect on that match in Denmark?

Alexandrina Barbosa: At this stage all the teams are able to defeat the other, as we are all Top 8 teams. Anything can happen and games are often decided by small factors. Despite being the bottom team in the group, Itxako have one of the strongest defences in women´s handball. Is it something that you work hard on in training? 

Alexandrina Barbosa: Itxako is not an inferior team, as we showed last year by reaching the final. The defensive level we’ve achieved is through the training that we do. With Nerea Pena missing from the back-line, the variety in attack for Itxako has lessened. How do you see the current shape of the team physically and mentally after such a bad Main Round start?

Alexandrina Barbosa: Nerea's loss is a big blow, as she’s such a quality player, but my team-mates and I try to cover her absence by filling in wherever necessary on the court. There are still chances to reach the Top 4, so what can give you and your colleagues the motivation for the next three rounds, and how do you see Itxako´s chances of advancing to the semi-final?

Alexandrina Barbosa: There are still possibilities, but we have no margin for error. We regard Saturday's game as a final in our minds. We only contemplate winning. In your opinion, what’s the big difference between last year´s and this year´s Itxako?

Alexandrina Barbosa: My feeling is that all the other teams have studied us and our game play in much more detail than they did last year. All the teams are aware of the fact that we were last year´s finalists, so that's a great achievement for Itxako. You´re a fantastic athlete and you bring some special skills to handball. Why did you become a professional in the sport, and what made you decide on handball?

Alexandrina Barbosa: I've always liked team sports more than individual sports, and handball attracted me a lot.

TEXT: Márk Hegedüs