Schwalb looks ahead to all-German duelArticle
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Former German national team player Martin Schwalb talks about the key to success and the differences and similarities between the teams.

»EHF CL Channel »2011-12 Men's News

Schwalb looks ahead to all-German duel

For several years Martin Schwalb coached HSV Hamburg, but after winning the German championship in June 2011 he moved from the bench to the office, becoming director and President of the club. But after Per Carlen was fired as HSV coach in December, Schwalb has been supporting interim coach Jens Häusler in preparing for games. Ahead of the VELUX EHF Champions League Last 16 match at Füchse Berlin on Sunday, it has even been suggested that Schwalb will return on the bench at the side of Häusler.

In this interview with, former German national team player Schwalb talks about this clash, the key to success and the differences and similarities between these two German teams. A German-German match-up in an international competition – this draw is surely not what you had hoped for?

Martin Schwalb: You cannot choose what you want in draws. Of course the VELUX EHF Champions League is interesting because of the international character and opponents, and we would have liked to meet our former player Iwan Ursic at Kadetten Schaffhausen. But we were not surprised to draw Füchse Berlin, as the chance had been 33 per cent – and now we have to take it.

Schwalb460 In the VELUX EHF Champions League HSV Hamburg is still unbeaten with nine victories in 10 matches. Why do your team have more stability in international matches than in the Bundesliga, in which you rank 11 points below THW Kiel?

Martin Schwalb: It is true that in the Bundesliga more defeats occurred than we would have liked. But I can’t fix the fact that we are more successful in the VELUX EHF Champions League and took the Group Phase victory for the first time in five years. It is our big objective to play more consistently for the rest of the season, no matter if we play in Bundesliga or VELUX EHF Champions League – and we have to show the real face of HSV. You faced your upcoming VELUX EHF Champions League opponent Füchse Berlin twice in the Bundesliga and the matches ended 23:24 and 26:25 from your point of view. Do you expect more close matches now?

Martin Schwalb: Exactly, as the two league matches had shown. And it is a different matter now as it is not only for two points, but for qualification for the quarter finals of the VELUX EHF Champions League. If we could replicate the results from our league encounters we would have been through to the next round. And this of course is our aim and we will fight for it. Your team have the second leg on home ground – is this a decisive factor?

Martin Schwalb: It is an advantage, yes, and we worked hard for it by winning the Group Phase without a defeat. In our home arena we are unbeaten in the last two seasons. But certainly this is no guarantee to beat Füchse, as we have to work hard to continue this series in every match. But to be supported by our great fans can be an advantage in the second leg. HSV Hamburg are participating in the VELUX EHF Champions League for the fifth time, in every year you reached the quarter-finals, three times you were even part of the semi-finals. Is this your season’s objective again?

Martin Schwalb: The next round is always our next objective – and in contrast to the last four years we cannot meet Ciudad Real again in the knockout stage, a team against whom we failed so often. To be honest: We want to reach the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in Cologne and we can build the base in the Last 16. But is never an easy way to reach the final. Füchse Berlin are newcomers to the VELUX EHF Champions League – do your team have the bigger international experience?

Martin Schwalb: Even if Füchse have their first ever international season, by looking at their squad they have a huge number of experienced national team players, so you can’t say that they lack international experience. Füchse stood strong in a hard group and they will do all they can to be part of the VELUX EHF Champions League as long as they can. It was the same when we played our first season in the VELUX EHF Champions League – so we are aware of this. What are pros and cons of both teams?

Martin Schwalb: I do not want to talk much about the pros and cons. If you play on this level and especially in this stage of this competition little things can decide who wins or loses. What those little things will be, we can mention after both encounters. Füchse manager Bob Hanning had been your forerunner as coach of HSV Hamburg – does the past play any role in this match?

Martin Schwalb: No, it is not something unusual that HSV and Füchse face each other. This match-up has been played out many times in the German league or the German cup in previous years. And at HSV we choose to look to the present and the future, not the past.

TEXT: Björn Pazen