Heinevetter: Well-balanced and full of strengthArticle
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German goalkeeper expects an electric atmosphere in the first quarter final between Füchse Berlin and Ademar Leon.

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Heinevetter: Well-balanced and full of strength

He has plenty of experience in lifting trophies, having won the EHF Cup with his former club SC Magdeburg, but now goalkeeper Silvio Heinevetter hopes to reach the final of the VELUX EHF Champions League.

But before the VELUX EHF FINAL4, Heinevetter and Füchse Berlin have to deal with Spanish side Real Ademar Leon. Before the first leg in the "Leon’s den" the German international talked to www.ehfCL.com about their chances, the audience and the current form of his team.

ehfCL.com: Is this season proving to be the most exciting of your career?

Silvio Heinevetter: Every season is exciting, thrilling and important. But currently you have to forget what has gone before and look ahead, as we have vitally important domestic and international games ahead of us. But of course it is exciting, especially when you fight for your club, for your spectators and your city to reach the next step in the VELUX EHF Champions League.

ehfCL.com: Did you expect to get the chance to reach the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in Füchse's first ever season in this major competition?

Silvio Heinevetter: After the draw for the Group Stage we had to recognise that it would be very tough to reach the Last 16 facing opponents like Atletico Madrid, MKB Veszprem, Vive Targi Kielce or Chekhovskie Medvedi. So to proceed to the knockout stage was a great success, yet topped by eliminating HSV Hamburg in the Last 16.

But the VELUX EHF FINAL4 is still a long way off, as those quarter finals with Reale Ademar Leon will be extremely tough. Both teams are very similar, and Leon is known to be a top contender on home ground. In my opinion the form on the day will prove decisive in both legs. Considering the first leg is at Leon we would appreciate a draw like a victory.

ehfCL.com: What makes Füchse Berlin so strong this season?

Silvio Heinevetter: The quality we show has not just happened this season, it has been coming for a while. Our team is well-balanced and one of our strengths is to have players coming from the bench, sometimes only for five to ten minutes, fitting exactly into the way we play, improving the team. We do not have a huge squad, but everything is balanced. And our defence is another key to our success.

ehfCL.com: A third-ranked Spanish team face a third-ranked German team – which league is stronger in your opinion?

Silvio Heinevetter: German Bundesliga is far better, despite the top teams from the Asobal League having big names like Barcelona, Madrid, Leon or Valladolid. The strength and depth of the Bundesliga is much stronger, in Spain one of the top four teams would never lose against a relegation battler as happened in Germany not only once.

ehfCL.com: Is it hard for you and your team mates to switch from the Bundesliga to VELUX EHF Champions League?

Silvio Heinevetter: We just lost at Flensburg, and another domestic match is waiting before the clash in Leon. We can take motivation from those big games, but we should not have another lapse as this could cause a real black shadow on the whole season.

ehfCL.com: How much respect do you have for the "Leon’s den"?

Silvio Heinevetter: This arena is exceptional, the spectators are very vociferous and we expect an electric atmosphere – so we have respect, but will try to focus on our performance, not on the audience.

ehfCL.com: Your team won the away games at Veszprem and Hamburg – does this prove that Berlin is strong enough to take the points at away games?

Silvio Heinevetter: I hope that we can cope with all opponents even in away matches, but some matches like our Bundesliga defeat against THW Kiel or the VELUX EHF Champions League defeat at Kielce have proven that we still have to improve. We have reached a certain level, but to be successful against top teams all players have to give top performances, so our chances at Leon are 50:50.

ehfCL.com: How important is the support of your fans in the re-match?

Silvio Heinevetter: We hope for a sell-out, tickets are selling like never before for one of our matches. Nobody wants to miss out on the quarter final of the VELUX EHF Champions League – and thanks to our victories against Hamburg we have the advantage of a re-match on home soil. To have an enthusiastic audience is essential in such crucial games.

ehfCL.com: What does it mean to have Spanish player Iker Romero in your squad for giving advices about Leon?

Silvio Heinevetter: Iker played in Leon, so his knowledge of the Spanish league and Ademar is huge. But we all know the players and the team from international encounters, nothing is secret. But in any case Iker is an important player for us on the field, especially in decisive games, we hope that he can give the main points.

ehfCL.com: Do you expect a Spanish-German quartet at the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in Cologne?

Silvio Heinevetter: We have no influence on the draw, and our primary thought was about our own fate. In my opinion Atletico Madrid and THW Kiel are clear favourites in their quarter finals. AG Kobenhavn have a chance against FC Barcelona Intersport.

TEXT: Björn Pazen