Rutenka looking forward to facing old teammatesArticle
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Barcelona's attacking weapon speaks to about the upcoming Match of the Week and facing old friends in Berlin

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Rutenka looking forward to facing old teammates

FC Barcelona Intersport’s results in the in 2012/13 VELUX EHF Champions League have been quite impressive so far. The Spanish team won seven times in as many games, but face their toughest exam in Group D, as they travel to Berlin to face Füchse on Sunday, 10 February.

The German club has two former Barcelona players in their squad, Iker Romero and Konstantin Igropulo, which adds to the intrigue of the upcoming game.

Several key players left Barcelona last season, but still the team manages very well. Their main attacking weapon is Siarhei Rutenka, a 31-year-old Belarusian who has already scored 29 times in the competition this season. Before Barca's trip to Berlin, Rutenka speaks to Do you think that the match in Berlin will be the most difficult in this VELUX EHF Champions League campaign so far?
Siarhei Rutenka: One of the hardest, that’s for sure. Füchse are a very good team and they play at home. I think in Berlin they will look better than in Barcelona.

Another problem is that many players on both our team and Berlin's took part in the World Championship. We had a number of tough games there, and it is not so easy to recover. Will this factor influence the preparation for the game and the game itself?
Siarhei Rutenka: Maybe not the preparation. But, as I said, we have had many difficult games recently. And now we feel tired, I certainly do. The fatigue accumulates, and it may influence the game. You will play against your ex-teammates Iker Romero and Konstantin Igropulo. What are your feelings about that? Do you keep in contact with Iker and Konstantin?
Siarhei Rutenka: Well, I am used to playing against my old friends and ex-teammates. It is just a normal working situation. Personally I will be happy to meet Romero and Igropulo. We still keep good contact. But I can hardly imagine that this factor may influence the game itself. Belarus played in the World Championship last month after an 18-year absence. Considering this, can the 15th place achieved by the national team be called a good result?
Siarhei Rutenka: I think so. We reached our goal which had been set before the tournament. I think it is a positive thing for the whole of Belarusian handball. Now people in my country talk more about handball, and watch it more too. I hope it will help to popularise our sport and to attract the younger generations. The re-built team of Barcelona has had a very good season. What are the main reasons for that?
Siarhei Rutenka: Our game is based on good defense. After the arrival of Arpad Sterbik, we have the best pair of goalkeepers in Europe. And it is a big plus for the whole team.

Sure, some veterans left Barcelona last summer, and there was some anxiety about it. Several very important players moved to other clubs. But still, we have been doing quite well. This is sport, you should be able to adapt to the new situations, to reconstruct the game. Dinamo Minsk, a club from your native Belarus, plays in the same group as Barcelona. How do you feel about competing with your fellow countrymen and with your brother Denis in particular?
Siarhei Rutenka: These matches are really unusual for me. In fact, Denis and I never competed against each other before. Quite soon, Barcelona will play in Belarus, and it will also be a special event. So far, I have never played against Belarusian teams in Minsk. Dinamo are third place in the group and are very close to the Last 16. Is it amazing for you?
Siarhei Rutenka: Not really. But I can imagine that it may come as a surprise for the people who do not know much about the team.

I am happy for Dinamo Minsk. They proved that they are able to demonstrate good handball, hopefully they will continue this way. It was very hard for us to beat them in Barcelona.

The club bosses in Minsk have been doing a great job, they know how to choose the right players. Maybe those players are not the most famous ones, but they definitely have quality. Have there been any surprises in Group D or in the competition in general for you so far?
Siarhei Rutenka: The main surprise in our group came when Dinamo beat Füchse in Minsk. Other than that, I do not see any big sensations in the whole tournament. The match in the O2 World will be sold out with 13,000 spectators. Do you like playing in Germany in an atmosphere like that?
Siarhei Rutenka: It is always nice to play in Germany. This country is famous for its full arenas. I always liked to play against any German clubs, Kiel, Lemgo, Hamburg. Matches like that are very interesting and competitive. The VELUX EHF FINAL4 is coming closer. Who are your favorites for the trip to Cologne?
Siarhei Rutenka: Well, I think the real competition is just beginning. As for the favorites, Kiel play very well, as usual and Vive Kielce have been very impressive during this season.

Veszprem got much stronger, the Hungarians seem to have a decent chance. Of course, our goal in Barcelona is also to reach the FINAL4. And we will try our best.

FC Barcelona Intersport travel to Füchse Berlin for the Match of the Week which can be seen live and free of charge on with English commentary from Tom Ó Brannagáin on Sunday, 10 February (throw-off: 17.15 hrs CET) 

TEXT: Sergey Nikolaev / cor