Laen: We “only” need to winArticle
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Füchse’s Danish line player looks ahead to the re-match against his former Madrid teammates

Laen: We “only” need to win

Four years ago he was the major newcomer at the aspiring Füchse Berlin and for the last two years Torsten Laen has been the team captain.

In the Match of the Week, Laen will face some of his former team mates in the return leg of the Last 16 of the VELUX EHF Champions League against Atlético Madrid.

After the 29:29 draw in the first leg, the advantage is with the Germans as they strive to reach the quarter-finals for the second straight time in their second ever participation in the VELUX EHF Champions League.

Before playing the Match of the Week, Laen speaks to and says he is aware of Atlético’s strength, but knows that Füchse have gained plenty of experience in the previous 12 months. 58 goals, a draw and a fantastic atmosphere, what were your impressions of the first leg of the Last 16 in Madrid?

Torsten Laen: It was a great game, a brilliant intense fight from both sides and we really improved after the break to a fantastic level. The result was also Füchse’s first positive result on a Spanish court.

Torsten Laen: That was because for the first time in our four attempts, we played a really good match.

Last season we clearly lost at Madrid and by 12 goals at Leon, this season we were beaten by ten goals at Barcelona. So we never had any good experiences with Spanish teams in Spain. Your coach Dagur Sigurdsson said that a draw is a dangerous result for the second leg – do you agree?

Torsten Laen: Yes and no.  No, because it is a much better base than we had in the previous season, when we had lost by 12 goals at Leon.

So in case of Sunday’s match we “only” need to win, which is anything but easy against a team like Atlético Madrid. But it is much easier than having in mind that we need to win by five or six goals against a team of Madrid having a squad of 17 top level players.

I remember when I was a player at Ciudad Real and we had lost the first leg of the Champions League final at home against THW Kiel. Nobody expected us to raise the trophy, but finally we did it by a clear away victory at Kiel.

What I want to say is that anything can happen in a knock-out stage and it is really a pity that one of two top teams will be eliminated on Sunday. How do you rate the situation of Atlético Madrid, your former club?

Torsten Laen: I have played for Berlin for four years, so the number of Atlético players I played with is getting lower and lower due to their permanent transition.

My personal impression about the club situation wasn’t that shiny. I think nobody knows how it will go on at Madrid, the club urgently needs success.

Since they already gave the Spanish championship to Barcelona, they have to hope for success in the VELUX EHF Champions League, which does not make things easier for us in the second leg against them. Berlin are playing their second season in the VELUX EHF Champions League. Do you think the team got more and more experienced by these international encounters?

Torsten Laen: Exactly! We gained really useful experience. In the current season we played 11 Champions League matches so far and we only lost twice, after weak performances at Barcelona and at Minsk.

I think now we have arrived in this competition, we increased our performing level, gained a huge number of points. But still there are a lot of things missing before we call ourselves a “top team”. You have just arrived in the first knock-out stage, but do you already dream of playing the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in Cologne like last season?

Torsten Laen: No, Cologne is currently so far away. At first we got Atlético as opponent in the Last 16, but now we have a quite good base.

If we reach the quarter-finals, the situation is completely different compared to last season. In 2012 we beat former group winner Hamburg in the Last 16 and so we were in the ideal pot 1 for the quarter-final draw. Now we would be in pot 2 with even stronger opponents than Atlético potentially ahead, so it is much too early to have any though about Cologne. Would Cologne be a perfect international ending for your career in Berlin?

Torsten Laen: It is important for me to leave Berlin with my head held high. But this season again is difficult and different to the one before.

Three seasons ago we were the surprise team in German Bundesliga, sensationally ranking second in the end. '

Everybody said: Everything will be much harder and change when you play in the Champions League. Then again we ranked third in the league and even more sensationally were part of the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in our first appearance in the competition.

Now we are again successful in Champions League and again we are on a position in Bundesliga which would clinch a berth for the upcoming Champions League season.

You cannot top your success every season, but for me it would be a brilliant ending at Berlin, if we would again qualify for the Champions League and then wait and see what we are able to in this season’s competition.

TEXT: Björn Pazen / cor