Aguinagalde: We will try to surprise themArticle
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Atlético line player keen to get off to a good start at home

Aguinagalde: We will try to surprise them

Things are heating up in the VELUX EHF Champions League and participating teams have just one last hurdle to clear on their way to Cologne.

Among them, Atlético Madrid and FC Barcelona will be deciding who the Spanish representative taking part will be. took the opportunity to speak with Madrid line player Julen Aguinagalde and gather his thoughts about this exciting quarter-final encounter. What is it like preparing a match against an opponent as strong as FC Barcelona?

Julen Aguinagalde: We play these matches repeatedly during a season. But they are the same only in name but not in the final outcome. Each game is a different tale and everything in it is new. You can never tell beforehand who is going to win. So far in this season 3 games played and 3 losses for Atlético. Does it affect the team mentally?

Julen Aguinagalde: It can affect you in a positive or in a negative way. On the one hand they may “relax” and think it will be easier, as they have beaten us before every time we have met, but we want to show that this team has been growing during the season and also we intend to take revenge from the previous defeats. We will try to surprise them with new things. What would you emphasize about Barcelona as a team?

Julen Aguinagalde: What wouldn’t you? Starting with the goalkeepers, their defence, the high speed displayed while on fast breaks and the richness and variety in attack, they have it all. Also at this stage of the season they are in this typical “euphoria” moment where they just want to win everything and that could also be one of our main enemies. Was there a collective change of mentality in the team after the last victory away in Berlin?

Julen Aguinagalde: Obviously, beating Füchse in Berlin when nobody expected it, recovering Jota (Hombrados) and qualifying in style as we did built a great element of self confidence for everyone inside the club. And we have to let that spirit show again in the quarter-final. In the coming weeks Atlético will be facing both this round in the VELUX EHF Champions League and the final stage of the Spanish Cup. Now that the league is virtually out of reach, will the team be measured only for what may happen in these matches?

Julen Aguinagalde: The team’s circumstances have been completely different from previous years: a great deal of changes in the backbone of the line-up, the budget is lower than in the past, we’ve had to change the style of the team and also had to put up with injuries in key positions.

We will only become aware of what has happened when the season is over. Until then we simply must continue working. The second leg will be played at Palau Blaugrana, how important does that make the home match?

Julen Aguinagalde: The first leg at home is very important, but at the stage we currently are, there is not much difference between playing home or away.

As I said earlier we should strive to do our best and make it different from previous games, generating surprise. What would you ask to your fans for next Saturday?  Is having a sold-out hall in Vistalegre like scoring first for you?

Julen Aguinagalde: It is clear to me that much is at stake and this is the last Champions League match this season at home. Nevertheless, it must be us who motivate and stimulate our fans so they react when we need them during the game. Getting a “full house” on Saturday is crucial for us. Finally, are you excited to be among the nominees at the VELUX EHF Champions League All-star team?

Julen Aguinagalde: It is always thrilling to see your name along with the best players in the continent, but everyone around me knows that I consider myself a team player and that will always come first.

TEXT: Francisco Miranda / cor