This is not Mission Impossible, Blanco saysArticle
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Larvik line player Isabel Blanco still finds it realistic that she and her teammates can win by at least four in Veszprém and take the Women's EHF Champions League trophy.

This is not Mission Impossible, Blanco says

Having lost 21:24 at home in the first leg of the Women´s EHF Champions League Final against Győri Audi ETO KC, the chances may seem small for Larvik HK to lift the trophy for the second time within the last three years.

When you take into consideration that the home defeat to the Hungarian champions on Saturday was the Norwegian top team´s third defeat to Győr in three encounters this season, the Norwegian chances in the Veszprém Aréna on Sunday may seem even harder to spot.

Nevertheless, a firm belief is to be traced among the Larvik players that the project of taking the title is far from impossible yet. This belief is clearly expressed by their line player Isabel Blanco.

The 34-year-old Norwegian international has a lot of experience with deciding EHF Champions league matches from her time in the Danish top clubs Aalborg DH and FC Midtjylland, where she played before returning home to Norway and Larvik in the summer of 2011.

In the first final against Győr Blanco was her team´s most scoring player with 5 goals in the Arena Larvik. She is ready to copy that effort and to make use of all her international experience Sunday, she reassures in this interview. What do you see as the reason(s) why your team suffered yet another defeat to Győr in the first leg of the final tie?

Isabel Blanco: We became too defensive, particularly in our attacking play for a long period of the match, and that way we invited Győr back into the game. We have to avoid making that mistake in the second match. If we can do that, I think we still have a good chance to win on aggregate. You had a certain personal success in the first match, being your team´s most scoring player with five goals. Was there any particular reason for that?

Isabel Blanco: My teammates were good as sending me the passes at the right times, and maybe I was also fairly good at positioning myself right on the line, where the working conditions were rather good in general, and when I got the ball it was simply a question of getting it into the goal. I will have to try and get the same success in the second match. You are one of the internationally most experienced players in the current Larvik team, not least with your EHF Champions League experience from your time in Denmark. Can you and the team benefit from that experience in the return match, do you think?

Isabel Blanco: Yes, I am really going to try and make as much use of that experience, as it is in a match like that, that all the international experience, I and the other players possess, should be expressed and come in useful. But honestly, after three successive defeats to Györ, what speaks for Larvik turning it all around and catching up with this three goal deficit in the away game?

Isabel Blanco: I feel that we can improve in several areas of the game, not least in the attack. Of course, it will be difficult in front of 5000 spectators who will undoubtedly put an enormous pressure on us, but I really still believe we can do it. Do you also feel that belief among your teammates?

Isabel Blanco: Yes, absolutely. We all realise that it will be difficult, and obviously each and every one of us will have to be at her peak during the entire 60 minutes, if we are going to succeed, but we firmly believe we can do it. It will be tough, but it is definitely not Mission Impossible. In your semi-final against Krim you also lost at home – back then by two goals – but qualified for the final through a large win away. Does the memory of that triumph also add to your confidence before going to Hungary?

Isabel Blanco: It sure does. Those matches prove to us that nothing is impossible. For the second match in Ljubliana we really stood together as a team and believed in the chance, and we were rewarded for that attitude. Even though Győr is a better team than Krim was, we can still copy the effort from the semis, if we stand together like that again, and we all reach our best.

Further information:

Follow the second leg of the Women's EHF Champions League Final on Saturday, 11 May at 15:15 hrs local time live and free of charge on

TEXT: Peter Bruun / br