Schubert returns with Dragons to play against his dream teamArticle
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FEATURE: Danish winger will help FC Porto in their premiere steps in the VELUX EHF Champions League on Sunday as Portuguese champions will play against his hometown club

Schubert returns with Dragons to play against his dream team

It will be a dream come true for Mick Schubert on Sunday when he steps out onto the TRE-FOR Arena. Admittedly, in his vision he was wearing the kit of KIF Kolding København rather than the blue and white stripes of FC Porto, but having made the leap from second-division handball to the VELUX EHF Champions League he cannot have it all his own way.

When the 25-year-old Danish international arrived in Portugal he could not have imagined returning to his home city so soon. The group phase draw saw to that, though.

“Well, I always dreamt about playing in the Champions League for them, certainly not against them,” stifling a laugh he said for ahead of the first Porto's match in the European top flight.

“I know them very well and I have played with some of their players before. In Denmark handball is a big sport but it’s a small world and everybody knows one another, we know all the teams very well. It gives me the opportunity to help my team with that knowledge.”

Speaking about his former dream team, Schubert easily described their strong points, as for the weak… not so easily. "Defence is definitely their best quality. They have very good players with a lot of experience that have played these kind of games for years. Their fragilities, that’s a hard one. Maybe the fact that Kim Andersson is not playing, it can be an advantage for us,” he hinted.

Luck is a factor which cannot fail FC Porto to go through to the last 16 in a very difficult group, says the Danish. “We have to be lucky. We need to get all the points we can in Dragão Caixa and then make some bonus points away.”

Another important factor for the blues may be their home. “We have so many fans watching our matches, and this might take some of our opponents by surprise when they go out to play.”

One-on-one with Rocas

Kim Andersson may be out but KIF still have enough aces in their pack. For example in the shape of Albert Rocas, whom Schubert will face during the match.

Two-time world champion with Spain and the holder of more than ten club titles and winner of countless individual awards including a “best right winger” of the 2008 Olympics – even this enviable list of achievements does not sufficiently describe one of the best in the game, who arrived from FC Barcelona Intersport this summer.

“It is going to be a great experience because he is one of the best players in the world,” admitted Schubert.

“It’s what you dream of when you are a kid, to play matches like these, to play against the best players in the world. This is what you prepare for!”

Schubert, a member of the Denmark team that won the U20 European Championship six years ago, has been preparing for a long time, his enduring passion for the game transferring to the sand – his team were third at the 2013 European Beach Handball Championship.

His passion has now taken him south to join five-time Portuguese champions Porto this season, and he could not be happier.

It is not an obvious move. When you think of Denmark, you think of handball, of great national teams and successful domestic clubs; not so Portugal. Still, this is changing and having played second division handball in his homeland Schubert is now preparing for the Champions League with a club that could be placed in the top five spots of the first division in Denmark, he assumes.

Predict the unpredictable

The lifestyle in southern Europe is almost unrecognisable to someone from the northern expanses of the continent, but the left winger is content for now to focus on the change of culture on the court.

“Here (in Portugal) you play much faster than in Denmark, plus there the game is much more organised. That’s what I’m trying to get into my system at the moment.”

Being a winger, it is obviously an advantage for Mick to counter-attack, however, that brings another quality into equation.

“The game is more schematic in Denmark, so you know what you have to do when a certain action happens.

Here you just have to run and get your chance when you are open on the counter; you have to be prepared for everything, to predict the unpredictable.”

Truth be told, understanding team-mates is almost as important as getting to grips with the competitive culture of the game. Portugal is a long way from Denmark: in kilometres, in playing style and certainly linguistically. Mick is the only player that does not understand the language in the squad yet (he is learning), but he is finding his voice.

“Of course it isn’t easy for me to understand Portuguese, but some of my colleagues are very good at English and they translate everything for me,” he said, adding as he struggled to supress a smile: “Plus, I also understand professor Obradovic’s expressive language because of all his gestures.”

Further information

Follow the match of KIF Kolding København vs FC Porto Vitalis live on ehfTV on Sunday at 17:00 hrs local time

TEXT: Carlos J Santos / br