From hell to heaven – and then?Article
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BLOG: Rhein Neckar Löwen team captain Uwe Gensheimer tells about a great night against Kiel and his high hopes in the next handball fiesta against FC Barcelona on Sunday.

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From hell to heaven – and then?

Hi, handball fans all over Europe!

What should I say about the last days, it was the biggest mixture of emotions you can have. Last Saturday I felt like hell, when we played terrible in the German Cup semi-final against Flensburg and missed the next chance to win our first domestic title – and only four days later me and my teammates from Rhein Neckar Löwen are in heaven, flying on a cloud of success. And on Sunday we will face the currently greatest team on earth for another handball fiesta in our arena.

I am full of confidence for the VELUX EHF Champions League Quarter-final against FC Barcelona – because we managed to beat THW Kiel on Wednesday night to top the German Bundesliga for the first time this season. We are level with THW but have the better goal difference. It feels extraordinary, though we all know that there are still five matches are ahead and we haven’t achieved anything yet.

But it was a sensational match, and we were boosted by 13,200 fans, and I don’t think that anybody who was there on Wednesday wants to miss our next clash on Sunday, so we expect a sold-out arena again. What more can handball fans expect than seeing matches with Kiel and Barcelona within one week? There’s not much to top it, is there?

It was not easy for me to flip the switch after our disappointing German Cup weekend – but we managed it as a team! Niklas Landin was in brilliant form on Wednesday and if he and we can do it again against Barcelona like we did against Kiel it will not be easy for the big favourites to beat us.

One could think that I have strange emotions, as I had offers from both Kiel and Barcelona, but for me this matter has absolutely no relevance anaymore. The future has been set since the Autumn – and at least until 2016 I will wear the Löwen jersey – so I can keep my head only focused on those two games, the final two steps on the way to Cologne.

After beating Kiel we did not have a big party in Mannheim, as we all know what is ahead for us. I dream of making it to Cologne again, but I believe that all Barcelona players have the same dream. I hope they all watched our match against Kiel – and enjoyed it!

Barcelona have the best squad of all at club level – just take a look at three of their back court players: Rutenka, Karabatic and Lazarov, simply a brilliant trio! And on their bench there’s only world class too. They have the big advantage that they can go through their domestic competitions like a hot knife through butter, while we have to struggle for every point in Germany.

I think that Barcelona have respect for us, as we have for them. A victory on Sunday would mean a brilliant foundation to work from, but the final decision will be taken in Barcelona one week later.

So I hope that all handball fans all over Europe will enjoy those clashes – just switch on your computer on Sunday evening and have fun with the Match of the Week, you will not regret it!

Have a nice Easter weekend – with best regards from Mannheim

Uwe Gensheimer

TEXT: Uwe Gensheimer, team captain Rhein Neckar Löwen