Svan: Enjoying every momentArticle
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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Flensburg wing player has beaten Barcelona already and hopes the successful semi-final streak of his team will go on in Cologne.

Svan: Enjoying every moment

Six years ago Lasse Svan (30) extended the long list of famous Danish wing players at SG Flensburg-Handewitt. The 2012 EHF EURO champion and 2012 Cup Winners’ Cup winner went “just over the border” in 2008, after he had his first EHF Champions League experiences at GOG Gudme.

In this exclusive interview with Svan hopes that the series of victorious Flensburg semi-finals might even continue at his maiden voyage to Cologne, where SG face Barcelona in their first match. Only a few days to go to the VELUX EHF FINAL4 – is the tension already rising?

Lasse Svan: The anticipation is huger than for all matches before. It is my first ever Champions League semi-final in my career, it is my first time to be at the VELUX EHF FINAL4. We are all totally looking forward to arriving in Cologne. Your first EHF Champions League semi-final will be against FC Barcelona. Is there any higher hurdle to cross?

Lasse Svan: No, definitely not. Barcelona are -  in terms of trophies and titles – the best ever handball team in the world. When you look at their squad, those players are enough to form two world class selections, which both could fight even for the title in the Bundesliga.

But in contrast to most of my team mates I already played some times against Barcelona, including the absolute highlighter, when we beat them with GOG Gudme in Champions League some years ago. This is a perfect memory, but in Cologne two different teams will face. Flensburg are known for their speciality scoring from counter-attacks, counting on their Danish “experts” Anders Eggert and Lasse Svan. Is this the way you can beat Barcelona?

Lasse Svan: We have to score as many counter attack goals as possible. Barcelona have an extraordinary defence, which for our shooters will be like a wall. The more fast and easy goals we can score, the longer we can be on one level. If we have to try to score from position attack, it will be really tough for us. Rhein Neckar Löwen scored 18 counter-attack goals in their victorious quarter-final (38:31) against Barcelona. Is this something to copy?

Lasse Svan: It sounds good, we have to try. But in contrast to Löwen, who flew on the wings of their fans in Mannheim, we have no home match against Barcelona in Cologne. So I hope for the loud support of all neutral spectators in the LANXESS arena. This could be an advantage for us. Will the preparation of the team be something special?

Lasse Svan: I don’t think so. The most important thing is to keep our heads clean, not to think too much. Is there one single player on Barca side you have to focus on most?

Lasse Svan: No, if you stop one, they still have 15. If I must choose a single player then it is Nikola Karabatic, who is brilliant both in defence and attack. Will the duel of goalkeepers – Andersson vs Sterbik and Saric – will be another decisive factor?

Lasse Svan: Definitely! Team sport matches are very often decided by goalkeepers, and in handball this position can guarantee up to 50 percent of your success. If we win this duel, we can win the match – as our tactics rely on strong goalkeeping. If Mattias saves, we can start counter-attacks much more often and easier. So can you dream at least a little bit of reaching the final?

Lasse Svan: We have one omen, which is good and bad at a time: We are experts on winning semi-finals. In the last four editions of the German cup final tournament we won our semi-finals – but then unfortunately lost all four finals. So if the semi-final series continues, we are absolutely happy. And maybe we can even break the final curse. It is also an advantage to have only 60 minutes against Barcelona and no re-match in Palau Blaugrana?

Lasse Svan: As I said, we have our experience from those cup tournaments. We start strong on Saturday but then do not have enough power on Sundays. So it is definitely no advantage for us to have two matches in 24 hours. Barcelona have a much wider squad then we have, so it might even be an advantage for them. Will the audience of 20.000 fans in Cologne be an additional motivation?

Lasse Svan: To be in Cologne is already the best motivation. But we know what audience can be about, latest since our quarter-final in Skopje, when 7,000 fans rocked the arena. Those matches are the ones you train for all the season. And the most important things is: You must enjoy every of those moments.

TEXT: Björn Pazen / br