Clash of names, traditions and starsArticle
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BLOG: ehfTV commentator Tom O Brannagain not only analyses strenghts and weaknesses of Veszprem and Rhein Neckar Löwen before their Match of the Week in Round 2, but also discovers the beauty of google translations

Clash of names, traditions and stars

There is an old urban myth that way back in the late 1700s there was a vote to see which language, German or English, would become the official language of the USA. The story goes that the vote failed by one vote and thus English is now the spoken language of that nation.

It's not a true story of course, but it reminded me of my earliest memories of handball in Europe. Back then, German was the “de facto” language in terms of handball. Somewhere over time English was accepted as the official language, thankfully, as I can speak no German whatsoever.

Almost six years ago when my odyssey began on the European stage, it was not so easy for me to even get an interview with a player in English. The Scandinavians were always a safe bet, but, with the exception of some few other players scattered among the other nations, there was a dearth of English speaking talent.

I cannot believe how much has changed in the intervening years. Not only can I converse with most players, but also my research has been made much easier on the internet.

So many clubs have an English version of their website; Barcelona, PSG, Kielce, Metalurg and Vardar, for instance, that my job has been made much easier. Most other clubs have remained in the own native tongue.

So I google it.

Translation is a wonderful tool. It gives you the meaning and spirit of the content, not neccessarily in the greatest grammar ever. But it helps.

But at times you have to hold your laughter inside. Flensburg is one of my favourites. Hampus Wanne, the boy who scored the winning penalty in that semi-final against Barca becomes Hampus “Bin” or “Tub” depending what you read. That's rubbish, right? Kasper Kisum is “Punch” Kisum (red card offense by the way).

Lars Kaufmann is Lars “Merchant” and my all-time favourite is Anders Eggert who is known as “Different” Eggert. Classic!

But nothing prepared me for the Veszprem site. Great news, well updated, but in Hungarian. So out comes google as I peruse their news. When I came to the team section, the translation was superb.

A centre player is called “management”, which might slightly irritate the coaching staff, but in itself is a good term for the man who is supposed to control the flow of the attack.

The Line player is called “Parking”. Some of them are as big as cars, but an old coach came to my mind, who used to yell at the line player; “Go and park your ass in there on the line”. Classic!

The cherry on the translation has to be the back court players. In the left back they are called “Left Shooter” which is self explanatory, but in the right back position they translate as “Better Shooter”. Now I don't know what Ilic the top scorer of the VELUX EHF CL last season would make of that.

Maybe Veszprem knows something about Nagy and Zeitz that the rest of us don't.

Enough of that. How do I translate all the information I get on these websites into something that can set us up for the big game. Veszprem welcome RNL to town. It's “Groundhog Day”. No we are not off to “Gobblers Knob”, but to one of the greatest arenas for handball in Europe. We were here last year, remember. It was a monumental game.

Fresh from the euphoria and despair of a tremendous season last year, Hungarian handball is enjoying a real purple patch. Women's winners in Györ and EHF Cup holders in Szeged, the Magyars are rightfully optimisitic about this season.

Veszprem's management (not the centre players) and coaches have been busy over the close season. Mikler, Zeitz, Nilsson and Marguc have been brought in to supplement a team that was so close to glory. When reinforcements of this calibre have been bought, you have to say that Vesprem has to considered a top top team.

A team and a fan base that has every right to be considered one of the best in Europe; I have often been critical of the expectations heaped upon this club, with teams from the past, but even I must hold my hands up this year and say that this collection, no, selection, is up there with the best in Europe.

The Lions are coming and they have had a summer of gentle upheaval. Manojlovic is gone. The heart and soul of the defensive unit is a big loss and it will be interesting to see how they cope. Gone also is Gorbok, a player who perhaps had his high scoring years behind him, but he has been replaced by the powerful Mads Mensah.

The coaching team is also completely new and it will be interesting to see how Jacobsen copes with his new charges and how they cope with his new ideas. Still, they have kept the core of the team, that was agonisingly close to going out and staying in twice last season and the German spine of the team has been added to on the court.

It's difficult to judge both teams based on last week's matches. Montpellier was surprisingly poor against RNL, but whether that is because of the inspired Landin or just because they didn't play to their potential is difficult to figure out.

The central defence pairing of Kneer and Guardiola is not at it's peak, but looks ok. In the end Jacobsen kept faith with the team that knows the CL and each other so well.

Veszprem by contrast faced a tricky away leg in Russia. Combined with travel and a lack of information about the Medvedi team, Veszprem coped extremely well and an early second half blitz put the game to bed.

Ortega's transfer activity looks promising with Mikler sensational in goal and Marguc looking very dangerous in a right wing area that was a minor issue for them in recent years. Keeping Ilic fit will be vital as they have a lack of depth in that area.

They know each other inside and out. It's their third time to meet in the group phase in the last six seasons. The trip will be second nature although the personel has changed. The matches are always close run things.

Both teams sit atop their respective leagues. Both have made great starts to the season. Veszprem is already in international mode due to their SEHA committments. It promises to be interesting, intriguing and physical. It is what the CL is meant to be. A clash of names, traditions and stars.

Hogy egy összecsapás a titánok

or in German if you prefer

Es ist ein Kampf der Titanen

Google it! I did.

TEXT: Tom O Brannagain, ehfTV commentator