Great lefties come face to face in GermanyArticle
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FACE TO FACE: Patrick Groetzki and Gasper Marguc are both fast, technically impeccable and lethal on the counter. And they will take the same court this weekend.

Great lefties come face to face in Germany

Rhein-Neckar Löwen take on MKB-MVM Veszprém in one of the most interesting games of round eight of the VELUX EHF Champions League.

The visitors top the group of death and need just one point to seal their first place while Löwen still need to work hard for qualification posts. We picked two of the greatest right wings of the game, Patrick Groetzki and Gasper Marguc to set the mood for Saturday’s clash.

"We have a 50:50 chance to win this match and to be the first team in this season in all competition to take points from Veszprem,” says Patrick Groetzki, the right wing of the Lions and the German national team.

"Even though we are already qualified and have a good chance to finish on top of the group we are not taking the trip to Germany lightly. We expect a tough game but we are ready to fight against one of the top teams of the VELUX EHF Champions League – added Gasper Marguc, Veszprém’s right wing.

Groetzki respects Veszprém

The 25-year-old Groetzki, like Uwe Gensheimer is part of the Löwen team since he was a junior – and he expects a tough clash against the Hungarian team, who top the table with a clean run of seven wins by now.

“In the previous years, Veszprem were famous for their strength on home court, but this season they are also highly stable in away matches, what they have proved by winning in Skopje, though this was finally a lucky punch.”

“Veszprem have clearly improved their squad and are much more rehearsed, they have more alternatives now – and mainly former Löwen player Christian Zeitz is a clear improvement for the Veszprem side,” says Groetzki, but: “We need to take the points on home ground to remain in the race for the second positions in our group in the duel with Vardar.”

Marguc expects a tough game

Marguc is completing his first year in Veszprém and the Slovenian international is still getting used to living abroad. "Veszprém is very different from Celje but I have settled down quickly. It is a great place to play handball and we have a team that can win important trophies.”

"We have prepared well for this huge game and we go to Germany to win. I know a lot of people think we have already won our group but we cannot afford to think that. We are aware of the fact that we will be facing one of the strongest teams in Europe, who are joint leaders of the toughest league in the world," says the 24-year-old right wing.

Wings from the crowd

Like Veszprem in Hungary and in the multinational SEHA Liga, Löwen are on top of the Bundesliga table, equal in points with THW Kiel: “But both competitions are different, we have no advantage from our Bundesliga position in the Champions League. In contrast, on international turf we gave more points from our hands than on domestic ground.”

Groetzki hopes for a sold-out SAP Arena on Saturday, which would mean more than 13,000 fans: “In the previous season we had two Champions League highlighters there, the knock-out matches against Kielce and Barcelona, when the spectators were like an eighth player for us. In those matches the atmosphere granted us wings – and for the same we hope on Saturday.”

Wary of the threat

Marguc has full size respect for Löwen and despite the fact that Veszprém are six points ahead knows beating Löwen away requires a perfect performance. "Löwen are a fantastic team, their most important strength is their counter attacking potential. You need to be very precise when attacking because if you make a mistake the next thing you will see is one of their wings racing down the court to score an easy goal.”

"Our most important strength is our defence but on Saturday we will have to be very accurate in attack, too in order to avoid Löwen’s quick counters. This will be a battle of two different but equally efficient handball philosophies. We want to win and seal the top spot in the group,” added Marguc.

Best wingers congregate

"We faced each other already in the previous season, when he was playing for Celje. He is a high speed counter attack expert and it was a brilliant signing of Veszprem after they had lost Ivancsik. I am sure that he will improve even more and we will see much more of him in the future. We must be aware of him and stop Marguc's counter-attacks," Groetzki said about his counterpart.

"Groetzki is one of the best wings in the game. Our playing style is similar as far as our biggest strength is concerned: we are both fast and efficient on the counter. He is a kind of player who rarely misses his chances so it is best for us not to let Löwen play their game. I am excited to meet him on court again," said Marguc.

TEXT: Bence Martha, Björn Pazen / br