Tkaczyk: "We must pay special attention to Dolenec"Article
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INTERVIEW: Grzegorz Tkaczyk speaks to ahead of Kielce's VELUX EHF Champions League Last 16 return against Montpellier.

Tkaczyk: "We must pay special attention to Dolenec"

The first match of KS Vive Tauron Kielce and Montpellier Agglomeration's VELUX EHF Champions League Last 16 tie was the closest of any meeting between a group winner and a team that advanced after finishing fourth.

The Polish champions emerged 29:25 victors, the same advantage they held at this stage last year before falling to Rhein-Neckar Löwen, something Kielce are aiming to avoid this time around.

Grzegorz Tkaczyk spoke to about his predictions for the rematch, his team’s plan for Dragan Gajic and what he expects from Jure Dolenec. Last season a four-goal advantage after first match of the Last 16 was not enough. What is different this time?

Grzegorz Tkaczyk: "Maybe the advantage is exactly the same as previously, but the situation is totally different. Now we are playing the rematch at home. For sure we fulfilled our plan as we won in Montpellier – this is a big step on our way to the quarter-final. We have our fate in our own hands. We are the favourites, but of course, we remain focused on the goal because we want to be the winners again." You managed to score 29 goals away from home. You must feel it will be difficult for Montpellier, even if they level, to break the 30-goal barrier?

Grzegorz Tkaczyk: "That’s right. Twenty-nine goals is a pretty impressive amount. But, to be honest, for us only the victory is important. We expect an even game, but we are definitely not thinking about the situation with the four goals on the edge. We would like to win calmly and save our fans from any unnecessarry jump in the blood pressure." How did you feel about the fact the match was so close, when it was a meeting between first and fourth-place teams from the group stage?

Grzegorz Tkaczyk: "I think it’s not important which places meet each other. Montpellier are a class opponent who currently remain in the lead of the French league, which I consider to be very strong one. They are even ahead of the PSG, who are full of stars. Thus the importance placed on the group positions is not fully fair. What is important, is that the team that are going to visit us have nothing to lose now and they would like to cause a surprise in Kielce." The Slovenian stars play a huge role for Montpellier. They always score a lot of goals, would you also say that they are the creative talents and add the special flavour to the team? 

Grzegorz Tkaczyk: "Yes, there is a huge Slovenian core in the team and they are definitely the power of Montpellier in attack and defence as well. The game was based around them in France. In addition, they have Michael Guigou, the French national player with a rich CV, who seems to have won everything that he could." On the opposite wing there is another Slovenian, Dragan Gajic. You are one of the few teams that didn’t let him score eight or nine goals, as he does usually. How did you stop him?

Grzegorz Tkaczyk: "The key to holding him off was our effective attack. When we succeeded in this element we prevented our rivals from creating fast breaks, the way Gajić usually scores the majority of his goals. Besides, he was not receiving many balls in attacking positions, and if he was, Marin Sego was in his way. Now we need to repeat that in Kielce." With a week's gap between games, is it possible to surprise each other? Do you expect Montpellier to change something in their play?

Grzegorz Tkaczyk: "No, I don’t think so. In this case I would only pay an additional attention to Jure Dolenec. In my opinion he played quite poorly against us, and didn't score a single goal. Normally he scores around five or six. I expect that he will draw a conclusion from that first game. Then he will be a very uncomfortable player for our defenders."

Follow the second leg of the Last 16 match Vive Tauron Kielce vs Montpellier Agglomeration HB live on Saturday 21 March at 15:30 hrs local time live on ehfTV

TEXT: Magda Pluszewska / jh