Sky expert Fritz: Cologne is simply sensationalArticle
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FEATURE: The 2007 world champion from the LANXESS arena Henning Fritz is just one of many trumps sky will use during their VELUX EHF FINAL4 coverage.

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Sky expert Fritz: Cologne is simply sensational

The LANXESS arena in Cologne is still a magic place for Henning Fritz, though the former goalkeeper never won the VELUX EHF Champions league there.

Back in 2011, he was part of the Rhein-Neckar Löwen squad at the VELUX EHF FINAL4 and one year later the Magdeburg-born Fritz (now 42) has ended his fabulous career.

But the 2007 World Champion, 2004 EHF EURO champion and silver medallist at the 2004 Olympic Games, the 2003 World Championship and the 2002 EHF EURO is heading back to Cologne this year, although in a slightly different role.

Stellar team of experts on sky

Fritz is part of the high-ranked expert team of sky, the official VELUX EHF Champions League broadcaster for Germany and Austria, such as his former coach Heiner Brand, his former national teammate and VELUX EHF Champions League winner Pascal Hens and his former coach Martin Schwalb (2003 VCL winner).

After travelling all Europe with the German teams throughout this season, arriving at Cologne is a sort of a homecoming for Henning Fritz.

"This is the biggest handball arena in Europe, with the best atmosphere, always sold-out. Everything around the VELUX EHF FINAL4 is simply sensational."

Fritz knows it best from 2007, when the LANXESS arena played the host to the German team from the quarter-final to the victorious final.

"Those are memories you never forget, so I really appreciate being back at the VELUX EHF FINAL4."

Before his start as TV expert for sky, Henning Fritz has another task to fulfil in Cologne: The 2004 World Handball Player of the Year is going to finish his European Handball Manager Studies with the written and the oral exam at the German Sports University right before the start of the FINAL4.

"A great studies at a great university with great lecturers, hopefully I have the certificate in my hand, when I start my TV duties in the LANXESS arena."

Three players under special focus

As a former Kiel player and 2007 EHF Champions League winner with THW, Fritz hopes that his former club will go all the way again.

"After already missing the titles in the German Bundesliga and the German Cup, THW will have the special motivation in Cologne, not to end their first season since 2003 without any trophy. This situation consists of a little pressure, but all those players get even better when the pressure increases. We will see the true THW face at Cologne, as they need to ‘save’ this season."

But among those three players Fritz is looking forward mostly in Cologne, is not a current, but two former THW players.

"Nikola Karabatic is the most complete handball player in the world. Though handball has become faster and tougher in the previous years, he kept his impressive level for more than a decade now.

"Aron Palmarsson is the mastermind, the hub and the brain of the Veszprem attack - I really like to see him play. And as we shared the goalkeeper job at Rhein-Neckar Löwen for several years, I am looking forward to seeing Slawomir Szmal on court, an extra-ordinary sportsman, with whom I have a great personal relationship."

Over 12 hours live coverage

Sky will start with the set-up at the LANXESS arena already two days before the start of the event. Not less than 60 people will be involved on site in broadcasting more than 12 hours live from the VELUX EHF FINAL4.

They will offer the viewers not only their own referee expert (former German international referee Frank Wenz), but also a lot of (virtual) analyses from one of the biggest OB vans in Europe.

There will be a live-studio in the arena and an experienced team of commentators will guide the viewers through the whole coverage - Jens Westen (anchor), Karsten Petrzika (semi-finals and final) and Heiko Mallwitz (3rd place match) Christina Rann (fieldinterviewer)

The handball fans will also have an opportunity to watch numerous interesting documents not only on the only German club at the tournament THW Kiel, but also on Veszprém and their former THW-stalwarts Momir Ilic, Christian Zeitz or Aron Palmarsson.

TEXT: Björn Pazen / br