Leslie promises new Rostov after ChristmasArticle
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FEATURE: Danish coach of Rostov returns home for the Round 4 match, while Danish international Louise Burgaard from FC Midtjylland firmly believes in a home win

Leslie promises new Rostov after Christmas

FC Midtjylland and Rostov-Don have at least one thing in common before they meet again in Group C Sunday afternoon.

Both teams have two points after their first three matches, but while defeating CSM Bucuresti 24:21 in their second match was a positive surprise to FC Midtjylland, many people would probably have expected Rostov-Don to have done better.

Their only win so far was the 26:20 victory at home against exactly Midtjylland last Saturday.

“In general, I think we have done well in our Champions League campaign this far,” finds right back Louise Burgaard from FC Midtjylland.

“We did not stand a chance in our first match against Györ (31:19) who came again with an enormous pressure, which we were not able to withstand.

“However, we did very well in our second match against Bucharest, where our defence and Sabine (Englert) in goal were really good, which also gave us those counter attacks which are so crucial to us.

“In Rostov-Don, we did very well in the first half, where we were even leading several times, and I was actually a bit annoyed that we did not manage to hold on in the second half, where we did not come forward and tackle their attacking players the way we did in the first half.

“This also meant that we did not get the necessary counter goals in the second half, and when you only score 20 goals, you do not win any matches in the Champions League,” says the 24-year-old Danish national team player.

Patience is needed

Midtjylland's opponents in the IBF Arena in Ikast on Sunday started by losing 24:21 away to ruling Champions League winners CSM Bucuresti, followed by a 28:27 defeat at home against Györ Audi ETO KC before the win against Midtjylland last Saturday.

Rostov-Don coach Jan Leslie takes his team's rather slow start quite easy, though.

“Almost all my players were at the Olympics, and they were really tired when they came back from Rio.

“Instead of making them even more tired physically and mentally, I chose to give them some time off.

“This obviously reduced the time we had to prepare for the season, and furthermore, it also takes time to integrate so many new players as we have this season,” explains Leslie.

“In that perspective, I actually think we have done rather well until now.

“I think we played well against CSM as well as against Györ. We were just not able to finish the job in those two matches.

“Of course, it was a relief to win against Midtjylland, and I think we made another good performance in that match.

“Many people have claimed that Midtjylland played a poor second half, but I disagree.

“The difference in the second half was created by the fact that we could make more changes than they could, and that they neglected to make the substitutions that might have kept them in the game,” finds Leslie.

We can beat them this time, says Burgaard

Louise Burgaard firmly believes that her team can revenge the defeat in Russia, when she and her teammates have the home advantage this Sunday.

“Yes, I do. Our win against Bucharest and our first half in Rostov showed us, that we can compete at this level and that we can play with the best.

“If we can make our defence work and make our counter phase roll, I think there is basis for optimism.

“We probably missed seven or eight goals in the first match due to our lack of counter attacks, but we have the necessary confidence in ourselves now,” she says, and Rostov-Don's Danish coach thinks she has a point.

“In case of a win, Midtjylland can almost qualify for the main round already, and I am sure they will go for that.

“To us, it was very important that we won as clearly as by six goals at home.

“This means that we can afford a defeat of up to five goals in Ikast and still be better in the internal balance.

“A win at home against CSM will probably be enough for us to proceed to the main round, then,” says Jan Leslie who does not speculate much about how many points his team can take with them to the next stage.

“Right now, reaching the main round is our main objective.

“After Christmas, when we have got our team played together, you will see a completely different Rostov team, and then we will have time to catch up with what may have lost along the way,” says Jan Leslie.

TEXT: Peter Bruun / br