Karabatic: “Everybody will have a role to play”Article
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INTERVIEW: Nikola Karabatic is hoping to learn from past years as he makes a second VELUX EHF FINAL4 appearance for PSG.

»EHF CL Channel »2016-17 Men's News

Karabatic: “Everybody will have a role to play”

When it comes to winning a VELUX EHF FINAL4 match, Nikola Karabatic is, surprisingly, not among the record-holders. In fact, for a player who's won the Olympics twice and the IHF player of the year award three times, realising that he's only made one successful trip to Cologne would raise a few eyebrows.

Some would attribute these results to 'career choices', and they wouldn't be wrong. In fact, the PSG centre back has only played in the Lanxess Arena three times. But for his second trip in a row with Paris Saint-Germain, he hopes to repeat the journey he took with FC Barcelona two seasons ago.

After finishing third in his first outing in the Barcelona jersey, he lifted the trophy the following year, snatching the Most Valued Player award of the Final Four in the meantime.

“Winning the Champions League is down to a mix of a lot of things, including luck. All stars must be aligned so you can win. And, for sure, a season more building experience at this level can help,” Karabatic said.

Of his current team, he added: “We were second in the toughest group in Champions League history, of which three teams will be at the Final Four. That proves how high the level was. We've won games we'd lost in the past, in Flensburg, in Veszprem. It shows we've made progress.”

No favourites

In the past the media and fans questioned the centre back's playing time. Yes, he plays sixty minutes a game. Yes, you might think he'd deserve a little bit of rest sometimes.

Whether you agree with this or not, it is certain that Paris have just played their best Champions League season ever, so the system seems to be working. Only FC Barcelona have a better record since last September.

“But that's not a reason why we'll meet each other in the final. Maybe, who knows, that'd be fun again, but I don't want to think about that right now,” Karabatic said after the draw.

“Like every year, you can't really give a favourite. Everybody has a chance to win in Cologne. Vardar are a team that has been building over the years and we've seen in the past that newcomers can win the Champions League. Veszprem have been chasing it for so long they'll be very motivated again, Barcelona will be too,” Karabatic said.

Aiming for European success

So what could make the wheel spin in Paris' favour this time?

“As a team we are stronger. If you look at the numbers, I think that we've had like six or seven best scorers in the season. I don't think any other team can say that,” Karabatic judged. “Every player's been an asset for the team and that's what we'll need again on the final weekend. Everybody will a have a role to play.

“Nedim Remii scored the winning goal in Flensburg, Uwe Gensheimer in Veszprem, Gorazd Skof made great performances against Szeged. Every player can help the team, it's not only down to one or two,” he added.

After winning three trophies in French national competitions, Paris would definitely want to to snatch the most prestigious European one. This is what they've been aiming for the last 24 months and anything else than success would be, even if they don't say it out loud, a disappointment.

And nobody knows better than Nikola Karabatic that there are more chances to win, when you reach the FINAL4 for the second time.

TEXT: Kevin Domas / jh