Palmarsson shines againArticle
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FEATURE: The Icelandic playmaker is showing his best version on court for Barça this season, but hopes that his best is yet to come – and that handball fans will get to enjoy that form on a certain court in Cologne
»2018-19 Men's News
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Palmarsson shines again

One year ago, Aron Palmarsson could finally don the Barça jersey for first time. He had a smiling face as he lived up to one of his dreams and could breathe a sigh of relief after difficult months that made him fear for the future of his handball career. However, Palmarsson’s debut season was not easy: he had some injures that did not allow him to play regularly and Barça did not achieve all their goals.

One year later, the general image is totally different. Palmarsson is the main director in a team that is impressing all Europe. The Icelandic playmaker is getting better and better every match. His quality, determination and perfectionism brought him back among the best in the world and fans in Palau Blaugrana are falling in love with him.

In Barcelona, Palmarsson found more than he expected. “After the first season, it’s easy now. I’m feeling great physically and have not been struggling with injuries. I’m fit, playing well and the team is playing good. To play here and to train here every day is the highest that you can get in handball,” says the 28-year-old.
New season, new life

Xavi Pascual made some changes to the team philosophy this year and Barça have a completely different face. Looking at the team during matches is like watching the happiest children playing at school. “For a player, it is really fun being part of a team like this,” says Palmarsson.

“The staff made some small changes and the team adapted really well. We’re showing that with the results in the EHF Champions League and in ASOBAL. We’re playing really good handball; it’s fun to watch. It’s been really good – small changes, nothing dramatic. We’re running a lot, playing fun and good handball.”

Palmarsson feels he is 100 per cent into coach Xavi Pascual’s system. “He is giving confidence to the players. I like the relationship we have and I’m grateful for that.”
Spectators in Palau Blaugrana are amazed with Palmarsson’s accurate direction and how he is growing in defence, but most impressive of the changes this season is the connection with French line player Ludovic Fabregas. “He seems like he has been playing 10 years in Champions League, but he is just 21. It’s funny the connection – we have a good connection but still want to do better. We want perfection,” says Palmarsson.

Step-by-step with goals in mind

Palmarsson has the main objective firmly in mind. “We come to training, to watch videos…everything we do is to go to the FINAL4 and then, when we are there, win the Champions League. Every match, we’re showing what our goal is, and fans can dream with us.”

Compared to last season, the feelings are different. “We were struggling and now we’re much more confident. We have more rhythm and a good connection.”

However, Palmarsson is also prudent: “It’s good to have this flow now but it’s November. We look good, we are playing good, we are doing really good at the moment, but it can go down with just one or two matches. We must stay focused and still working continuously to be ready in April and May.”

Vital match in Kielce

It is not going to be definitive, but a big step forward if Barça can win two points in Kielce. If Barça win, they will continue on top of Group A with at least four points more than Kielce and Vardar, their main hunters after Rhein-Neckar Löwen’s loss against Veszprém. “If we get the two points it will look good, but it’s impossible to say because the group phase will be finished after the IHF World Championship and you never know what’s going to happen.”

“We go to Poland to get the two points. We want first place and it will be important to get these two points,” says Palmarsson. “It will be a hard game. They’re one of big teams in Europe with amazing fans. It’s hard to play there but we already did great matches away.

“I like these games where pressure is on maximum. Every player who is at this level wants to play in the most difficult circumstances, when pressure is the most.”

The fact that the Icelandic playmaker is shining again is not only great news for Barça, but for all handball fans. And it seems we have more to look forward to, as Palmarsson says: “Normally I’m at my highest level in April and May.”

TEXT: Laia Coll / cg