Kohlbacher: Two goals is anything but a cushion to rest onArticle
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INTERVIEW OF THE WEEK: After scoring 11 times in the first leg against Nantes, Löwen line player Jannik Kohlbacher hopes to end his side’s Last 16 curse in the Match of the Week
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Kohlbacher: Two goals is anything but a cushion to rest on

With 11 goals against HBC Nantes, 23-year-old Jannik Kohlbacher was the top scorer of the first-leg matches of the VELUX EHF Champions League Last 16. In his very first season after arriving from HSG Wetzlar, he is definitely the rising star among the flock of the Lions. 

Currently, the Rhein-Neckar Löwen and Germany line player is ranked sixth in the Champions League top scorer list, with 78 goals. 

At the age of 20, Kohlbacher was the youngest player of Germany’s EHF EURO 2016-winning squad. Now, he hopes the Match of the Week on Saturday in Nantes will see his club side make it to the Champions League Quarter-final. Löwen won the first duel 34:32. 

In this exclusive interview for ehfCL.com, Kohlbacher talks about the chances in Nantes, his career and the brilliant cooperation with playmaker Andy Schmid.

ehfCL.com: 11 goals against Nantes must have been a dream come true for you…

Jannik Kohlbacher: Indeed, it really worked well for me personally. From the team’s point of view, I had hoped for a clearer victory than by only two goals.

ehfCL.com: In the last four years, Löwen were always knocked out in the Last 16. How do you rate the chances to end this Champions League curse?

Jannik Kohlbacher: The chances are still alive. We need another fully concentrated performance on Saturday, then we can manage to proceed.

ehfCL.com: What will be the key to success?

Jannik Kohlbacher: We have to be wide awake from the very first minute, as a two-goal advantage is anything but a cushion you can rest upon. We want to win in Nantes, this is for sure.

ehfCL.com: What needs to be improved compared to the first leg?

Jannik Kohlbacher: We conceded too many goals, so we mainly need to strengthen our defence to have a chance in Nantes.

ehfCL.com: You arrived at Rhein-Neckar Löwen last summer – how is it possible that the cooperation with playmaker Andy Schmid is already on such a world-class level, as proven in the first leg against Nantes?

Jannik Kohlbacher: Andy is an outstanding playmaker, who coordinates perfectly with the line players. It is really impressive that our cooperation works well after such a short term.

ehfCL.com: What has been the main lesson since you started playing for Löwen?

Jannik Kohlbacher: To reconcile all those matches and appointments. 

ehfCL.com: Was having the chance to play the VELUX EHF Champions League one of the reasons for your transfer from Wetzlar to Mannheim?

Jannik Kohlbacher: I simply wanted to make the next step of my career and that includes playing on an international level constantly. 

ehfCL.com: Was it hard for you to switch from a World Championship on home ground to the daily business at your club?

Jannik Kohlbacher: It was a short time to recover, but this World Championship on home ground was such an incredible experience, which boosted me with so much extra motivation to give everything for my club in the remaining months. 

TEXT: Björn Pazen / cg