Landin: ‘Of course we are favourites’Article
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INTERVIEW: THW Kiel goalkeeper Niklas Landin is well aware that his team are favourites to win the AKQUINET EHF Cup Finals
»2018-19 Men's News

Landin: ‘Of course we are favourites’

While these AKQUINET EHF Cup Finals will be THW Kiel's first final EHF Cup tournament in its current format, goalkeeper Niklas Landin has been there before and even won the competition.

In the 2012/13 season, the first year in this format, Landin won the competition with Rhein-Neckar Löwen at the final tournament in Nantes. Now, he is back at a similar event, and this time in the city where he plays daily.

“This was what we were hoping for and expecting, especially when it became a fact that we were going to host the event.

“It would have been really annoying if we had not been part of such an event on our own home ground, so it was cool that we succeeded,” Landin says.

“Of course, it is also cool to be playing for another great title, so we will obviously do all we can to achieve that,” says the Danish national team goalkeeper.

Together with his THW teammates, he has gone through the EHF cup this season as the only team not losing a single point so far.

“I think we have done our job, our duty,” Landin says. “We have been favourites in more or less all our matches, although we have had trouble in some away games, but in most cases, we've been able to win our games relatively easily.

“Now, we can await some really tough matches, but of course, the fact that we're playing at home makes us favourites to take the title. I admit that our road has been fairly easy so far,” says the 30-year-old shot-stopper.

Used to high expectations

Everywhere in the city of Kiel, you can feel the weight of expectation. Everyone expects their local heroes to win the EHF Cup. For Landin, this is nothing new.

“That is the way it is every time we play at home,” he explains. “No matter if we play a (VELUX EHF) Champions League match, a Bundesliga match or an EHF Cup match, only one thing counts: regardless of how many injuries we may have or who we meet, two points are a must.

“In this particular case, of course, four points is what people require,” he adds.

Kiel´s first opponent in the attempt to live up to expectations from their fans will be TTH Holstebro in the first semi-final on Friday evening.

“To me, it's always a little special to be meeting a Danish team,” Landin says.

“There are some more emotions involved, and there are some relations that go further back than if you were going to meet a foreign team. So, yes, meeting a Danish team is special to me, and I am looking forward to the match, which I hope will be a good one,” he says.



No special preparations for Bramming

Meeting Holstebro means Kiel will also face the clear EHF Cup top scorer.

Magnus Bramming, Holstebro’s left wing, is way ahead in the top scorers’ list, being 18 goals in front of his fellow Dane, Füchse Berlin right wing Hans Lindberg.

“I am not preparing for him in any special way, though – not in any different way than I prepare for any other wing players,” Landin says.

“However, we will obviously have to look at where to open up, and on who we would like the most not to get too many scoring opportunities. Considering how well Bramming has been doing in the Danish league as well as in the EHF Cup, he might not be the player we would give the most chances to,” adds the experienced goalkeeper.

One day at a time

Landin emphasises that his thoughts are almost entirely on the semi-final and not much on the opponent for a possible final on Saturday.

“I do not know if Füchse or Porto would suit us better,” he says. “We know Berlin relatively well, as we were also lucky enough to meet them in the German cup, but I do not think it is important to look so much forward to day two.

“Everyone is under pressure, not least physically, so what is important is really just winning the first match and finding the necessary resources,” Landin believes. “Tactical considerations are not really that important with regards to day two. It is much more about finding the way of playing that works.

“However it would always be more fun to play against a team you do not meet all the time. It would be good not to have to play Berlin once again, but for now, we only think about Holstebro,” Landin concludes.

TEXT: Peter Bruun/jh