Fabregas: Winning a second straight Champions League title would mean a lotArticle
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INTERVIEW: In 2017, Ivan Cupic became the first player to win back-to-back VELUX EHF FINAL4s. This year, only Ludovic Fabregas has the chance to become the second, when he fights for the trophy with Barça

Fabregas: Winning a second straight Champions League title would mean a lot

Only once has a player won two straight VELUX EHF FINAL4s. That player was Ivan Cupic, who climbed the podium in Cologne with both PGE Vive Kielce and HC Vardar. Now, at the age of 22, Ludovic Fabregas has the opportunity to repeat this achievement and enter history.

“I don’t quite care about the statistics, but this is a goal that I set for myself last summer. I don’t want to sound too pretentious, but winning the Champions League would be yet another way of moving forward, of proving that going to Barcelona was the right choice,” says the French line player.

Last season, he was playing for title winners Montpellier – one of the three French teams that took part in the VELUX EHF FINAL4. This time, he will be one of just five French players visiting LANXESS arena. Fabregas’ former club Montpellier did not make it out of the group phase, while HBC Nantes and Paris Saint-Germain stumbled in the quarter-finals. Are we seeing some kind of change in European handball right now? 

“I think the level of Montpellier and Nantes hasn’t changed, but their opponents look at them differently. I know that when we played against them this season, we took them very, very seriously. Maybe last season these two clubs kind of surprised a lot of other teams, but this has changed” says Fabregas, who had the pleasure of visiting France twice as part of the Champions League this season.

Both times, Fabregas was welcomed with huge displays of love and joy. Even living a couple of hundred kilometres away, he is still part of the French handball family. But he showed that, on the court, there is no place for friendship. 

In this season of the Champions League, the Barça players have shown their opponents little to no mercy. Only Veszprém and Rhein-Neckar Löwen managed to beat them in the group phase. “Since the day we started preparation, the Champions League has been the number one goal. Here, in Barcelona, losing is not an option. There is such a winning culture that, as a new player, I had to fit in right away,” says the French international.

Fabregas felt that the team had to give 100 per cent every night in order to win – and he also noticed that some of the players who were also part of Barça last season had some unfinished business with the Champions League: 

“I could feel some frustration to have been outed that early last season. Of course, the players recognised they had lost to the future FINAL4 winners, but still, it provided extra motivation when starting the season.” 

Now it is time to use this motivation. But their first opponents, Vardar, will be just as pumped up with the goal of winning the Champions League again. Even though anything can happen in Cologne, Fabregas has still packed some experience from last season that he will use this time around.

“I learnt that, in Cologne, you must only focus on the games. You have to get through all of the events, the signings and the Friday night show, enjoying it, but not too much,” says Fabregas. “It’s nice to have people cheering you on the podium for the show, but it’s better to have your fans cheering because you’ve won on Sunday.”

TEXT: Kevin Domas / cg