Increased pressure no problem for Sandell
By beating PSG in the semi-final last season, Aalborg did what nobody expected — overthrow one of the best teams in the world and make it all the way to the EHF Champions League Final. Barça proved to be the better team, but Aalborg still charmed the handball world.
This year Aalborg will have to handle increased pressure from media, supporters and opponents. But that does not seem to worry Lukas Sandell.
“We only enjoy it — and most of all we enjoy having our supporters back in the arena,” says Sandell.
“It is natural since we have added players like Aron Palmarsson, Kristian Björnsen, Jesper Nielsen and Martin Larsen. But we have not noticed the increased pressure — not yet at least.
“The biggest change is having our supporters back in the arena, which we really enjoy.”
But Aalborg did not see a perfect start to the season, since they lost their league opener against SönderjyskE. From that point, the team have won every game they have played.
“We are not pleased with our performance against SönderjyskE but we have a few new players and it takes time to get to know each other. We had 17 technical faults in that game and that is not good enough. But after that, things have looked a lot better,” says the Swedish right back.
For those who witnessed Aalborg’s game against Zagreb in the first group match of the EHF Champions League 2021/22, they saw an Aalborg side that looked a lot like the team who had huge success last season.
“It looked very good for us defensively and we would score on the fast break. I believe that we only conceded four goals in the first 20 minutes of the second half and that helped us a lot,” says Sandell.
Our goal is to be at our best at the end of the season. It is all about getting to know each other and finding the right timing.
Sandell believes that Aalborg will only get better as the season continues:
“The more games we play and the longer the season goes on the better we will become. Our goal is to be at our best at the end of the season. It is all about getting to know each other and finding the right timing. We have come a long way already, so everything is looking good.”
Aalborg’s next game in the EHF Champions League is at home against Montpellier. The French side secured one point in their difficult round 1 clash against Pick Szeged.
“That was very impressive by Montpellier. I believe it will be a tough and even game — and a fun game to play in front of our supporters,” says the 24-year-old.
Even though it is a game between a Danish side and a French side, there will be a lot of Swedish players on the court. Aalborg have five Swedes in their squad (Mikael Aggefors, Jonas Samuelsson, Jesper Nielsen, Felix Claar and Lukas Sandell) while Lucas Pellas and Karl Wallinius represent Montpellier. In addition, Icelandic Olafur Gudmundsson played in IFK Kristianstad for many years.
Sandell is looking forward to the ‘Swedish clash’.
“That is something all of us Swedish players will thoroughly enjoy,” concludes Sandell.