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EHF European League

EHF Finals Men 2023 media call quotes

Quotes from the media calls at the EHF Finals Men 2023 in Flensburg on Friday 26 May, ahead of the semi-finals on Saturday 28 May. 

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Montpellier HB (FRA)

Valentin Porte (FRA) — right back

On his and Montpellier’s experience: 

"It is a pleasure for us to be here. Many of our players have the experience of playing the Champions League EHF FINAL4 in Cologne in 2018 — maybe this is an advantage. It will be my job to use my experience from former tournaments to guide our young players." 

On the favourites for the trophy:

"Maybe some say Montpellier or Berlin are the favourites, but I am sure all four teams have the same chances. In the end, you have to play two top performances in two days, and Granollers or Göppingen can win as well as Montpellier or Berlin." 

On the chance to become the first French winner of the second-tier European cup competition: 

"This is a bonus motivation for us. We came here to win and to end this story by winning the trophy. We are aware of that fact that we can make history." 

Rémi Desbonnet (FRA) — goalkeeper

On the key to winning this competition format: 

"This format can always cause some surprises and not always the best team or the favourite wins the trophy. You have to be on top for two days, if you want to be successful — physically and mentally."

Yanis Lenne (FRA) — wing

On the favourites for the title:  

"We are proud to be among the four best teams in this competition. All teams that made it to Flensburg deserve it and have the same chance of 25 per cent."

On their path to the EHF Finals: 

"We played a strong international season, having in mind that we faced top teams already in the group stage, like Göppingen, Schaffhausen and Benfica. And then we profited in the knockout stage, that we had been tested that hard. Now I hope we are ready to play for the trophy. Two years ago, Berlin beat us in the quarter-finals. Now both sides are back on this level. This shows that we belong to the top of Europe."

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Füchse Berlin

Jaron Siewert (GER) — coach

On the chances to win the trophy: 

"It is realistic to say that all teams have the chances of 25 per cent to win the trophy. Any of the four teams have imprinted the competition with a high-performance level and are a well-deserved part of the EHF Finals."

On the semi-final against Montpellier: 

"To face Montpellier in the semi is a classic 50:50 match. They have proved their strength in the French league and in the European League. They have the experience from winning the Champions League. If we manage to beat them, it will all be about the mental preparation for Sunday, and to recover as quick as possible. We need two top matches to raise the trophy on Sunday."

On the long final tournament experience of Füchse Berlin: 

"It is the second EHF Finals for me and for those players who are in our current squad. I am not sure about their experience at final tournaments, but of course they have the experience of playing successfully at European and World Championships. They know what is needed to stand on the podium. We have some experience, but it is all about performance this weekend, not the past."

On the support of Danish fans because of four Danish players in the squad: 

"We count on the Danish fans — they can be a factor. Our Danish players are optimistic about that. When we played in Aarhus and Skjern the arenas were sold-out and many fans came in the Füchse jersey to support our players. The atmosphere was breathtaking and we really hope to get some support even here in Flensburg." 

Hans Lindberg (DEN) — wing

On whether they are the favourites:  

"There are no favourites. It is all about the form you can bring on the court twice in two days. Four strong teams have qualified. This means you have to show a top performance twice. We want to do so, but this does not mean that we are a bigger favourites than the others."

On the semi-final against Montpellier: 

"They are really strong, but we would have needed to play on the same level if we would have faced one the two other teams. When you have one weak day, the trophy is out of reach. All teams have proved that they belong in this tournament. Now one team will prove that the trophy belongs to them. Any team would deserve to stand on the winners’ podium on Sunday. We will have a hammer match against Montpellier, but I hope we are well prepared."

Fabian Wiede (GER) — right back 

On the hopes to win the trophy: 

"Every team has the quality to win this tournament and to beat each other. We have an extremely strong team, and squad-wise I am even sure that we have the best team at the EHF Finals. We want to win. We will give it all." 

On Montpellier:  

"On paper and from the names of their players, they are the biggest rival for the trophy. They combine quality and experience. Many of them play for national teams. It will be extremely tough and maybe it was a realistic prediction even before the start of the group phase that Berlin and Montpellier can duel in the final. All other teams have made this long way, so we have respect of all."

On Füchse's final tournament experience: 

"This is extremely important, to know how to prepare on the Sunday when you just played your Saturday match. But Montpellier know how to win the Champions League and Göppingen won the EHF Cup several times, therefore, their experience is not that much smaller. They know how to deal with this format."

Jacob Holm (DEN) — centre back

On the feeling in the team ahead of the weekend: 

"We have a good feeling. We came here yesterday to mentally prepare and we have a training later. We're looking forward to the games tomorrow."

On the semi-final against Montpellier:

"I think it's going to be a hard match. Montpellier is a good team. They have strong players — world-class players in every position. I think it's going to be a really fast match. I think we need to play really good in defence and run a lot of fast breaks in order to win the match. In general i think it's going to be a really good match."

On the potential final opponents:

"We're just focused on the match tomorrow. We take it step by step and the first step is Montpellier. We throw everything in to get the victory tomorrow."

On Berlin's season:

"Our group this year was not easy, but we played really well in the group and then there came some difficulties in the quarter-finals against Kadetten. I think it was good for us as a team that we managed to fight through these difficulties, losing the first leg in Kadetten and then winning the match at home. I think it was good that we struggled a little bit before the final four because this is for sure not going to be easy."

On the Danish contingent at Füchse Berlin:

"I came there five years ago and since then, we always been like three to five Danish players, even more Scandinavian players. I think it's natural, when you have a national team that does well in the big tournaments, that the clubs are looking that way, and I think that's what happened with the Danish national players and the Danish players in general. At the moment, there's many Danish players in almost all of the big clubs in in europe, and I think that's a result of three World Championship [titles] and a couple of medals."

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Fraikin BM. Granollers

Antonio Rama Garcia (ESP) — coach

On being back at Flensburg after eliminating SG Flensburg-Handewitt on their ground in the quarter-finals: 

"It feels great to be back again, and I am much more relaxed compared to before the quarter-final match here. We have no pressure on us — we simply can enjoy being part of this event. We are here to make a good result, but any result is a good result for us."

On the expectations for the semi-final against Göppingen: 

"We are the underdogs against Göppingen and against the team we will play on Sunday, but of course we aim to win both matches. Neither Göppingen nor us were among the top favourites of going all this way before the season, so both teams can enjoy the semi."

Yusuf Faruk (NGR) — right back 

On his emotions on the eve of the semi-finals: 

"I am so happy to be here. I am really excited that we made it here. We fight for the trophy, but we know that we are not the favourites."

On the season:

"It's a long journey, a hard journey. But it's amazing to be back here because we always believed we can be here one day. This is our dream to be here."

On whether knocking out Flensburg helped boost confidence in the team further:

"It's something totally different to play against a great team like this, and to win against Flensburg is not easy. But we are happy to win this match because we dream big. 

On representing Nigeria at this level:

"It's really amazing, being the first person to play in Europe, to be representing Nigeria and this handball family. I'm really happy and I'm so proud." 

Antonio Garcia Robledo (ESP) — left back 

On being a key for his team to make it to Flensburg: 

"I needed to get 39 years to play my best season of the past years, maybe of my whole career. I can fight for a title with my home club, where I played when I was a young player and for which my heart beats. I am full of confidence for this weekend."

On his expectations: 

"We have this dream to win the trophy, and we can make it come true. We are already among the four best teams of this competition — this is great but greater things can come. It is already a super-experience to be in Flensburg. We have beaten Flensburg here. Maybe we can repeat a success like this against Göppingen."

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Frisch Auf Göppingen (GER)

Markus Baur (GER) — coach

On the key to winning the semi-final: 

"First, it is about a maximum of attitude in attack and defence. It will be tough for our attack, as Granollers play with a very special defence, puting a lot of pressure on the opponent. In defence, we have to stop their classical Spanish match play. Then we have the chance."

On the favourite role in the semi:

"Rating the squads and the individual players, we have a deeper bench and some more international experience. This could make us the favourite, but due to the completely different playing system, it is a 50:50 match. For Granollers it is easier to adapt to our playing system as it is for us with their system. Both are eager to make it to the final, so we will see."

On Granollers’ role as the underdogs: 

"If we consider the domestic league tables only, we are definitely the underdogs, not them. We are in 14th position in Germany. They won at Flensburg — neither Berlin nor us did that in this season, and Montpellier’s last big win at Flensburg dates back 20 years." 

Tim Kneule (GER) — centre back

On being stronger in the European League compared to the Bundesliga: 

"We gained confidence, mainly in the Last 16 and quarter-finals, when we won all matches after a tough group phase. Victories always provide you with extra power. Some have not expected us and Granollers to go that far, but we are no surprise packs."

On the semi-final against Granollers: 

"We expect a tough hard fight against Granollers. We have prepared well, mainly for this Spanish playing style. We are warned and we are ready."

Marcel Schiller (GER) — wing

On the composition of their semi-final: 

"I would not agree that we did not belong to the favourites for this EHF Finals. We have a strong squad. Last season we finished fifth in the world's best domestic competition. Currently we perform below par in the German Bundesliga, but looking only upon the European League, we played a great season. We deserved to go all the way to Flensburg." 

On their opponent Granollers and the favourite role: 

"Granoillers eliminated Flensburg in the quarter-final. I do not know if this would happen again — this was something special. So I am sure we are the favourites in this semi-final and we take this role. The main key will be the defence, like in all European League matches. And we have to avoid easy mistakes in attack, as Granollers play with full speed and punish you immediately."

On how to get the neutral fans on their side: 

"It is always important to get those neutral fans on your side, as this gives you extra power. We won the tournament in Nantes when we faced the hosts. We won the trophy when we were the hosts — and there were almost no neutral fans in our arena. We will do everything to make them cheer for us in Flensburg." 

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