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29.04.2011, 12:10◄ last page     

THW Kiel captain is confident they will fight back in the second leg of the Quarterfinals against FC Barcelona-Borges.

Ahlm: "An absolute classic"

The captain’s voice: Marcus Ahlm was the first player ever to raise the new VELUX EHF Champions League trophy last season.

And the captain of reigning champions THW Kiel hopes for another happy end on Sunday in the second leg of the Quarterfinals against FC Barcelona-Borges.

"We have analyzed our mistakes and hope of the support of our spectators," Ahlm says in this interview with ehfCL.com.

ehfCL.com: After your team had been hit hard by injuries this season, how does the current personnel situation look like?

Marcus Ahlm: Fortunately good, no player will be out for Sunday, we just have those normal little injuries which occur at the end of every season. It is almost a new situation for us to have such a big squad.

ehfCL.com: Kiel lost the first match in Barcelona 25:27, did you already analyze what mistakes led to this result?

Marcus Ahlm: We played very good in the first half, but when being one man down we failed too often. This was our problem in general that we were two weak with one player less on the court. We could have had a bigger advantage than 15:14 at the break, as we conceded three straight goals after the 15:11. So we have to change our performance with one man down.

ehfCL.com: You have played so many matches against FC Barcelona-Borges – what makes this duel so special?

Marcus Ahlm: This match is an absolute classic, as two teams with great tradition meet. Players, fans and media have a huge interest in such great games.

ehfCL.com: You personally have won against Barcelona more often than lost – is this a good omen?

Marcus Ahlm: I did not have a look on statistics and did not count the points before, but maybe you are right that I won more matches against Barca than I have lost. But I know that all games were great – and generally always close. By looking on Sunday the statistics are not so important.

ehfCL.com: THW have to win with a three goal difference to reach the VELUX EHF FINAL4. Do you have a certain match plan?

Marcus Ahlm: We always go full speed no matter against what opponent we play, we cannot do it else. You cannot plan the run-down of the match exactly as there are so many factors that can change very quickly. You cannot say: We play the first half like this and the second like that. We go full speed for 60 minutes and hope to qualify again for Cologne.

ehfCL.com: Will the defence including the goalkeepers decide this crucial game?

Marcus Ahlm: Like in all great matches the defence and the cooperation with the goalkeepers is the key to success. On top we need to start our counter attacks to make a success happen.

ehfCL.com: In 2010 you raised the trophy at the first ever VELUX EHF FINAL4. Was it one of the greatest moments of your career?

Marcus Ahlm: It was incredible, outstanding and emotional. In 2010 we were the hunters not the hunted in all competitions. In the Bundesliga we were behind Hamburg most of the season and turned the page with a victory in Hamburg.

In Cologne we had not been clear favourites as in my opinion Ciudad Real had taken that role. In our semi against Ciudad Real we were below most of the time but then took the victory thanks to a great catch-up chase. The same happened in the final against Barcelona. So we won all titles in within two weeks. A sensation when looking back.

ehfCL.com: As you probably will not be able to defend your German Bundesliga title, will you have to concentrate on the German Cup and the VELUX EHF Champions League?

Marcus Ahlm: Maybe it sounds boring as you might have heard this statement so often, but in our case it’s real: We focus on the next match and not on titles in future. If we beat Barcelona with more than two goals, we will be qualified for the VELUX EHF FINAL4, so then we concentrate on our Semifinal opponent. Like this we prepare for every competition we play. We know that we have a strong team and we know that we can win all matches. But at first we have to make it happen.

ehfCL.com: Considering this: Who is the favourite in your match against Barcelona on Sunday?

Marcus Ahlm: Barcelona have won the first game so we have to catch up. It will be a close match and I hope that our spectators will carry us all the way to Cologne. We need their support.

TEXT: Björn Pazen

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