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04.02.2008, 11:22
Injuries pull Danish teams back
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Read the analysis of Peter Bruun on the Danish women's teams starting the CL Main Round with big ambitions.
 

Analysis

Injuries pull Danish teams back

The headline of the analysis may sound somewhat exaggerated as two Danish women’s teams are still in the Main Round of the Champions League. However, if you accept the fact that many people see the Danish League as the strongest female handball league in the world, qualifying from second position in the group phase – both Viborg HK and Slagelse DT came in second – is not quite good enough.

Viborg have great expectations from the rest of the seasonAs a matter of fact, the Danish performance in the Women’s Champions League so far this season is a step backwards compared to last year when Denmark had no less than three teams among the final eight – Viborg, Slagelse and Aalborg DH.

The same three teams had the chance again this season, but Aalborg DH did not even pass the qualification this time. This seemed surprising back then, but this was the start of a disappointing season for Aalborg in the relegation zone of the Danish League at the moment. This bad performance led to the sacking of Norwegian head coach, Leif Gautestad, shortly after New Year.

Viborg’s ambitions alive

Viborg, on the other hand, have been considered to be among the hottest favourites of the Champions League – not only in Denmark, but in large parts of Europe too. The winners from 2006 expect nothing less themselves.

“We want to win the Champions League,” players and Peter Cassøe, managing director, repeated the statement again and again.

Respect to this, a second place in Group D after two defeats against Romanian champions Oltchim Valcea and an away draw against Montenegrin champions T-Mobile Budocnost can only be seen as disappointment.

They do not seem too disappointed in Viborg, though, and their ambition is obviously still the same. The team have been severely hit by injuries and this explains the quite poor results to a certain extent.

Varzaru was injured the entire seasonPlaying without key players such as Christina Várzaru, Kristine Lunde, Henriette Mikkelsen, Christina Roslyng and Lene Thomsen, as well as goalkeeper Louise Bager Due, for a number of matches was hard for the team. When you add that both Grit Jurack and Bojana Popovic have also been sidelined for shorter periods, it is quite obvious that you could not expect too much of the team lately.

This is also the reason that you can still sense the optimism inside the ambitious club. The injury situation is beginning to ease and at the moment the vast majority of injured players are expected to be fit for the Main Round of the Champions League by 9 February before the first home match against Zvezda Zvenigorod from Russia.

Even with their strongest line-up, however, Viborg are facing a serious challenge in Group 2 with Hypo Niederösterreich – apparently stronger than ever – and ruling Champions League winners Slagelse DT (who recently defeated Viborg by 30-28 in a domestic league match in Viborg).

Therefore Viborg may still have to improve in order to live up to their own ambitions of winning the trophy for the second time in the history of the club.

Slagelse’s problems

When it comes to Slagelse that finished second in Group A after Hungarian Győri Audi ETO and playing in the same group as Viborg, the situation is partly similar.

Slagelse will have to fight hard with some of their stars leaving the clubLong-term injuries of several key players have deteriorated the results of the title holders. For instance, the new star of the team, Gabriela Rotis-Nagy, has not even stepped on court yet!

In Slagelse, however, injuries are not the only problem. During the Christmas break, three players – Katarina Bulatovic, Anja Obradovic and Signe Pedersen – left the club due to the uncertainty about the future of Slagelse. Head coach Anja Andersen will leave the club for FCK Håndbold at the end of the season.

However, Anja Andersen is so well known for her high ambitions and there is no doubt that she will want more than anything else to finish her eight years with Slagelse in style. Considering her tactical skills, there may come some more surprise from the CL winners of 2004, 2005 and 2007.


TEXT: Peter Bruun
 
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