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18.03.2008, 10:00
Why GOG did better than expected?
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Eurohandball.com's Danish journalist analyes the unexpected success of GOG in the CL.
 

Why GOG did better than expected?

Finishing second in Group 4 of the Champions League Main Round with 7 points from 6 matches was more than most people expected from Danish champions, GOG Svendborg TGI.

Schefvert put a stylish team togetherMany changes in the squad after winning Danish title and an unstable performance in the domestic league did not provoke high expectations before the Main Round. Nevertheless, the team of the Swedish head coach, Ulf Schefvert, did better than expected. They had the courage to stick to their well known virtues: fast attacking play and counter attacks every time they had a chance.

This was not enough for the team from the island of Funen to qualify for the semi-finals, but that could not be expected with only the group winner going on and with mighty FC Barclelona in the group. Nevertheless, GOG´s performance was a great encouragement – not only to the club, but also for Danish club handball, which seems to follow the footsteps of the national team reaching greater and greater international results.

Promises of something great

The biggest success: beating Barcelona at homeIt came as no surprise that GOG managed to go on from their preliminary group on second position behind Portland San Antonio and in front of Tatran Presov and Al Bregenz. Already then, the two draws against Portland San Antonio were promising.

And great results came. The biggest achievement was, of course, the sensational 35-33 home win over FC Barcelona in the first (insane) match in Odense, where GOG have beaten Barcelona after being 24-17 behind 22 minutes from the end.

“Run, run, run,” GOG’s assistant coach, Thomas Ørneborg, shouted again and again in the second half every time that GOG were in ball possession – no matter if it was after a Barcelona goal or not. And the players ran, while the Barcelona stars seemed confused and tired by the deadly pace of the Danes.

“I think our fast way of playing is a good weapon against teams from Southern Europe, such as those in our group,” one of the fastest GOG players, right winger Lasse Svan Hansen told Eurohandball.com back then.

Mikkel Hansen confirmed his talent and outstanding abilitiesThe following matches proved him right to a certain degree, although the next match ended in a one goal defeat away to Hungarian champions, Pick Szeged, after a six-goal lead by the Danes.

GOG won all of their three home matches. In addition, even in Barcelona they managed to lead for 20 minutes before the Spanish favourites prevailed and qualified for the semi-finals with a 29-24 win.

GOG ended their Champions League campaign in style with a 30-30 away draw against Celje – a very difficult away court indeed.

A price to pay

There are warning signs for GOG in DenmarkGOG may have to pay a price for their CL success, though. The tough schedule in the CL and the relatively small number of players in the squad means that the team are only fourth in the Danish league at the moment. With three matches left, the club is still unsure to qualify for the championship play-offs.

Should that happen, that would be the first time for GOG in 21 years. In this case, they also lose their chance to qualify for the CL again with only the two best teams getting there.

Now they can now concentrate 100% on the national league and they can make it after all. After their success this season, GOG are undoubtedly hungry for more Champions League to come…


TEXT: Peter Bruun
 
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