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24.05.2013, 20:03
Straňovský aiming for happy conclusion to a fairy tale season
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The first Slovakian to play at the VELUX EHF FINAL4 is not satisfied with just being there
 

Straňovský aiming for happy conclusion to a fairy tale season

With the VELUX EHF FINAL4 just a week away, ehfCL.com spoke with the recent Spanish ASOBAL League winner with FC Barcelona Intersport, Martin Straňovský.

The Slovakian international will become the first from his nation to play at the prestigious event in Cologne.

“I think it is a great achievement, not only for me personally, but for Slovakian handball in general.

“The match with Kielce will be my most important match of the career. Hopefully that will not be true by the following day,” said the 27-year-old player, who has his sights set on just one goal.

“I am sure the atmosphere will be great in Germany, the arena will be sold out. People in Germany love handball. I’m really looking forward amazing weekend; I will enjoy it in all aspects.

“The Champions League together with the Olympics are the two most important competitions for a handball player and I feel honoured to take my part with Barca. It proves that dreams do come true.”

The Spanish league title for FC Barcelona was very special for the left winger. Not only it was his first league title ever, but FC Barcelona made the final step in Leon, where his Spanish adventure started back in 2005.

Having spent seven seasons in Reale Ademar, Straňovský is delighted after his first season in Barcelona, where he has scored 25 goals.

“I really enjoyed my spell in Barcelona. We won the league; we are fighting for a European title. This is the best season of my career.” 
Taking the league title well in advance allowed Xavi Pascual´s men enough time to start preparing for the weekend in Cologne.

“It is definitely an advantage. As soon as we secured the title, we started with preparations for the ´grand´ weekend. We had specific training sessions, analysing all three sides very carefully – we want to be ready for all scenarios.”

“All four teams have a good chance of winning the trophy. At this level, you cannot expect an easy opponent. If you want to be crowned as champions, you have to beat everyone on the way to glory. That is our plan, simple as that,” admitted ‘Straňo’.

Barcelona were really tested by their traditional rivals from the Spanish capital in the quarter-final. Atlético Madrid proved to be hard nut to crack.

“They are our biggest rivals and we were happy to beat them in the quarter-finals. It was an energy boost for us, although it was a very tough affair.

The five goal margin after the first game in Madrid was difficult to overcome, but we pulled out superb performance in the return leg at home. However, it was a warning for us to stay focused on every game. I think we learned our lesson.”

Coming from a smaller club, Martin had to get used to different habits, with a bigger city and a bigger club comes higher ambitions and more pressure.

“In Leon I was used to play every game and spent a lot of time on the court. Here I play less, the coach rotates the squad and especially in league games youngsters get their chance.”

“Pressure on players in Barcelona is bigger than in Leon. In a big club like Barcelona the expectations are high from the fans, coaching staff, from everyone and they have to be. It is one of the reasons why we are so successful.”

Barcelona take on KS Vive Targi Kielce in the first semi-final of the day on 1 June at 15:15 hrs. in Cologne’s LANXESS arena. Martin Straňovský is aware that the Kielce match will be no walkover.

“Kielce are a difficult opponent, they have many Polish internationals. They are strong as a team with great individuals and have lost only one match this season in the competition, but we believe in our strengths and we know we can beat them if we give everything,“ concluded Straňovský.


TEXT: Tomáš Čunčík / cor
 
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