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01.11.2014, 08:30
Long legs vs strong arms
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FACE TO FACE: Former World Handball Player of the Year Cristina Neagu will try to overcome Jana Krause, one of the tallest goalkeepers of the EHF Women’s Champions League, when THC hosts Buducnost on Sunday.
 

Long legs vs strong arms

Standing at nearly 1,90 metres tall, with long legs and a huge span – when Jana Krause stands in the way of the attackers, the gap to score becomes quite small. The 27-year-old goalkeeper of Thüringer HC has proved her strengths in the two first group matches of the EHF Women’s Champions League.

But the task for her and her teammates on Sunday (14:30 hrs. local times, live on www.ehfTV.com) is even greater than the one at Skopje last weekend.

The unbeaten leader of Group B, Buducnost Podgorica, will arrive in Nordhausen. So Krause will have a face-to-face meeting with a stronghold of an attack, but also with a former World Handball Player of the Year: Romanian Cristina Neagu.

A challenge for all shooters

Before the duel on the court, ehfCL.com spoke to both the shooter and goalkeeper, and both were full of praise for the other.

“I faced Cristina Neagu several times at club level and less times with the national team, as when I was part of the national team she had a long-term shoulder injury,” said Krause, adding: “She is a world class player. I will study her shots by video in a very in-depth way.

“But regarding the Buducnost back court stars it is hard for a goalkeeper to focus only one player, as they still have Katarina Bulatovic and Milena Knezevic.”

On the other hand Neagu (26), who plays her second season for the Montenegrin powerhouse, is aware of the strength of the THC goalkeeper.

“I really think Jana Krause is a great goalkeeper, one of the most consistent goalkeepers in the Women’s EHF Champions League. She represents a challenge for all shooters, as her height makes her very hard to beat.

“Also, one of her best attributes is that she can very easily reach shots from the backcourt. Therefore I, and Buducnost, will have a very difficult game.”

Two seasons ago THC managed to beat Buducnost on home court, but Krause at this time played for Buxtehude and Neagu for Valcea – so both can look ahead without dwelling on the past: “Our chance to beat them at home is much higher than to win in Podgorica one week later, as they are one of the, if not even the, best team at home,” said Krause.

Neagu has respect for the German champions, even though her team had a splendid start with a clear win over Vardar Skopje: “It will be very difficult in Nordhausen, as I know they have great fans behind them. Also, their squad is very strong and I think we will be in for a balanced game. We respect them and we want to win the game, in order to protect our 100% record”.

Though her team is in the underdog role, Jana Krause is very much looking forward the duel with the 2012 Champions League winner and 2014 finallist: “It is a great opportunity to face players like Cristina or a club like Buducnost. Regardless the result we will enjoy the experience, as we don’t face a team like them every day.”

On the other hand, Neagu is very satisfied with the way it worked since she arrived at Podgorica: “Buducnost is now a stronger team than last year, because we had a lot of transfers and needed time to gel. Now, we are more consistent, we know our plays almost perfectly and execute them with ease.”

Familiar faces

Krause has a new role in her team after Maike März ended her career after the previous season. The Munich born goalkeeper is the new number 1 at THC and is enjoying it: “It is really new for me and all the team. Before we had two goalkeepers at the same level, now it is also my job to guide our young goalkeeper Dinah Eckerle. But those shoes fit perfectly to me.”

Besides this face to face duel, both are looking forward to seeing other well known faces at the match on Sunday.

Jana Krause will meet Clara Woltering, who she played in the German national team with, while Neagu is looking forward to see her former coach Herbert Müller.

“He coached me in Brașov from 2008 to 2010, but I have not met him for a long time. He is special for me, as he was there when I was still new to handball and I cannot wait to meet him again.”

The tension and excitement will be high both on and off the court and the result will definitely be crucial for both sides in the battle for a strong qualifying position for the main round.


TEXT: Björn Pazen, Adrian Costeiu / cor
 
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