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18.04.2016, 17:11
Pavlović believes Zagreb can make it to Cologne
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FEATURE: Young star of HC PPD Zagreb Domagoj Pavlovic became one of the leaders on court and is his team's top scorer so far this season
 

Pavlović believes Zagreb can make it to Cologne

Just a few seasons ago, he was playing for a mid-table club in Croatian Premier League, now he is Zagreb’s top scorer in the VELUX EHF Champions League. 23-year-old Domagoj Pavlovic found his way from the small city of Ivanić to Zagreb where he plays a big role in Veselin Vujovic’s team.

"I thought everything was going to be more difficult for me, because I came from a small city close to Zagreb and from a small club. I started in Ivanić, then Dugo Selo and Dubrava and finally came to Zagreb," Domagoj Pavlovic tells ehfCL.com.

"Before Zagreb, they were all small clubs where I was the best player with privileges to do what I am not allowed to now in Zagreb. My adjustment to Zagreb’s style of play was very fast, so now everything here is great."

His great adjustment is very visible to all handball fans around Europe. He is fast, with a great spatial awareness and has good shooting skills. In his second season in the VELUX EHF Champions League, Pavlovic scored 56 goals so far and is Zagreb's top scorer.

"I'm definitely satisfied with my performance this season. Knowing that I play with Zlatko Horvat, Josip Valcic, Stipe Mandalinic and many more good players and being best scorer in the team is a great thing for me. That pushes me to work even harder and to be even better than I am now. Compared to last season, I’m definitely better and next year I want even more," explains Pavlovic.

"My teammates helped me a lot. Especially in the beginning when I was adjusting to the new club, style of play and to the life in Zagreb I had never experienced before. They helped me a lot in my development, even more now when I play as a centre back. Before and after training, we stay and talk a lot about handball. I want to say thank you to all of them, my teammates and coaches."

Pavlovic came to Zagreb as a left back, but had a history of being a versatile player who could cover all positions. After Josip Valcic’s injury, he started playing as a centre back and showed great talent.

"I can play in every position as long as it is not sitting on the bench or being in the stands. I can cover all back positions and even left wing. Most important for me is that I play. I try to play the best I can no matter which position I'm in."

Zagreb won the bronze medal of the SEHA League and qualified for the VELUX EHF Champions League Quarter-finals, matching their success of last year. Barcelona eliminated them last season and this year, Zagreb again have very a tough opponent against whom they already played in group phase, Paris Saint-Germain Handball.

After a tough defeat in Paris (34:23), Zagreb were very close to winning in Arena Zagreb (23:25) and Pavlovic hopes that this time they can go further: "We were so close last time we played. Small things decided that match. At key moments our game wasn’t at the top level and they were pushing until they managed to win.

"We had some kind of a black hole again when they scored two or three goals. In matches like that, it is not easy to catch up with PSG. I think that we have a great chance to surprise PSG in front of our fans though. Taking also into consideration my and my teammates current form, we have a good chance of winning and we will see what will happen in Paris then."

PSG stands between Zagreb and what would be their biggest success – qualifying for the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in Cologne. It may seem quite impossible to some, but Domagoj Pavlovic and his teammates already showed that they can surprise anyone in Europe's top flight competition.

"If we didn’t believe that we can go all the way to Cologne, we wouldn’t even be in the quarter-finals. No one believed in us in Mannheim against Löwen. Everyone said we didn’t stand a chance since we lost at home and play against the best team in the German Bundesliga, but in the end we won.

"The most important thing is that we players believe that we can go to Cologne and I think that we will succeed," concluded Pavlović, who already extended his contract with Zagreb until 2019. He is definitely a jewel Zagreb want to keep.


TEXT: Jelena Bagarić / es, cor
 
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