Lazarov: It's all about the team
He is the most successful ever top scorer at a single EHF EURO event and a single world championship, he was twice top scorer of the EHF Champions League and is currently top scorer for VELUX EHF FINAL4 participants Atletico Madrid: But for Macedonian Kiril Lazarov his individual performance is unimportant compared to the team’s success, as he says in this interview with ehfCL.com before the semi-final against AG Kobenhavn.
ehfCL.com: Atletico Madrid is the only team to have reached the VELUX EHF FINAL4 for a third straight time – what is the key to success?
Kiril Lazarov: Stability and consistency are the keys, on top of being a quality team. Everybody knows what we need to do to be successful. And we showed all this in the tough Group Stages and the games in the knockout stage. So we are really looking forward to being in Cologne for the VELUX EHF FINAL4.
ehfCL.com: Do you agree that other teams had tougher opponents in the Last 16 and quarter finals?
Kiril Lazarov: All teams who reach the Last 16 or the quarter finals are top teams. Every team which has come so far wants to go on to win overall – so there were no easy opponents at that stage.
ehfCL.com: Did you expect AG Kobenhavn to come so far and eliminate FC Barcelona on their way to Cologne?
Kiril Lazarov: I have seen a lot of AGK matches. They play a really modern style of handball and saved their best performances for the top contenders. They were better than Barcelona and deserved to eliminate the defending champions.
ehfCL.com: In 2011 you were at the VELUX EHF FINAL4 with your team – what are your memories?
Kiril Lazarov: We played very well twice, but we lacked the concentration necessary to beat Barcelona in the final.
ehfCL.com: You mention the final defeat in 2011 – what are your expectations for 2012?
Kiril Lazarov: First we need to concentrate 100 per cent on the semi-final against Kobenhavn. If we lose, we do not need to dream or hope anymore. All four teams have virtually the same chance of winning the trophy.
ehfCL.com: Will the semi-final be special because of the match-up between the two top scorers Mikkel Hansen and Kiril Lazarov?
Kiril Lazarov: We all have big respect for Mikkel Hansen, currently the best handball player in the world. If we want to win, we have to stop him. Looking at our team it is not a single player who counts, but the collective.
ehfCL.com: Does this mean that the defence will decide?
Kiril Lazarov: You can only win decisive games if you have a strong defence. To be successful in defence means that you have more confidence in attack – and then you may win.
ehfCL.com: Is there any team you favour to reach the final from the other semi-final?
Kiril Lazarov: Due to their tradition and experience THW Kiel are favourites, but this game could well be a close one, too.
ehfCL.com: What will the interest in the VELUX EHF FINAL4 be like in your home-country of FYR Macedonia?
Kiril Lazarov: Handball is the number one sport in FYR Macedonia and a lot of Macedonians will watch the VELUX EHF FINAL4 on TV. But I also know that a lot of Macedonians – especially from Germany – will come to Cologne to support me.
TEXT: Björn Pazen