Haaß: We are always the hunted
Michael Haaß aims for the triple this season. After winning the EHF Cup in the old structure twice with Frisch Auf Göppingen 2011 and 2012, the German international (29), who had already won the EHF Cup with Essen in 2005, hopes that his team will be able to go all the way to the newly installed EHF Cup Finals in Nantes.
In the opening part of stars interview series "On the road to Nantes" right before the start of the Group Phase on Saturday, the centre back talks about his ambitions, his opponents and the new playing system.
eurohandball.com: Have you ever been to Nantes?
Michael Haaß: No, unfortunately not by now.
eurohandball.com: The EHF Cup Finals of the newly structured EHF Cup will be played there as you know. Is Nantes as final destination your major goal after winning the title of the “old” EHF Cup twice in a row?
Michael Haaß: Definitely! We are the defending champions of the old format and we want to be part of the first ever final event of course.
eurohandball.com: What is your opinion about the new playing system including the Group Phase, which starts this weekend?
Michael Haaß: The new playing system is very interesting, as in contrast to former competitions a good result in the first leg does not guarantee you anything. If we like the modus, we will know only later.
eurohandball.com: How do you rate your Group Phase opponents Koper, Eskilstuna and La Rioja?
Michael Haaß: All teams have proved that you should count on them as real contenders. But when you are the defending trophy holders, you are always the hunted.
eurohandball.com: Is it easier or harder to defend the title in the new playing system?
Michael Haaß: The new EHF Cup has become a real high level event due to those changes. It has become tougher to defend the title, but not because of the playing system, but because of the stronger opponents.
eurohandball.com: Has the new EHF Cup become more attractive?
Michael Haaß: Every match is highly important, as it is for points, not only proceeding. And as the EHF Cup finishes with a final tournament the attraction for fans will rise definitely.
eurohandball.com: German teams had won the EHF Cup trophy most of the time in the previous years. Are those three current German participants again the big favourites?
Michael Haaß: They belong to the group of teams, which can win the title, but there are much more clubs which are entitled to hope for the trophy.
eurohandball.com: You just played the world championship with the German team in Spain, finishing on fifth position. Is it hard to switch from national team to club team?
Michael Haaß: No, as the national team and the club team are completely different matters with different challenges. It is really fun to be back on club side.
eurohandball.com: After a severe ankle injury occurred at the EHF EURO 2012 you had to recover several months until the start of this season. Are you already at your personal 100 per cent or will this take some more time?
Michael Haaß: Currently I am not at 100 per cent, but the time will come, when I will be on this level. But firstly now the time has come on international floor to win the decisive matches, so I have to grit on my teeth to be successful.
Photo: Courtesy of Frisch Auf Göppingen
Follow the results of the Men´s EHF Cup Group Phase here
Read the second part of the series here
TEXT: Björn Pazen / br