After worlds, Rød will chase FINAL4 dream with Flensburg
Right now, Magnus Abelvik Rød is busy playing the World Championship with Norway, one of the favourites of the competition in Denmark and Germany.
In the World Championship games for his country, the 21-year-old right back is gathering even more international experience. It will come in useful to him as well as to his club, SG Flensburg-Handewitt, when the VELUX EHF Champions League Group Phase resumes in early February.
“Playing the Champions League has meant a lot to me, just like playing here at the World Championship also gives me plenty of valuable experience,” says Rød, who joined Flensburg in the summer of 2017 from Oslo-based club Bækkelaget SK.
A remarkable discrepancy
While he won the German championship in his first season in Flensburg, Rød has developed into one of the youngest defence specialists in international top handball. But he definitely also has ambitions in attack.
“I can also contribute in the attack, and I know that club wants me to do so in the future,” he says. “Especially in our Champions League games in autumn, I got more and more court time in the attack, too. That was great, and I can already feel that this has developed my game even further. The long-term plan is for me to slowly take over from our veteran Holger Glandorf, and we are already seeing the contours of that.”
Playing in the Champions League has been a great learning process to Rød, measuring himself with some of the best players in the world. However, there is a remarkable discrepancy between Flensburg’s performances in the Bundesliga and their achievements in the Champions League so far.
While Flensburg are leading the German league with the maximum amount of points, they only gathered 10 points from as many games in Champions League Group B, after unexpected defeats against teams like HC PDD Zagreb – even at home – and RK Celje Pivovarna Lasko.
Being eight points behind group leaders Paris Saint-Germain HB and five behind second-place MOL-Pick Szeged, the group win is out of reach for the Northern-German team, and Rød regrets that.
“Of course, we want to win each and every match we play, but when you are doing as well in the Bundesliga as we have been doing this season, you easily tend to invest more power in that competition,” he says.
“The Bundesliga is very demanding, physically as well as mentally, so our performances in the Champions League may have suffered a bit from that,” he adds. “If, for instance, we have a tough away game in the Bundesliga against Melsungen on a Thursday night and a Champions League match the following Saturday, it can be hard to maintain power.”
"It will be a challenge, not least physically"
It will be better once both competitions resume after the World Championship however, Rød expects.
“Of course, it will still be a challenge, not least physically, to play in both competitions, but we seem to have a slightly easier schedule in the rest of our group phase campaign than we had in the autumn, and I hope we can benefit from that,” the Norwegian says.
Flensburg still need a few points to be sure of reaching the Last 16, while a better position in the group will give them a lower-ranked opponent.
“Therefore, it is very important that we perform on a stable level from now on along with keeping our focus on the Bundesliga as well,” said Rød, adding his personal ambitions will spur him as well.
“Playing the (VELUX EHF) FINAL4 in Cologne is one of my biggest dreams as a handball player, so I will really do all I can to achieve that – in our defence as well as in our attack.”
TEXT: Peter Bruun / ew