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EHF Champions League

Sole in search of gold with Spain

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Back in December, Paris Saint-Germain Handball suffered another blow in the VELUX EHF FINAL4, finishing third in the European top competition for the third time in five years, after a grueling defeat against Barça in the semi-finals, 37:32.

It was a special game for the two Spanish players in PSG’s roster, right wing Ferran Sole and defensive specialist Viran Morros, who faced three of their teammates from the Spanish national team, Gonzalo Perez de Vargas, Raul Entrerrios and Aitor Arino.

Just a few days later, the five joined the national team to prepare for the IHF Men’s World Championship in Egypt, where reigning EHF EURO champions Spain have progressed to the quarter-finals.

Spain are one of the four teams to maintain their unbeaten status, alongside Denmark, France and Sweden and have the experience needed to compete for the gold, on their hunt to become the first team after France to hold both the world and the European titles.

“Yes, losing against Barça was a disappointment, but I managed to get over it and this is another task, there are two different things: playing for the club and for the national team. Playing for Spain is special in every game and I really got to Egypt with the mindset that we can have a good tournament,” said Sole, who scored five times for PSG in the VELUX EHF FINAL 4.

Clash of the stars in the quarter-final

At EHF EURO 2020, Spain did not lose a game, drawing only once, 22:22, in the main round against Croatia. One year later, at Egypt 2021, the Spanish side drew their first game against Brazil, 29:29, but went on a five-game winning streak to win main round group I and set up a crucial clash against Norway in the quarter-finals.

“Norway are a very good team. We know we can beat them but they have some superb players, who play for some of the best teams in the world. But so do we, so it is going to be an exciting game,” added Sole.

PSG will surely be excited about their right wing’s input in the World Championship as Sole has been Spain’s second-best scorer in the competition, with 27 goals, only one fewer than Kielce left wing Angel Fernandez Perez.

The All-star right wing in the World Championship two years ago, Sole has always been an underrated player, starting at Spanish club Granollers, before making the switch to French outfit Toulouse in 2016.

PSG snatched him last season and Sole has shared the right wing position with French ace Benoit Kounkoud for the past year.

But the Spanish player remains humble and upbeat, crediting the team for his good performance at Egypt 2021.

“We scored many goals but it is basically the hard work of the defence and our goalkeepers, which set us up with plenty of fast breaks, which we only had to convert,” adds Sole.

With the gold medal in sight, Spain remain one of the hot favourites in the competition, a win against Norway setting them up for a crunch game against Denmark or Egypt in the semi-finals.

For Sole, it is just business as usual. Asked if a successful campaign with Spain at the World Championship would buoy his form at club level, he admitted it would be a nice scenario.

“Like I said, these are two separate conversations. But, of course, I would have another motivation, I would be ecstatic. Winning the World Championship is difficult as is winning the EHF Champions League. The level is so great in these competitions,” concludes the Spanish right wing.

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