Tuesday, May 24

“The ‘final four’ will be a question of success”

  • “Cologne is not easy territory for us, it is always playing away from home. Despite this, we would prefer there to be people”

  • With the loss of Mortensen and Palmarsson Between cotton wool, Barça will look for its ticket to the final on Monday against a PSG without Karabatic

After 10 years on the Barça handball bench, Xavi Pascual will try to conquer the tenth Champions League in the ‘final four’, which is held this Monday and Tuesday in the Cologne classic, although without the hostile atmosphere that made the Catalans feel that they played year after year in the opposite field. With the drop of Mortensen and a Palmarsson between cottons, his team will play a place in the final against a PSG that will not be able to count on the ex-azulgrana Karabatic.

How do they get to the Cologne appointment?

As every year that we have been able to arrive, we have prepared the team well. We are really looking forward to a competition like this that we have been waiting for since last summer. Motivated to get there and do their best.

In this rare year, have there been times when you thought it wouldn’t be played?

Yes Yes. the pandemic situation that exists means that anything can happen. It seems that now it would be difficult to suspend it. We have prepared the team to have this possibility on the field of having the ‘final four’. Let’s wait to see how it develops, but even so we know that it will be a very strange ‘final four’: without an audience, with the situation that is being experienced in Germany to be able to go there, how they will distribute us, to see how we adapt to the situation .

There was the feeling that it was always in the opposite field. Can the absence of an audience change things?

Cologne is not easy territory for us, it is always playing away from home, no matter the opponent. Despite this, we would prefer that there were people because we have had a strange season playing without an audience. For the four teams it will be a bit strange, without the presentations of the level of other years, of the party that was for handball. We are a bit on the lookout for what is in the environment but focused on what we have to do on the track.

Cologne is not easy territory for us, it is always playing away from home. Despite this, we would prefer that there were people

Xavi Pascual

A game lost in Asobal in seven and a half years. Is the lack of competitiveness a drag?

If you have very weak rivals they tell you that you arrive very rested to play the important games. If they are very strong, you arrive tired. We cannot choose the rivals. And therefore what we have to do is adapt. There are things that it is clear that we would all like to be much better. But the other rivals arrive in a similar situation: Paris has also not lost in their League for a long time, Veszprem, although they have Szeged, they beat them by 12 the other day and in their League it is a matter of two teams … we have to be used to any situation. We don’t want to look for excuses. If you are more competitive, you also run a greater risk of injury.

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The feelings in the Champions League this season have been very good. What does your nose tell you?

I think the team arrives well, although it also arrived well the last time and in 15 minutes we ruined everything. But in this type of competition there are things that you do not control that are not in your hands. The important thing is that the team goes through the process to reach the ‘final four’ in good condition and try to have everyone. We already know that with Casper (Mortensen) we will not be able to and we have the important doubt of Aron (Palmarsson), who is a very important player for us and we will see what happens.

What could be the key to winning the Champions League again five years later?

Every year is different, rivals are different, every year is strange. In a weekend you play the whole season. You can be very well all year round but 50,000 things can happen on that weekend: it has happened to us that we have arrived very well but there have been people that we have not been able to use for one reason or another. We do not count them before so as not to give an advantage or later. We have come to Cologne many times, where it is very difficult for us to play there. Regardless of how complicated it is, we have to try to win, do things better than last year and not have the disconnection we had last year. The key to the ‘final four’ will be a question of success.

You have been leading the team for 10 years. What assessment do you make on a personal and club level?

I don’t like to make evaluations. In the club where we are, people are often valued for things that you have stopped winning. and I think it is a mistake. the people who are in the club try to give everything. We can be more or less right but I am satisfied with the work that has been done in this team in these years. What makes me proud is that my team plays handball very well, I really like it. I suffer it because coaches are sufferers. You can do your job very well but then it depends on a situation that is not in your hands, it is in the hands of the players, the referee or the other. The important thing is that the team is aware of how they play, what they want to do and reflect what they train. From here the results what they do is confirm it or not. But you have to be satisfied with the process. In these years we have changed a lot from how we played at the beginning to how we play now. We have renewed the team. Regardless of the model, I think there are a number of characteristics recognizable from the outset, that the team always leaves its life, it does not matter against who, where and how. And that’s what I’m most proud of. Many players have passed through Barça these years and any of them have left their lives for the team.

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On a personal level, how have you changed as a coach? In 2011 he had a heart operation. How did your perspective on life change?

I keep being an ordinary person who has the problems that everyone else has. and the life experiences you have make you change your perspective of seeing things. And I think that is essential for anyone. And as a coach, obviously the experience I have now was not when I started or in these years. I have learned a lot. They say that when you win, you win, and when you lose, you learn. I believe that you always learn, winning and losing. And that in so long in the club there are better and worse moments. But the most important thing is to give everything for the team and for the team to play happily.

Contract ends next year. Would you like to continue 10 more years?

We’ll see. Ten more years seems exaggerated to me. And right now it is not a question of saying if I would like to continue or not and more in the situation in which we are at the club. The important thing for the club is that right now the professional teams give the maximum number of titles possible, as we always do. Let the partners decide, because I am also a partner, who we want as president. And from here on, let the people who enter work in a line, expose what they want to do, because the social mass of the club will have chosen them for something.

As a partner, what would you ask the next president?

I believe that each president will have his idea of ​​what to do. What all the Catalans want the most is to push forward, for the club to move forward and reinforced by all this. And that they work for the good of the club. I don’t think there are any of the candidates that are presented who want to do bad things for the club, on the contrary. People come forward to provide solutions to what they believe to be problems. Each one will do it in their own way. Maximum respect to all who present themselves, because it means that the club wants

One of the candidates proposes that handball Barça play the French or German league. How would you like it?

I do not want to comment on what the candidates think. Everyone has their opinion. If the circumstance arises, the time comes and they ask me what is my opinion I will give it to them. But right now any opinion from within can only bog down the issue. And now the only thing I have in mind is the final four in Cologne.

Do you and this team deserve to remove your thorn from the Champions League?

As we sell it, yes, of course. I would like to win the Champions League every year. But rivals too and sometimes we forget. If we asked PSG or Veszprem, they would also say yes, and I no longer say Kiel, who returned to the Champions League after not having played it. Veszprem and PSG who have never won it and we who have won it nine times. Who deserves it more? Surely everyone thinks they deserve it. We have to take our game to the field and try to be right.

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Tenth Champions in tenth year would be round, right?

If we win it, we will go for the next one again. And if we lose it too. We always go for whatever there is. This team has risen many times. There will be another ‘final four’ and continue. We are the only club that when the season begins it seems that we have all the titles and we are waiting to see how many we lose. And that is a brutal pressure for the team. But we know which club we are in. But this year we have started the year and people, instead of asking for a Champions League, were already asking for two. It’s scary. We would like to win them all but possibly PSG, Veszprem or all of them too. We have to be aware of the level of complication.


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