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02.02.2019, 15:30
Foxes determined to overcome tough route to final
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MEN'S EHF CUP GROUP PHASE COUNTDOWN #11: Defending champions count on a newly-crowned world champion and the team’s experience of going all the way
 

Foxes determined to overcome tough route to final

In the past four seasons, they were finalists three times and raised the trophy in 2015 on home ground and 2018 in Magdeburg - now Füchse Berlin are out to go all the way to the EHF Cup Finals once again this season.

There may have been a number of chances since last season, with the departures of German international Steffen Fäth and goalkeeper legend Petr Stochl and a long injury list, but hopes are high at Berlin.

The opening match of the group phase will be a case of deja-vu for the Foxes as they face Saint-Raphael Var Handball in a repeat of last season’s final. Both clubs have locked horns six times in the past two seasons, each in the group phase, then at the EHF Cup Finals, once in the semi-finals, once in the final.

Long road to Kiel

“Again, we have not been lucky with the draw. La Rioja and Saint-Raphael Var are maybe the toughest possible opponents,” says coach Velimir Petkovic, adding: “But we feel confident and will give anything to reach the quarter-finals and the finals in Kiel.”

Berlin welcome back new team captain Hans Lindberg, the two-time top scorer of the competition and newly crowned world champion with Denmark, and their German back court stars Fabian Wiede (WCh 2019 All Star Team player) and Paul Drux.

In contrast, Croatian defence specialist Marko Kopljar and German talent Simon Ernst are ruled out with long-term injuries and the short-term contract of Tunisian Wael Jallouz has ended.

Their qualification victory against former Danish champions Aalborg was far from easy, but on home court, Berlin turned things around and qualified, like in the 2017/18 quarter-finals when came from eight behind to beat Nexe.

“The two matches against Aalborg were very tough. But now we have six games ahead of us to reach the next round. The international matches are very good for our young players to make the next step in their development,” says Petkovic, who has previously steered Göppingen and Berlin to EHF Cup glory and believes the 2019 champions will again come from Germany.

“The Bundesliga teams are always favourites, but this time THW Kiel stand out. However, we have a good team too and want to give our best to defend our title.”

Füchse Berlin

Qualification for the EHF Cup Group Phase 2018/19: Round 3: 57:54 aggregate win against Aalborg Handbold (DEN)

Newcomers:  Jacob Tandrup Holm (Ribe-Esbjerg HH), Simon Ernst (VfL Gummersbach), Mijajlo Marsenic (RK Vardar), Malte Semisch (TSV Hannover-Burgdorf)

Left the club:  Steffen Fäth (Rhein-Neckar Löwen), Drago Vuković (VfL Gummersbach), Petr Stochl (retired), Ignacio Plaza Jiménez (SC Magdeburg)

Coach: Velimir Petkovic (since December 2016)

Team captain:  Hans Lindberg

Opponents in the group phase: Saint-Raphael Var Handball (FRA), BM Logrono La Rioja (ESP), Balatonfüredi KSE (HUN) in Group A

EHF Champions League records:
VELUX EHF FINAL4 (1): 2011/12 (fourth)
Last 16 (1): 2012/13

Other European Cup records:

EHF Cup:
Winners (2): 2014/15, 2017/18
Finalists (1): 2016/17
Finals (1): 2013/14 (third)

German champions: -
German cup winners: 2014


TEXT: Björn Pazen / cor
 
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