During the last few days there has been a lot said and written about the possible tactical variations that Kielce coach Talant Dujshebaev might have prepared to surprise FC Barcelona in the first semi-final of the Final Four. When asked, the former Ciudad Real and Atlético Madrid smiles before adding: “It’s difficult to prepare surprises if until Thursday we have fighting in the League play offs. We started to prepare for this game on Saturday. What we will try to do is cover our weak points and highlight our strong ones.” He is not giving any more clues than that.
Beyond talking about favourites, Dujshebaev is clear that his side is ready to compete and to win: “We are prepared to battle and put up a fight. I foresee a tight game. We will have to have an excellent day to win.”
The coach was not yet at Kielce when they faced Barça in the 2013 semi-final but he was on the opposing side when in 2011 the blaugranes faced Ciudad Real in the final of the Champions League. That was the last time that FC Barcelona lifted the prestigious trophy. “In 2011 we were in good form. I think we played really well but that day Saric stopped everything and all our efforts were for nothing,” he admitted.
One of the key figures for Kielce is Julen Aguinagalde, a player who has spent five and a half years of the last six with coach Dujshebaev. “You need time to adapt to Dujshebaev’s teams. Last season perhaps not so much but now we are clear how to carry out what he wants,” added the pivot.
For Aguinagalde the fact that FC Barcelona are many people’s favourite does not mean anything: “We know that Barça are more than prepared. They lost against Flensburg a year ago and now they are taking nothing for granted. At this stage everybody has a chance of winning the title.”
Uros Zorma, another former Ciudad Real player who is now at Kielce, summed up how he is feeling: “Due to their history, Barça could be favourites, but they have to show that on the court.” Kielce, there can be no doubt, believes in themselves and their chances of winning on Saturday.