Nikola Karabatic answering questions at the Palau / VÍCTOR SALGADO-FCB

The Palau Blaugrana experienced a rather unusual Monday when following the usual training session, the Open Media Day prior to the upcoming Final Four in Cologne took place. Ahead of the blaugranes semi-final date with Polish side Kielce, journalists and photographers from the sporting press came to the Club to find out first hand just how the players were feeling five days ahead of the beginning of the final stage of this season’s handball Champions League in Germany.

One of the main focuses of attention for the press was the figure of Nikola Krabatic. “We have trained the whole year thinking about the Final Four. We want to win,” explained the FC Barcelona player. The Frenchman also admitted that the team had learned from the errors committed last season at the same stage of the competition against Flensburg.

His team mate Cedric Sorhaindo echoed the words of his fellow Frenchman: “Now we have experience. We have learned from our disappointments and that has made the team grow. Everything cannot always turn out well but we have more team spirit, we are more together and that always paints a good picture.”

Pressure from the format

Jesper Noddesbo touched on the pressure a format like that of the Final Four brings with it: “You play for everything in the space of 48 hours. That pressure is something that becomes difficult to control.” On that subject he added: “This year there is no dark horse like Flensburg last season. This year all the teams have that pressure to win.”

In his press conference, FC Barcelona handball coach Xavi Pascual also touched on the subject of having lost at the same stage of the competition last season: “We have to think that we are amongst the best four teams in Europe. If we think that we can’t lose then we don’t know where we are.”

Pascual also revealed that the wait for the Final Four in Cologne “has gone on forever.” The Barça coach added: “Coaches always want to go into the game in the best form but I think we are in form coming into it. It has been a long wait with more than a month since the quarter-finals and the international matches in the middle.”

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