|23.02.2017, 08:00||◄ last page|
INTERVIEW: Barcelona’s team captain on the newly-built squad, their success so far and the eight-time champions’ hopes to make it to Cologne again.
Victor Tomas: Heart beats for the Patriots, focus on Cologne
Victor Tomas is not only the team captain of FC Barcelona Lassa, but the ‘last man standing’ from the squad that claimed the EHF Champions League trophy for the Catalans in 2005. Since then, Tomas has raised the trophy two more times, in 2011 and 2015 – and hopes to make it to the VELUX EHF FINAL4 again in 2017, which would be the sixth time in his career.
In this interview with ehfCL.com, the 32-year-old right wing for the record Champions League champions talks about their chances of finishing on top of the group, bringing fresh blood into the team, and his love for American Football, including the New England Patriots’ sensational Super Bowl win.
ehfCL.com: After 11 rounds, FC Barcelona Lassa are the best of all VELUX EHF Champions League participants with 10 victories and only one defeat. Did you expect a result like this at the start of the season?
Victor Tomas: We had expected to have some points in our account and, due to the self-image of FC Barcelona, to have some wins, mainly in our Palau Blaugrana. But we could not predict such great away results, like our wins at Flensburg, Plock or Veszprem, to be on of top of this tough group now.
ehfCL.com: Will you manage to keep this position until the end of the group phase?
Victor Tomas: We will try, we will fight for it but in sport you never know.
ehfCL.com: Last season, Barcelona finished on top of their group, then skipped the Last 16, but failed on the way to Cologne in the quarter-finals against Kiel. Would it be a bad omen to finish on top again?
Victor Tomas: No, I never look upon the past, only on the present and the future. And to skip the Last 16 would be anything than a bad omen. In this stage of the season, two more free weekends are a great help for all players to recover and get fit for the tough tasks to come.
Talking about last year: Against a club like THW Kiel you can always lose, but we don’t think about it anymore.
ehfCL.com: Before you face Kiel in the penultimate round of the current group phase, the next challenge is Flensburg next Sunday in Palau Blaugrana…
Victor Tomas: This match will definitely be anything but easy. We will have to count on the noisy support of our fans in Palau to beat them.
ehfCL.com: Regardless of the final position after the group phase, is Cologne the dream destination for you and Barcelona again?
Victor Tomas: Of course, the FINAL4 is always our final goal. To make it there and to experience this great atmosphere is the biggest reward of a season. And when you are there, you want to win it – but in case we proceed to Cologne this season, we are not the favourites. We are the underdogs when you look upon the potential opponents.
ehfCL.com: At the start of this season, some new, young players such as Lasse Andersson, Timothey N’guessan and Dika Mem needed to become attuned in the squad. Are you satisfied with the way they settled?
Victor Tomas: If you are good players – like all of them are – it is quite easy to fit into a new team. And of course, it is always a question of hard work in training. All those new arrivals already help us a lot.
ehfCL.com: When the season reaches its crucial part, it is always the same question to FC Barcelona players and coaches: Do you think it is an advantage or a disadvantage that your team is not as challenged in the domestic league as, for example, French or German sides?
Victor Tomas: And it is always my same answer: If we win the VELUX EHF Champions League in Cologne, it was an advantage. If we fail, it was bad. It is very easy: We have to cope with the situation as it is, but the performing level of Asobal clubs such as La Rioja and Granollers has clearly improved. In general, the league is stronger, it goes in the right direction.
ehfCL.com: Beyond handball, you are a great fan of American Football. What’s your opinion on this crazy 2017 edition of the Super Bowl, the first one ever to be decided in extra time?
Victor Tomas: I am a fan of the New England Patriots so I was suffering a lot in the first half. In the end, it was a historical game with one of the greatest ever comebacks in the history of sports.
ehfCL.com: In terms of football, FCB need a similar comeback against Paris Saint-Germain after the 4:0 defeat in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League Last 16. Will the handball team finally have to take revenge for the football squad?
Victor Tomas: Even despite this clear result, you should never write off Barcelona. There is still a second leg to be played. PSG have the better chances now in football, but we do not know if we get the chance to take potential revenge in handball….
TEXT: Bjorn Pazen / cg