Ana Gros: "To beat Györ would be something incredible."
At only 26, Metz right back Ana Gros already feels like a Women's EHF Champions League veteran, playing her eighth season in the competition. After appearing in the final in 2012 with Györ, this weekend she will face her former team in the quarter-final, with a spot in the TIPPMIX EHF FINAL4 at stake.
ehfCL.com: Is the presence of Metz in the quarter-finals somehow logical?
Ana Gros: I don't think it is, there's no such thing as logic in handball. Our team has been together, more or less, for two years now and I think we've gradually been playing better. You never know what can happen, but we have the feeling that we find ourselves more easily now on the court. This season, we showed that we were able to beat anyone, we won against Buducnost and now we beat HC Vardar three weeks ago. And if you achieve these performances, you can hope for a place among the best eight teams in Europe.
ehfCL.com: Was this victory against Vardar a turning point?
Ana Gros: It's not only Vardar, even though the score was impressive, but all the home games before like Buducnost and Thüringer. Winning against all these prestigious European teams, some of them you can see at the Final Four every season, was a good boost for our confidence. Foreign teams now know that playing in Metz in a tough thing.
ehfCL.com: You're now about to face Györ this weekend? Is this yet another level?
Ana Gros: I think it is, yes. But then again, we know that it's only two matches and that anything can happen. Györ are always aiming for the top spot and they are my personnal favourites to win the Champions Legaue again this season. They've got world class players in every position, they were in the final again last season and to beat them would be something incredible.
ehfCL.com: What would it take to make it possible?
Ana Gros: It may sound obvious, but we have to make a good result at home in order to believe in our chances before the return leg. A win would be a good start, but it's almost mandatory, since it's so hard to win in Györ. The good thing is that we'll have nothing to lose, the pressure will be on them and we'll have to take advantage of that.
ehfCL.com: You talked about the team being better than two years ago, does this mean you're at your personal best as well?
Ana Gros: It's always hard to pick out one individual in a team, but I think that if you look at statistics then you can say I'm having a good season. But just like the team, I guess. If we win, if we play good, then it's easier for me or for someone else to score. Metz is not about individualities, it's about team spirit, about collective strength. Someone can be in the spotlight on Wednesday then someone else steps into it on Saturday.
ehfCL.com: You played for two seasons for Györ, is this double header special for you?
Ana Gros: Of course it is, just like any time I play against my former teams. Even if almost everyone's changed since the time I played in Györ, everything remained the same. The fans are still as loud as they used to be, I witnessed that two seasons ago already! The atmosphere there is always special for the Champions League games, that's something I remember.
ehfCL.com: What are the differences between a club like Metz and one like Györ?
Ana Gros: In Györ, winning the Champions League is the main goal of the season, every season. Everything there is so professionnal and everyone is dedicated to handball. Not only in the club, but in the city as well. I think that playing at such a high level becomes a habit, and that habit is a strength. For Györ to be at the highest European level, it's almost like Barcelona or Paris Saint-Germain in men's handball, it feels natural to see them here. But I think, in Metz, we're getting closer, little by little. The fact that we are now in the quarter finals, with maybe a tiny chance to win, shows that we're working in the right direction.
Ana Gros will be the special guest in Friday's expert hangout, where she will discuss the upcoming quarter-finals with handball journalists around Europe. The hangout can be watched live below from 12:15 CET.