Handball Champions League – Sabate: there is no stress, there is pressure…

“There is no stress because we are not the favourites. Magdeburg, the German champions, are under pressure. We are only second to Poland, but it is sport and anything can happen”, said Orlen Wisła coach Xavi Sabate ahead of the Handball Champions League quarter-finals.

In July 2022, Orlen Wisła received a wild card to perform in the Champions League. The team’s goal was to break out of the group and advance to the playoffs. It seemed unlikely, but it is. In the home stretch, the “oilers” beat SC Magdeburg at the Orlen Arena and in the final round FC Porto overcame the three-point loss to PPD Zagreb and climbed to the sixth place in the standings at the end of the group stage.

In 1/8 of the games, they led HBC Nantes, horrifying their fans in the away game. Płock’s team eliminated the French team after a series of penalty shootouts and reached the quarter-finals. The next two matches, on 10 and 17 May, separated the Sabate players from the Final Four of the Champions League.

On Sunday, May 7, immediately after the penultimate match of the domestic competition, in which Płock players beat Ostrovia Ostrów Wielkopolski 32:26, ​​preparations for the first quarter-final match against SC Magdeburg have started.

“There’s no stress because we’re not favourites. It’s as clear as the sun. Magdeburg are under pressure, a great team who came second in our group. He’s the German champions and we are the vice-champion of Poland, our chances are slim, but anything can happen in sport,” said the Sabate coach.

And he added that Orlen Wisła, who had not even dreamed of such success before, had reached this level. “We are very happy to have come this far and now we are going to play against the best German team from the previous season, we are fighting for the Final Four of the Champions League. I don’t have to promise that we will play 100% because it’s obvious. We are aware that they are a great team with great players in the squad, but we are not going to give up. Hardly anyone gave us a chance before the 1 game /8 finals with HBC Nantes, and yet we managed to eliminate a more successful rival.We will try to repeat this result.

This year, Wisła have already beaten SC Magdeburg in the Champions League group stage. The 25:24 win at the Orlen Arena on 9 February paved the way for Płock’s side to break out of the group. The 28:27 victory over FC Porto in the final away round of the group stage made the dreams of the club, the players, the coaches and all the fans come true.

The team’s Płock supporters believe in the elimination of the German team. On May 17, more than 600 fans will come to Magdeburg, who will strongly support the team.

Coach Sabate tries to calm the mood by pointing out that this is the team’s first season – after years of hiatus – in the Champions League.

“The top eight European teams we have entered are a huge success. But we are not going to stop there. My team are warriors, they have proven over and over how great their potential is. We have our philosophy and we will be faithful to The first match, next Wednesday, we will play calmly, and the decision will be made on May 17, ”reveals Sabate.

The first game of the Champions League quarter-finals Orlen Wisła – SC Magdeburg is scheduled for May 10. The meeting is scheduled to start at 6:45 p.m. The rematch will take place a week later at GETEC Arena. The winner of the tie will qualify for the Champions League Final Four of the 2022/23 season. (PORRIDGE)

Author: Jolanta Marciniak


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