20240127 Media Calls

Flash quotes: final weekend media calls, 27 January

EHF / Kevin Domas & Courtney Gahan

COLOGNE - Comments from Sweden head coach Glenn Solberg (NOR), right back Albin Lagergren (SWE) and right wing Daniel Pettersson (SWE), Germany head coach Alfred Gislason (ISL), left wing Lukas Mertens (GER) and goalkeeper Andreas Wolff (GER); France head coach Guillaume Gille (FRA), right back Nedim Remili (FRA) and left back Nikola Karabatic (FRA); and Denmark head coach Nikolaj Jacobsen (DEN), goalkeeper Niklas Landin (DEN), left back Mikkel Hansen (DEN) and right back Mathias Gidsel (DEN) at media calls at the LANXESS arena on Saturday.


Glenn Solberg (NOR) - head coach

On Friday's semi-final:
"The night has been really, really tough. But there is a goal for us tomorrow, and that is the direct Olympic qualification, and we want to achieve it. We will give everything on the court, but at the moment, heads hurt a little bit. We will think about something for a small while, sleep a bit and then get back to handball this afternoon. But right now, we are very disappointed, as you can imagine."

On the bronze medal against Germany:
"It's really important for us to finish the tournament with something in our hands instead of finishing fourth. As a reward to ourselves, as well as the idea of going back home after a win as well. There are many reasons for us to fight for the win tomorrow."

On the atmosphere in the arenas during the championship:
"It's been fantastic, everywhere we played the arenas is full and it's amazing, really. We've seen lots of smiling faces during the tournament and it's great. We are really looking forward to one last experience tomorrow in here."

Albin Lagergren (SWE) - right back

On the semi-final against France:
"I didn't watch the game again, and I don't want to. It's really hard to swallow such a defeat, to be honest. We have a bitter taste in our mouths right now."

On the bronze medal game against Germany:
"It's going to be special for me, of course, with me playing for a while in Germany. They have played really well since the beginning of the tournament, this game will be one last fight for the medal."

On bouncing back after the defeat in the semi-final:
"We need to find the energy to do it, but it's not as easy done as said. I hope we will manage to do it, it's important to finish the competition on a high. But at the moment, heads are hurting. Hopefully, we will be able to put the disappointment aside to win the game tomorrow."

Daniel Pettersson (SWE) - right wing

On the night after the semi-final:
"It's been hard to sleep, the night has been short and we struggled to find any sleep. It's been really hard, to be honest, losing that way. But what is done is done and we will try to move on."

On the importance of the bronze medal game:
"We have played very well during the tournament, even yesterday in the second half and we feel like we have to play again like that tomorrow. We have to prove we deserve a medal at the EURO."


Alfred Gislason (ISL) – head coach, Germany

On the semi-final performance and what it shows about the level of the team:
“I’m very proud of my team yesterday. We had a fantastic first half, and a good second half, but not great. The Danish team is the best in the world. So we had to play twice the same quality of the first and second half to have a position to win.

“We were almost there, but not quite. We have an extremely young team. Not the experience in the team like Denmark or Sweden or France. But I think my team has learned a lot in this tournament, so it’s a very, very important game yesterday also for us.”

On the expectations against Sweden:
“It’s a little different from Denmark, but for quality almost the same. They have a very physical, good defence. Good goalkeeping. Good counter attacks and really good attack also. They have a lot of experience in the team. So it will be the same problem like yesterday. We have to have a fantastic defence, 60 minutes, and great goalkeeping to have a chance.”

Lukas Mertens (GER) – left wing

On how he feels on Saturday morning:
“I slept six hours, maybe. It was hard. We’re a little bit angry about this result, but we had a great fight. But now we are focused on tomorrow because they’re big points for us: the direct ticket to the Olympics and the bronze medal. It’s a great chance, a great situation for us. Today we’re a little bit angry, a little bit sad, but onto the video now. The next hours we focus on Sweden.”

On Sweden:
“Great team. Great players. More players from SC Magdeburg – my team. Really, really good defence player, Oscar Bergendahl, and offence players – Felix Claar, Jim Gottfridsson. A good goalkeeper. A great team, a world-class team, but we are fighting against Sweden like the same we did against Denmark yesterday. And hopefully we will win.”

On it being the last match of the home EURO and that experience:
“It’s been really amazing. It’s my dream since I was a kid, to play here for 20,000 spectators. It’s unbelievable. I can realise maybe after the tournament, but now we are on the focus. After the tournament, I can realise what we have done. We are in the semi-finals. That’s a great achievement. Hopefully, we can win tomorrow, then the achievement was bigger.”

Andreas Wolff (GER) – goalkeeper

On the chance to win bronze and secure the Olympic ticket:
“It would mean a lot to us to win a medal again after several years without one of those things. And for me, the Olympic direct qualification is, of course, a really important thing and it’s a good goal to achieve. But tomorrow for me, it’s 100 per cent just a by-product.

“I want to win this medal because I think it would be something that we deserved throughout the tournament, that we showed that we were a great host. And we could crown a little bit ourselves, being the best of the rest next to the two superior teams of Denmark and France.”

On it being the last match of the home EURO in LANXESS arena:
“These were not my first games in this arena. Hopefully not the last. But like always, it has been an exceptional experience. The fans were pushing us throughout the whole tournament and their work, their support led us to the semi-finals and hopefully to another medal.”

On Sweden:
“They have a strong team. They have really strong defence. They have a goalkeeper in [Andreas] Palicka who saved them several times in crucial moments in the last few years. And it’s going to be really important for us to stay focused and show a similar character as yesterday.”


Guillaume Gille (FRA) - head coach

On coming down from the emotions of the semi-final:
"It's easy, we have a final to play tomorrow and we do not have time to look in the past. In less than 36 hours, we will be battling for a title. Of course, we have crazy emotions, it's been hard to find sleep after such a game, but this is high-level, the most important game is the next one."

On Denmark:
"They are a really good team, with a very strong pair of goalkeepers and an amazing offensive firepower. They have Mathias Gidsel, Mikkel Hansen and Simon Pytlick and also Rasmus Lauge Schmidt, who came out of nowhere to score 10 in the [World Championship] final last year against us. They are able to play in a lot of different ways offensively. Just to think that such a player like Mikkel Hansen is basically just passing the balls to the others. But we have the capacity to beat them."

On how to handle a final:
"We have played a lot of finals so this is not uncharted territory for us. But of course, it's never easy to play a final. This is where we wanted to be three weeks ago when we started the EURO, we are now just a couple of hours from a possible title, this is enough motivation, I think."

Nedim Remili (FRA) - right back

On the emotions after the semi-final:
"I woke up this morning and Dylan Nahi, who is my roommate, told me: Did we just dream? It still has that kind of feeling, and we have not come down from it yet.

“But we have to, because we will not win the final tomorrow with the emotions from yesterday. We will win the final tomorrow if we manage to bounce back."

On the 2023 World Championship final against Denmark:
"It is still in our heads, because a lost final hurts, but I guess they were the better team that day. This year is a completely different story. We have to keep in mind last year's final but not overthink it. I think we learnt from it, we also are a better team than last year and we also have the momentum on our side."

On not having lost a single game in the EURO:
"That shows the level at which we are playing since the start of the tournament. Especially since we played against some of the best teams in the world. But we fought, we showed an amazing mindset, we never lost confidence and here we are, now battling for a gold medal."

Nikola Karabatic (FRA) - left back

On Sunday's game being his last EURO final:
"I honestly could not care less. That's something for the medias and the journalists but for me, this is just a big game with a title at stake. And I know that, since I only have a handful of games to play, I want to win it. But I'm not thinking about the emotions too much at the moment."

On the rivalry between France and Denmark:
"There is a rivalry with every team, I guess, you told me there was one with Sweden two days ago, now with Denmark. All I can say is that France belong to the top-level teams and I am very happy about that. It is not nothing to find yourself every year in the final, to me it means we have been doing an amazing job, and that on the long term, which is even harder."

On France having never lost an EHF EURO final:
"The last one was 10 years ago, so it was quite a while ago. I remembered we entered the court and just before that, we told ourselves we wanted to crash the party in Herning. Now is a little bit the same, we are underdogs if you look at the last confrontations between France and Denmark, but it suits us well."


Nikolaj Jacobsen (DEN) – head coach

On the semi-final and what it shows about Denmark’s level on the final weekend:
“It was a very tough match, physical. One of the toughest we ever played, I think. Germany really went hard on us. Our experience that we have been in the last, seven from eight tournaments, in the semi-finals, I think that experience helped us yesterday to get the win.”

On France:
“We have met a lot. I’m expecting a great game. It will be a different game than yesterday. I think crucial for us will be if we can manage the big power and physicality that they bring, especially in attack, with the fast breaks and fast playing with some good shooting also. So it’s how we manage to play in defence, then we know we have two of the best goalkeepers in the world so if we can give them good conditions, we will have a good chance.

“But it’s like always when you play against France. It’s the small things. It was that in the Olympic final, where France beat us with two, and it was also close in the last world cup final last year so I’m sure it will be close tomorrow also.”

Niklas Landin (DEN) – goalkeeper

On being back in Germany at the EURO:
“It’s really a nice feeling here in Germany. It’s maybe one of the biggest European championships I have seen. We are really looking for this. It was an amazing atmosphere here in Cologne.”

On France:
“I don’t know what I’m expecting. France are maybe the best team in this European championship. They have played a lot of finals, and they know what it is to be on the big stage and to deliver in these finals.”

On the chance to win the European title after 12 years:
“It means a lot. I’ve won it one time before but it’s a long time ago and now it’s a new team that's standing together, so it would be a really good finish from me to win this European championship.”

Mikkel Hansen (DEN) — left back

On how special matches like the semi-final in Cologne are now compared to 10 years ago:
“I’ve always appreciated being this lucky to play around arenas like this and finals and stuff. And I think every final has its own life, or semi-final or whatever. But of course, if you don’t appreciate playing in front of 20,000 German fans in Germany against Germany, then you’re not going to enjoy anything.

“For a lot of us yesterday, it was an amazing experience, even better when you win, of course. Being able to play in front of all these amazing fans was really an experience for a lifetime.”

On the key to beating France:
"Both teams have more or less the same kind of way to success. A great defence, a lot of fast breaks and very good offence, so I think the team who makes the less mistakes tomorrow will win the game.”

On being back in the EURO final after 10 years and the last win 12 years ago:
“It’s 12 years since we won, so of course it means a lot for all of us that this time we managed to go to the final in the EURO. We’ve had some trouble in going all the way the last couple of years.

“For all of us it’s a great feeling and especially playing against Germany in Germany and winning. This is, of course, also a great thing, especially for all of our guys playing in Germany.”

 Mathias Gidsel (DEN) – right back

On it being his first EURO final:
“It’s been quite some years since we’ve been in a European final. Obviously, we are really looking forward. I also personally am looking forward to be here. It couldn’t be a better arena to play a final in.

“What a tournament this tournament in Germany has been. Now we’re looking forward to hopefully finish it in in the final against France and to become European champions.”

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