Hansen looking forward to a giant handball party
A couple of minutes after leading Denmark to victory against home side France (29:28) at the Golden League, thanks to a last second goal, Mikkel Hansen looks exhausted, but happy.
The right time to ask him a couple of questions about the current form of the Denmark team, but also about the forthcoming EHF EURO 2014 that he will play at home.
ehf-euro.com: Mikkel, how ready is the Denmark team for the EURO?
Mikkel Hansen: It's hard to tell. I think we played very well against France and quite well against Norway, even if we won by a bigger gap than we should have. So on the court, I think everything's as ready as it can be a week away from the competition.
What worries us most right now, are our injuries. We played with only 13 players today, some of them got hurt during the game, and some won't probably be here at the beginning at the Euro, so for now it's a big black cloud over our heads.
ehf-euro.com: Although some of you are injured, you still look very happy to get back together.
Mikkel Hansen: Yeah of course. We like being together, I think we play great handball and it's always easier to get along when you play well. It had been two months since we last saw each other, and being almost the only Dane in the French league, I feel a little bit on my own! No, seriously, it feels good to be back together.
ehf-euro.com: This game against France today had no traces of a friendly game. Is it just what you needed to get yourselves in the mood for the championship?
Mikkel Hansen: It was a very good game indeed, very hard and interesting. Sometimes, it's difficult to play physically and intense when you are so close to a championship, but in the end both teams wanted to win this game. It is definitely a game that's been useful in our preparation, we know exactly where we're at and what we still need to work on.
ehf-euro.com: It's also an important victory against a team that might compete for gold in Denmark.
Mikkel Hansen: Yes definitely. It's true that they have some key players down, but so do we. Now we know, that even if they're not 100% fit, they will still be a serious opponent.
ehf-euro.com: In your opinion, is playing at home a real advantage ahead of this championship, or does it put some pressure on your shoulders as well?
Mikkel Hansen: Of course, people expect us to win, especially because we're playing at home. The people over there expect us to win all the time anyway, so we're kind of used to that, but I'm sure it will be a great advantage in many ways, the fans will help us out when we're a little bit down, put pressure on both our opponents and the referees in the key moments.
We're all used to play big matches now, we're all grown ups I think, so I think Denmark can deal with the pressure of playing home.
ehf-euro.com: Who do you see as favourites?
Mikkel Hansen: I guess obviously us, France, Spain and Croatia. Croatia especially, they haven't suffered any major injuries, they're the only ones who haven't got any major ones actually. We'll have to be careful during the whole competition, Austria just beat Germany so that shows that we'll have to be careful playing them in the group, similarly against Czech Republic.
ehf-euro.com: Injuries is obviously a subject that comes around a lot when everyone's talking about the major events? Do you have an opinion on why players become so frequently injured?
Mikkel Hansen: Well, it's hard to say. The players that are in the Champions League and play a lot of games, you don't have much time to rest so that might be a factor.
I can understand the players who want to rest a little bit more, but it's hard, because the fans want to see the best players, and we want to compete with the best as well. It's hard to tell, but sadly a lot of it is down to bad luck.
ehf-euro.com: What can we expect from your countrymen in terms of atmosphere in the arenas in Denmark?
Mikkel Hansen: I think that's going to be a massive handball party. For us players, it's a once in a lifetime opportunity, it probably won't happen again. The fans in Denmark know a lot about the game, and I'm sure they'll be curious to go and see the other teams as well, not only us. I'm confident it will be two great weeks of handball and let's hope we can win gold at the end.