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16/01/2014

Guardiola still sees much room for improvement

INTERVIEW: Despite two wins from two matches in the EHF EURO Preliminary Round, the Spanish line player says the world champions have not peaked yet

Photo: Aniko Kovacs

It was a tough piece of work for Spain to eventually beat Norway in their second match of Group B in Aalborg on Tuesday.

But the 27:25 win kept the world champions' record at the EHF EURO 2014 clear and already booked them a ticket for the main round in Herning.

Before their 'group final' against Iceland on Thursday, which will decide the top spot and how many points both teams take to next stage, ehf-euro.com spoke to line player Gedeon Guardiola, who plays club handball for Rhein-Neckar Löwen in Germany, about their targets in the upcoming matches and their chances to win Spain's first EHF EURO title.

ehf-euro.com: Did you expect such a tight match against Norway?

Gedeon Guardiola: We knew that Norway wouldn't play as weak as they did in their opener against Iceland. Especially my club teammate Bjarte Myrhol and their back court players caused us some real problems.

But we also stood in our own way, we did not play on highest level. So we clearly have to improve in the upcoming matches.

ehf-euro.com: On Thursday Spain will face Iceland to decide which team will win the group. Is this a real final in your opinion?

Gedeon Guardiola: Every point counts in the main round, and it is our clear objective to arrive at Herning with the maximum of four points to have a perfect base for the rest of the EHF EURO.

We will have to run a lot and to run fast against Iceland to stop their famous counter attacks, like the ones from Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson.

But we have analysed our mistakes and now know what needs to be changed. In my opinion this top duel will be decided in defence – and in defence we stood strong most of the time so far.

ehf-euro.com: You arrived at Denmark as the reigning world champions. Does this mean the targets are set higher than before?

Gedeon Guardiola: You don’t get any bonus at the EHF EURO, when you arrive as the world champion. The tournament started at zero for us like it did for all other teams. We have two victories on our account now, but it is much too early to talk about high targets.

ehf-euro.com: Spain never won gold in the EHF EURO history – has the time come now?

Gedeon Guardiola: It is much harder to win gold at an EHF EURO event than at a world championship, as you do not have any easy game. In my opinion, Denmark, France and Croatia are the main favourites – maybe we follow quite close behind.

But you cannot talk about a medal, when you did not even finish the preliminary round, it is too early to predict. So we go step by step – and the next step is Iceland.

written by Björn Pazen / ts