24/01/2014

El toro furioso, the raging bull

FEATURE: Spanish top scorer Joan Canellas hopes to take revenge for his sides "simply terrible" Olympic Games defeat against France

Photo: Uros Hocevar

"I still have this goal on my mind, as if happened yesterday. We were so close, but suddenly we were so far away from everything. Simply terrible!"

When Joan Canellas looks back on the 2012 Olympic quarter-final of his Spanish team against France in London, he only remembers one situation. When William Accambray snatched the ball, shoots, scores –final buzzer. France go in the semis, Spain are out.

On Friday Joan Canellas and his teammates have the chance to take revenge in the EHF EURO 2014 Semi-final, when Spain faces France again, this time in Herning.

Canellas is one of the key figures in the Spanish team, not only as he is their current top scorer with 32 goals.

The two-metre tall left back has already been awarded twice as 'Best Player of a Match' during this competition and was handed over a watch as a present.

"I think I will give the second watch to one of those kids, who will take part in my handball camp in Spain next summer. Or maybe I will give it to one of my friends, who always ask me for memorabilia from handball matches," Canellas said.

Like Domagoj Duvnjak (Croatia) and Hans Lindberg (Denmark), the Spaniard will represent current VELUX EHF Champions League winners HSV Hamburg in the semi-finals.

"It proves that we have some good players in our squad."

And the “toro furioso” (raging bull), who known for his famous long distance shots, hopes that a medal will be hanging around his neck on Sunday.

"It was and is our dream to add some silverware to our cabinet, maybe even silver or gold. But France are a very strong team, not only since the spectacular comeback of Thierry Omeyer and the brilliant performances of Nikola Karabatic.

"But we have fighting spirit, and we know that we need to improve mainly in the defence," Canellas says and adds with regards to Karabatic: "He is the best Niko of all time at the moment."

Canellas has been impressed by the improvement of the French team during the EHF EURO, so his prediction on the Spanish chances is quite humble:

"It is 40 to 60 percent in favour of France. We did not play as well as we usually do in the main round matches. France were more stable, so I see them as the favourites."

Canellas never has won an EHF EURO medal, but has already one bronze (2011) and gold (2013) medal from World Championships in his cabinet.

The season 2013/14 started quite hectic for him: After his former club Atletico Madrid had closed down his handball department, he directly to HSV Hamburg, where he was originally supposed to arrive only in June 2014.

But in a short time he fitted well into the EHF Champions League winners' team and even speaks fluid German by now – but now enjoys being among the Spaniards.

"We have a really good atmosphere in our team, we really have fun in Denmark."

written by Björn Pazen / ts