Friday 3 June
Ole Gustav Gjekstad, head coach
On the previous matches against Metz:
“I do think that we played really great handball on both occasions against Metz but we were not able to win them. That is the past, now we are in the (EHF) FINAL4 which is a totally different situation.
“I think my players are able to overcome any difficulties and they can perform on the highest level during a weekend like this so I am not afraid before the semi-final.”
On being title-holders:
“Maybe we can say that we have bigger pressure on us because we are the title-holders but I do not think it is important. It is a whole different season. We worked hard to reach the (EHF) FINAL4 again and we are well prepared for this challenge.”
Jana Knedlikova, right wing
On her previous EHF FINAL4 experience:
“I think it is always good if you have experience from these types of matches and situations. I do not say that I can be as excited as before my first FINAL4 but my motivation still works inside and I cannot wait to be on court in front of the fans. The Champions League FINAL4 is always one of the best weekends of our seasons.”
On the upcoming challenge against Metz:
“We know Metz and we expect a great battle against them but in the (EHF) FINAL4 there are no easy games. We need to play our best handball in order to be successful but our players are ready to step up in these important games and I think we are able to solve everything on the court. It will be important to be fully focused on our game.”
On her expectations for the weekend:
“We are here to win two matches and lift the trophy but the other three teams are also here for the same reason. We have to perform better than them and we should not take anything for granted. We need to focus until the final whistle and be prepared for everything.”
Katrine Lunde, goalkeeper
On her expectations for the semi-final:
“Last time when we met Metz in the (EHF) FINAL4 (in the 3/4 placement match in 2019) we beat them despite having lost them previously. Now the situation is quite the same as during the group stage we lost twice against them and now we have the opportunity to take revenge.”
On being title-holders this year:
“It is strange to approach this weekend this way. I know that we won last time but I do not feel any special or big pressure. We will do everything as best as we can and we will see if it will be enough this year.”
Ana Debelic, line player
On the semi-final against Metz:
“They have beaten us twice, but I think they cannot do that for the third time. Those two matches against them were our worst performances this season. We are well prepared for the game tomorrow. We analysed everything and are looking for the third time lucky.”
On how to stop Metz’s attack:
“It is important to perform on a very high level in defence. We have to slow their attacks down and prevent them from scoring easy goals from fast breaks.”
On the pressure of being the title-holders:
“I don’t feel the nerves on my teammates, everyone is calm and confident. It is my first (EHF) FINAL4 which gives extra motivation. It is every player’s dream to play in the deciding event of the biggest club competition, and I am happy that my team gave me the opportunity to be here.”
Nora Mørk, right back
On being back at the EHF FINAL4:
“It is an amazing feeling to be here once again and we are ready to play. We will see in two days if we did enough to win the trophy, only handball will decide the level which we are able to play at.”
On facing Metz Handball in the semi-final:
“We played twice this season against them and lost both games. They were simply better than us, we were outplayed, we gave them too many chances to score and they took advantage. This is a different game and we need to up our level if we are to challenge for the title.”
On the EHF FINAL4 being played in the MVM Dome:
“I am eager to play in the new arena, I cannot wait to see how it is and how the fans will cheer. Personally, I also liked playing in the Papp László Arena, I won the title there last season.”
Emmanuel Mayonnade, head coach
On their preparation for the weekend:
“To be honest, we have not changed anything in our preparation. We did the same things as we usually did before our matches. Of course we feel that this weekend will be special but we did not want to change our routines.”
On the semi-final against Vipers:
“We have met with Vipers in the group stage and we managed to win on both occasions. Despite that we cannot say that we are the favourites of the semi-final as they have much more experience than us.
“It will be tough to compete with them but we learned a lot from our last (HF) FINAL4 semi-final when we let Rostov win the match in the first 15 minutes. Now we know that we have to concentrate from the very beginning of the match and we should not let them score easy goals.”
Louise Burgaard, right back
On her first EHF FINAL4:
“I am so excited to be here, finally we are in Budapest and I cannot wait for tomorrow’s match against Vipers and hopefully a final on Sunday. This is the first time I can experience the FINAL4 atmosphere and I really like it. But I do have experience from big matches so I will not be nervous.”
On Metz’ chances:
“I think there is great potential in this team. We are full of confidence and we have players who are able to step up in tough situations and I think this can be a key. I think we have already shown this season that we are a great team who can beat any team.”
Grace Zaadi, centre back
On being in Budapest:
“I’m very happy to be here in Budapest with Metz, and to be able to do the (EHF) FINAL4. It’s been a while since we knew that we were already qualified, so we waited, we waited for this FINAL4 with impatience.”
On returning to Metz from Rostov-Don halfway through the season:
“It’s clear that I’ve had an unusual season. It’s not been easy with all that’s gone on. I’m happy, I’m lucky to have been able to return to Metz, to return to France, to be close to my family and my friends, but especially to be able to experience this exciting end of season with Metz, where we’re playing the (EHF) FINAL4, we played the final of the (French) championship, we played the final of the French cup.
“It’s clear that not everything which has happened has been very positive, but the fact of coming back to Metz, I see it as a sign of life.”
On Metz having beaten semi-final opponents Vipers twice in this year’s group phase:
“In 2019, when we played the (EHF) FINAL4 with Metz, we’d beaten Rostov twice, and we lost to Rostov in the semi-final of the FINAL4.
“So we know that winning twice against an opponent means nothing, that each match has its own history and its own truth. Tomorrow we’re expecting a different match.
“For me, the FINAL4 is a bit different. We know our opponents and our opponents know us well too, and we know that tomorrow will be a totally different match to the two others which we’ve already played.”
On how Metz have prepared after qualifying in the play-offs in March, against Dortmund:
“We had the French championships. We’ve played a lot, we’ve played every week. We prepare for each match. To start with it was the championships, we had the championship final; once the championship final was finished, we put the focus on the (EHF) FINAL4.
“Even though we knew for a while that we’d be coming to the FINAL4, for us it was important to really respect every competition and to take things step by step.”
Meline Nocandy, centre back
On Metz being back in the EHF FINAL4:
“It is an amazing feeling to be back here, I think we have learnt a lot from three years ago, when we lost two games here, in Budapest. We will play against a very good team and we will try to do the best we can in the next two days.”
On playing Vipers in the semi-final:
“It is starting to become a bit of a classic in the Champions League, right? We met them a lot in the last seasons, including twice this season. We won twice against them, but that does not matter now, this is a whole different competition.”
On them winning the French title just a week before the EHF FINAL4:
“We are coming in with a big morale boost, we are feeling very good. But we also reset our minds, we are trying to get in top shape, because the next days will be tough.”
Tamara Horacek, centre back
On the semi-final against Vipers:
“We have played and won twice against them this season, which can be an advantage, but the (EHF) FINAL4 is always different. I hope it will go in our favour on Saturday. We will try to give our best.”
On their main focus in the EHF FINAL4:
“We have to be a team in every way possible, because if we cannot stay together and help each other out in tough situations, there might be problems. We have to play with our heart and our head.
“It is the end of the season and of course our bodies are tired, but if we are a really big team, we can overcome any obstacle.”
On whether winning the French championship can be a deciding factor:
“It was important to win the domestic title, but we should not let it get in our head. I hope it gives us extra motivation, even in the most difficult moments.”
Jesper Jensen, head coach
On the preparation for the weekend after losing in the Danish league:
“In Denmark we have this expression that is: where we put our light is also where we put our eyes. We just try to put the light on this weekend with two giant matches for us.
“Losing the Danish final was hard and it was tough to get back from it, but the (EHF) FINAL4 is such a huge event, and we will not allow us to take some of the disappointment into Saturday’s game.”
On the semi-final against Györ:
“There is a lot of pressure on Györ tomorrow, which can be in our favour. When we perform, we perform at a high level. If we do our best, Györ has to be very good to beat us.
“However, they have so many great players and almost anyone can be a defining factor in the match. They have an advantage of having three of the six best goalkeepers in the world in their squad. If one of them saves with 50 per cent efficiency tomorrow, then it will be tough. But I fancy our chances if we manage to do our best again.”
On whether their nerves will get the better of them:
“Everybody will be nervous at some point on Saturday, but I think our platform to stand on is pretty stable. What we can do as a team and the way we can help each other have managed to put us in a position where we are today.
“When we beat Bucharest in front of their 5,000 fans, we also got nervous, but we were able to overcome that. Tomorrow it will be 12,000 people or more, but I hope we can copy that performance tomorrow.”
Sanna Solberg-Isaksen, left wing
On Team Esbjerg’s debut at the EHF FINAL4:
“We enjoy to be here, we’ve been working for this the whole season, and it’s just fun.
“It’s crazy big. It’s the hugest thing that the club has been a part of. We’ve been working like this and taking one step at a time, and we were hoping that we’d be here during some more years, and now already we are here this year.”
On being named as All-star Team left wing:
“I’m a little surprised, but it’s on of the biggst things you can be a part of, so it’s really big for me.
“I didn’t expect it.”
On playing her sister Silje, goalkeeper for Györ, in the semi-final:
“We’ve played against each other in the EHF (Cup) final, when she was in Siófok, two games there in the final. That’s the only games we’ve played against each other. We really choose the right games.
“It will be exciting, and I guess I will be a little nervous to play against her.
“We were hoping maybe meet in the final, but that’s not the case now. It’s big for both of us and our family that both are here.”
On the semi-final:
“It will be a tough game, really tough. Györ have the best team on paper and everyone is maybe expecting them to win, but they also have the big pressure by losing this game last year (against Vipers). They really want to win this year.
“Still I think we have a chance, we never met them in several years, so we don’t really know how we’ll be against each other. It will be so exciting and I hope it will be an exciting game and almost equal in the end.”
Marit Malm Frafjord, line player
On their preparation for the weekend:
“We tried to move on from the (Danish) league defeat. Obviously we were a bit disappointed, but it is also good that we have the (EHF) FINAL4 coming up as it is a great challenge. The mood in the dressing room is fine, everyone is enjoying being here. It is a huge weekend for the club.”
On their chances against Györ in the semi-final:
“Györ is probably the best team here on paper. They have a great squad with a lot of good players in every position, which means that they are able to change a lot to keep the team fresh.
“On top of that they have three of the world’s best goalkeepers. But a semi-final is a game of its own, anything can happen, and we are confident of going through.”
On how to stop Györ’s offensive unit:
“Stine Oftedal is the engine behind their attacks. We need to stop her, or at least make it very difficult for her to operate from the middle. Some of us have played with her in the national team so we know how good she is, but we will try our best.
“We have to give our best defence of the season, but if we manage to do that, then it could be a good game for us.”
Linn Blohm, line player
On her feelings before the EHF FINAL4:
“Everyone is in a good shape and we cannot wait to be on the court and fight for the title. We started the season with the goal to win this competition and we are super motivated now that we are here.”
On being named as All-star Team line player:
“It is a great honour and I am very grateful for being voted into the All-star Team. It was an exciting season as I joined a new team and worked really hard to grow as a player. I think I could improve and that is why I am on that list.”
On Györ’s chances this weekend:
“Last weekend we could not manage to win the Hungarian Cup and it still hurts, but on Monday we had a day off and I am sure that everybody freed their mind. We learned from our mistakes and that can be an advantage this weekend.
“All the four teams here are very strong so there are no underdogs. We will give 100 per cent and we will fight until the end both days and we hope that on Sunday we can lift the trophy.”
Amandine Leynaud, goalkeeper
On their chances of winning:
“I am extremely happy to be here again, as this is what we have worked for the whole season. Everyone is here for the same reason: to win. We will go step by step.
“If you want to achieve final victory, you have to get through the semi-final first. It won’t be easy. There are many different teams with different styles of play, I am sure it will be a great weekend of handball.”
On her upcoming retirement:
“I made this decision and I am in peace with that, but I don’t want to be thinking about retiring now. I just try to enjoy the moment like I have done throughout the year.”
On bouncing back from the defeat in the Hungarian Cup:
“It’s totally different. You cannot compare the Hungarian Cup or the championship with the (EHF) Champions League. We are professionals, we have worked hard to be here. We should only think about the present. If we work as a team, then the results will come.”
Anne Mette Hansen, left back
On their preparation for the weekend:
“Now everything is really good with the team. Despite the defeat in the Hungarian Cup, I think we arrived to the (EHF) FINAL4 in the best possible way. We killed the job in training in the last couple of weeks. We are ready for the challenge.”
On their advantage against Esbjerg in the semi-final:
“We have a lot more players than Esbjerg, and we have also been here as a team before. I hope we can use that to our advantage during the game.
“We are not nervous, obviously there will be a bit of excitement on Saturday, but we need to remain focused and keep calm.”
On their chances of winning the EHF FINAL4:
“It’s 25 per cent, right? It doesn’t matter who comes our way, we have to beat them to lift the trophy. It’s the last weekend of the season, we have to give everything we have in us, we cannot save any energy.”