INTERVIEW – Today, Tuesday, Niklas Landin can celebrate his first German championship, after the 2019/20 Bundesliga season officially came to an end. Based on a quotient calculation, THW Kiel were awarded the German championship.
The experienced Danish goalkeeper admits that the decision feels just as strange as qualifying directly to the 2020 VELUX EHF FINAL4, currently scheduled for the middle of next season.
By Peter Bruun
“Of course, it’s an odd feeling to win my first German championship this way.”
Niklas Landin´s reaction comes without hesitation after the Handball Bundesliga communicated their ruling on Tuesday, cutting the 2019/20 season short because of the ongoing Covid-19 lock-down.
Landin´s club THW Kiel is the new German champion, while second ranked SG Flensburg-Handewitt will qualify directly for the 2020/21 Champions League season as well.
“While it is a special situation, I also see a certain logic given our performance throughout this season and it means that I can enjoy my first German championship,” Niklas Landin tells stregspiller.com.
The German championship and qualifying to the 2020/21 edition of the VELUX EHF Champions League may not be the only achievements, Landin and his teammates will accomplish without playing any more handball between now and then.
On April 20th the European Handball Federation aims to announce, if the scheduled European Cup matches – including the Round of Last 16 and the quarter-finals of the Men´s Champions League – will be played in June.
However, Niklas Landin is in no doubt about the outcome.
“I do not believe for one second that there will be any more handball games this season,” he says.
Assuming the Round of Last 16 and the quarter-finals will be cancelled, Kiel will qualify directly for the 2020 VELUX EHF FINAL4 as one of the four best-placed teams in the group phase. As the winner of Group B, the German record champions were already sure to proceed directly to the quarter-finals.
“Of course, this is not an optimal solution, but at a time, when other things are more important than handball, it is probably the best possible way out. Anyway, I think our spot in the FINAL4 will be justified considering what we have achieved in the competition,” finds the 31-year-old Danish international.
A strange situation
The 2020 VELUX EHF FINAL4 of the Men´s Champions League has been rescheduled twice already.
First, the season-ending event at Cologne’s Lanxess Arena was moved from the original date (May 30-31) to August 22-23 and subsequently pushed back to December 28-29.
“It’s unusual to play the FINAL4 of this year in the middle of a new season, and it will be even stranger because of all the other changes.
“By then, we will have Sander Sagosen in our team after he qualified to the FINAL4 with Paris.
“But, that’s the way things are and it’s not something that players were asked for input.
“We simply have to accept the decision and play,” says Landin, who can look ahead to an even tougher match schedule than usual in the year to come.
Not only will the 2020 VELUX EHF FINAL4 be added to the Champions League schedule of next season, there will also four more Bundesliga matches, as Coburg and Essen have been promoted without any relegations.
“I am not sure the extended Bundesliga will necessarily translate into more matches during the season.
“From what I have heard, the German Cup will be eliminated for the time being. If that is the case, this may compensate for the increased number of matches in the Bundesliga,” he says.
Undisclosed salary cuts
All over Europe, players have accepted salary cuts, as clubs suffer financially from the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Niklas Landin confirms that it’s not different in Kiel.
“We have accepted a temporary decrease in our salaries for the last four months of this season.
“As the club does not wish to reveal how big the cuts are, I won’t disclose it either, but I can say that everybody is affected – players, coaching staff and employees in the office,” he explains.
Throwing the ball against the wall
Like all other professional players around the world, Landin tries to keep in shape, exercising by himself with all the challenges this kind of training includes.
“You can always throw the ball against a wall, but that’s not the same and it is hard to practice the usual goalkeeper movements, when you are on your own.
“Still, I can perform some exercises in my garden and do some running. And, I managed to get some equipment from the club’s fitness room.
“So, at least, I do not feel any weaker physically,” says Niklas Landin.