“It’s important to practice winning against Norway”
March 3, 2023
By Sascha Staat
Denmark beat the arch-rivals from Norway in the opener of the 2023 Golden League, in Eindhoven. After the match Louise Vinter Burgaard admitted, that it was more than the usual friendly encounter for the silver medalist of the EHF EURO 2022. And, it will take even more to beat the reigning World- and European champions in a game when it matters most.
The Danish right-back also talked about what’s coming up in Metz, where she plays her club handball.
First of all, congratulations to the win. I talked to Maren Aardahl before and she agreed that you were poised to win this game, especially after losing the final in Ljubljana.
LVB: Yes – we were extremely motivated, but we also knew that we lost to Norway many, many times before and that it would be really difficult.
Sure, we wanted revenge. It’s important to practice winning against Norway, because for a long time it was really difficult for us. But, we didn’t get the real revenge today. This opportunity will only present itself, when we are in an important game, like at the World Championship, in December.
Do you sense that you’re getting closer? In Spain (World Cup 2021 ed.) you won the bronze medal and I recall that back then your defense was outstanding. Last year, you got even closer and there’s only a small piece missing.
LVB: Yes – I think today was a good example that we take small mental steps to get the confidence level to beat Norway. Today, even though it was a really close match, it was us who enjoyed the better end.
In almost all the previous matches, it has been Norway who had the better luck. That’s why it was a great step for us, today. But, of course, we didn’t win anything yet, so we still need to take the very last step. We are really practicing hard to beat Norway, France and the Netherlands consistently. We know they are our biggest rivals.
All the teams you mentioned are able to play at a very high level – is it all about the the mental part in the end?
LVB: I think in the end it’s all about mental strength. Last years EURO final was not different. Ultimately, it was the experience of Norway that made the difference. Katrine Lunde did what she does best and made some great saves, but they also have Reistad, and Oftedal, and Mork, and Ingstad…
The national team is one thing, the club handball another. It’s really impressive what you’ve done so far this season, in Metz. How difficult will it be to take this form into the quarter finals as you won’t play the playoffs?
LVB: Actually, it’s really difficult because between March and April we’ll have only three matches in one month and it’s really atypical for us. We are used to playing every third day.
I think it will be a challenge to maintain the rhythm. But, on the other hand, we are used to train really hard and for us the practice sessions will be even harder than the matches.
We will try to keep a very high level and maintain a high load and then we will be ready. I also see it as a positive as we’ll face important matches towards the end of the season. Slowing down now has its benefits as the fall and the winter were really, really hard with many games on the road – we were traveling so much. So, I think it’s good for us to have a little more time at home to work on the process.
To be honest, if you don’t reach the EHF FINAL4, I would be really disappointed because of your great performances so far. You have a very balanced team and you play an exciting kind of handball. How does is it feel for a player knowing that you were so close last year already?
LVB: The expectations are very high. We expect a lot from us and so does the world around us because we have performed so well. Sure, it would be a disappointment if we don’t reach the FINAL4. It’s the goal of the club as well as for me, personally. But, I really believe in my team. Like you said, I think we play some exciting handball because our staff is so good at recruiting so many different players. That’s why we can play so many different styles. Bruna de Paula, for example, likes to play one-on-one. For me it’s more the cross play. We also have very good shooters with Kristina Jorgensen on the other side of the court. Yes, I think it will be a big disappointment if we don’t reach the EHF FINAL4.
Next season, you’ll get even better with Alina Grijseels and Anne Mette Hansen joining you.
LVB: Yes, I hope so. Of course, Bruna de Paula will be a big loss for us. She’s an exceptional player who can do so much. But, of course, I’m really looking forward to be three Danes in the team. It will feel like a little colony. And, I’m also looking forward to the arrival of Alina what she can do for us.