Nikola Karabatic: 'We're on the right track'
Ahead of the Coupe de la Ligue Final4 in Le Mans on Saturday, Nikola Karabatic takes a look back on Paris Saint-Germain Handball's recent matches, also discussing the EHF Champions League and his personal situation.
Psg.fr: Last week you played Nîmes (39-29). Was that an important victory for the rest of the Lidl StarLigue season?
Nikola Karabatic: It was a big game in our championship. After bringing back a point from Nantes (29-29), it was important not to lose to the third-placed side and thus keep six points ahead of our nearest rivals. So we're keeping that gap on The H, which is a good thing for our goal of being champions.
As is often the case against Nîmes, the game was a bit of a bumpy ride...
We were expecting a big game. It was. In the end, we won because we played well and kept our intensity throughout the game. We defended well in the second half, winning a lot of balls. We ran a lot and we widened the gap. Little by little, Nîmes broke down. They also had a few absentees, which is part of the game when you're playing in European. We're on a good dynamic.
And then there was the French Cup victory over Dunkerque (32-21) ...
Even though we had a bad period against Nîmes, in these last two games we've been consistent. That wasn't necessarily the case against Nantes and Szeged. We're happy to have been able to react and show a different face.
On Saturday you'll be playing in the Coupe de la Ligue Final 4. Did you know that you can become the event's record holder with 11 titles?
No, I didn't know that... It's always cool to go for records. But I've won league cups in France and abroad, and you can make statistics say anything and everything...
After the League Cup, there will be the Velux EHF Champions League where you will face Dinamo Bucharest. What kind of match are you expecting?
If they can play with their fans in attendance, but we can't [due to anti-coronavirus measures], it will make the game even more balanced. Finishing second in the group gave us the advantage of playing the return leg at home, but without supporters there, it's not that much of an advantage. It's up to us to adapt and play a very big game in Romania. It's not going to be easy in their small, electric arena against quality players. That's going to make it difficult for us.
How are you feeling in the second half of the season?
I've been feeling fit since the start of the season! I'm trying to make the most of the playing time I've got, to show the coach that I'm there and that he can call on me. That's my job. I want to be good for the team and for the important matches that are coming up. We need to win titles!
Last week (against Dunkerque), we saw you giving advice to your son, Alek, after the game. These are important moments!
Yes! But now there's also Nora [his daughter], who takes the ball. She wants to do like her brother. For me, it's a motivation to have them in the stands. Now they understand what's going on and when their father scores goals. It makes me want to give it my all. I know they're looking forward to going home and playing on the pitch after the game [laughs]. It's a real pleasure for me to have this moment with them.