Luc Abalo (36) has not been allowed into Norway to be able to train with Elverum since the World Cup in January – and coach Børge Lund does not know how much he can use his French star player in Barcelona on Good Friday.
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– Abalo is here, but he has been away from the team for a long time. He has tried to stay the same, but has also struggled with some minor ailments since the Olympic qualifiers, says Børge Lund to VG.
– He wants to play. We’ll see how he responds. In any case, it will be a relief for Christopher Hedberg in view of the fighting and training load he has had, the Elverum boss continues.
– I’m ready, says Luc Abalo himself when VG asks.
Olympic draw ready: The handball boys meet nightmare opponents
Elverum came last in their group in the Champions League. Barcelona did not score a single point in the second group. Now the clubs meet in the quarterfinals. As a result of the Norwegian corona rules, both matches take place in Barcelona, first on Good Friday, then on the second day of Easter.
– Abalo did not enter Norway because he is not registered in the National Register. Now we just have to hope that there will be exceptions for professional athletes or that the entry rules will change, says Elverum’s general manager Mads Fredriksen – and thinks about the playoffs.
While, for example, Elverum’s Hungarian national team player Dominik Máthé escaped straight into Norway after the World Cup, since he got a so-called d-number, Abalo was stopped at Gardermoen. He has a contract with Elverum that does not give him such an identity number.
Two away games in 24 hours: – Only possible solution
Børge Lund says that the meeting with Barcelona will be different for Elverum. Against the teams in the group stage, it has mostly been about utilizing the speed as much as possible.
– Our best weapon in the Champions League has been to run a lot. Now we meet the team in the Champions League that runs by far the most. It will be completely new to us. Now we have to regulate how we will run, see how Barcelona runs and choose our options carefully. We must evolve.
The Elverum coach admits that it has been tiring to keep the rhythm in 2021:
– There have been long breaks, then a long trip abroad. It interferes with the interaction when things go awry. So it will be exciting to see where we stand.
Handball takes action to complete the season
– It will be a big surprise about Elverum …
– The odds are of course sky high for us. But we must go in and believe in our own skills. We never go into a match and think we do not have the opportunity, says Børge Lund.
Barcelona lost the Champions League final against Kiel with Sander Sagosen and Harald Reinkind just before Christmas (corona-exposed since the summer). This season, the Spanish team has been decidedly alone in the group stage.
An injured Simen Nicolay Schønningsen is left at Elverum.
Friday’s match starts at 18.45 and is broadcast on V sport +.
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