Jordi Ribera: “We will continue to be a competitive team”


The Spanish handball coach, Jordi Ribera, was convinced that despite the generational change in which the Spanish team is immersed, the “Hispanics” will continue to show themselves in the European that will start this Thursday in Hungary and Slovakia as the “competitive” team that proclaimed champion in the last two editions of the tournament.

“There have always been questions, but what the national team has always shown is that it has been a team capable of competing. It is clear that we must give the team time, but I believe that we will continue to be a competitive team,” said the Spanish coach Jordi Ribera in an interview with the EFE Agency.

Question.- How does the team get to this European?

Answer.- They have been a bit strange circumstances for all the teams, because most of the teams have had to cancel part of their activities due to COVID. In that sense, we have been lucky because we have been able to save our tournament and play two games, and we have also been able to count on almost all the players in most of the training sessions. I think it was a good preparation, maybe the team could need a few more games, but that’s what it is. I think we got on well.

Q.- Talk about the need for time to connect the many new faces that the team presents. Is it easier to adjust the team in defense than in attack?

R.- In defense we have been improving, against Poland there were moments in which we showed a very solid 6-0 defense and those are really positive data, because we have always said that defensive work is one of our weapons.

Then in attack it is clear that a little more synchronization is needed, although there have been very good moments, especially in the continuity of the game. It is true that perhaps we have lacked a little more in the completion of the plays, but we must bear in mind that the incorporation of the centrals takes time.

Q.- What did you think of the work of Tarrafeta y Casado?

R.- I am very happy with the work of Ian -Tarrafeta- and Agustín -Casado-, I think they have known how to handle the collective game very well, but like everything else, I think we need time.

Q.- In this sense, Tarrafeta has seemed looser than Casado, who has been noticed somewhat more timid.

A.- Maybe yes. However, Agustín has been very good in training, continuing the game he had been playing in Logroño where he has really been splendid in some games. I think he can have a very good competition.

Also, the two get on very well. They are two players who I think in the future can lead the team very well, because they have a lot of handball.

Q.- Is it very hasty to demand the maximum performance from both of you with so few games at the helm of the national team?

R. – What we have never done in the national team is to go with fear. We know that you always have to respect your opponent, but you never have to be afraid of him. I think that with the preparation and the support of the players who have more experience they can carry the group well.

I see the team well, with possibilities. It is clear that a European is very complicated and that you cannot neglect yourself in any game and that you have to enter well and that may be the deficit that we have, the fact that we have not had a little more filming, but I am very hopeful and I think we can have a good competition if we are able to go day by day and take advantage of every moment of the games we have.

Q.- You have always highlighted the strength of the collective game of the Spanish team. In these moments of change, should Spain cling even more to that choral game?

A.- I always think that history is generating new figures and that is what it is about, it is clear that this team now has to make its own history.

When we started the 2020 European Championship, we said we are the champions of 2018, yes, but now it is 2020 and we have to build history again day by day, because now it is the same, with the players there are, among which there are many who They were there before, you have to build the history of the national team day by day.

Q.- When a generational change occurs, it seems that the figure of the coach is looked at with more attention. Do you have that feeling?

A.- When those players who are habitual stop appearing and others begin to arrive, it is perhaps the most questionable moment for a coach, because we are all coaches, and perhaps they would have chosen other players. It is a situation that we have to take on and it is still a very beautiful challenge for the coach, knowing that we have to keep changing, without forgetting that the objective is to always have good results.

Q.- In this sense, is it the most demanding tournament for you since you took office?

A.- The selection comes from a very good moment and now there is the question of knowing what will happen with the changes, but there have also been questions at other times, each moment has been surrounded by questions, but what has always been shown by the selection is that it has been a team capable of competing. It is clear that we must give the team time, but I think we will continue to be a competitive team.

Q.- So this European is not planned as a transition tournament?

A.- I think we have to go day by day, as we did in the 2018 European Championship and the 2020 European Championship, competing each game to the fullest, for us each game has to be a challenge.

As we have always said, our team needs a collective game, it needs to play well and if we are able to do it and the results, above all, at the beginning the team can build up confidence and we will never know how far it can go until we are at that moment.

Q.- What is the objective that is set for this European?

A.- The aspiration to score is to reach the semifinals, but for that you have to go step by step and at the moment the first objective is to go to the second phase. You have to think that in the last European Championship France and Denmark were left out of the second phase, which indicates how difficult a European is, so the important thing is to set short-term objectives, because that is what will give you results later.

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