Persson: “We are not afraid of Magdeburg”
HBC Nantes right back Linus Persson’s season has gone from bad to good. Next, he can turn it into perfect – starting with the first leg of the EHF European League quarter-final against SC Magdeburg on Tuesday (live on EHFTV at 20:45 CEST).
After joining Nantes last summer from another French club, US Ivry Handball, the Swedish back suffered from various injuries, leaving him frustrated as he was unable to deliver.
“I was not able to play for almost three months, with small stupid injuries getting in my way. When the mid-season break came, I thought I could only improve on every level,” Persson said.
His turnaround in fortunes happened at the Men’s EHF EURO 2022 in January, when he joined the Swedish squad for the final weekend in Budapest – and won the gold medal.
“Winning this tournament, it really changed the course of my season in a lot of ways,” Persson said.
“The same thing already happened last year when we won silver at the World Championship. You are at the centre of attention, all eyes are on this competition, and when you win, it gives you a boost of confidence.”
Persson carried his confidence from the national team to his club, where he gained importance for Nantes in the decisive weeks of the EHF European League group phase in February, with a total of six goals against TBV Lemgo Lippe and SL Benfica.
It feels like the momentum is coming back for the Swede, who turned 29 this month and became a father just before Christmas.
“I feel more self-confident, but I also can feel that my teammates are trusting me more with every day as well. I have found my rhythm again, I know the systems better, I can feel that everything is starting to fall into place,” Persson said.
And right in time: Nantes are entering the business end of various competitions, as they are chasing an EHF Champions League ticket in the French league and are also still in the race to lift the French cup.
And, to start with, Nantes eye a place at the EHF Finals Men when they take on SC Magdeburg in the quarter-finals of the EHF European League.
“This is one of the goals we set for ourselves at the start of the season. We believe that we can, at least, reach the EHF Finals,” Persson said.
Even against smaller clubs in the league, the arena is sold out. There is just a massive support here, it is quite unique. It can really make a difference in close games, such as the ones against Berlin or Magdeburg.
Arriving in Nantes, he found a club that was “built to succeed. Here, everyone contributes to a winning culture. You can see it: when we don’t play so well, everyone just refuses to lose. And it shows in the results, as the club reached the EHF FINAL4 twice since 2018.”
Persson is also impressed with the support from the fans in Nantes.
“Even against smaller clubs in the league, the arena is sold out. There is just a massive support here, it is quite unique,” said Persson, and added: “It can really make a difference in close games, such as the ones against Berlin or Magdeburg.”
Nantes will count on their fans’ support once again on Tuesday when the European League titleholders come to the H Arena.
“Magdeburg, to me, are even better than Berlin. They are first in the Bundesliga, they have not lost a game in the European League. But we are not afraid. We know we have a chance to succeed.”