As the new year kicks off, so too does the excitement of the Liebherr Cup Final which approaches this weekend. Saturday will see the Final Four tournament take place and the team from ASV Grünwettersbach have been preparing to take on an intimidating opponent in Borussia Düsseldorf in their semifinal tie.
The JOOLA-sponsored team have been preparing to mount their title defense – after winning the title in its last edition. A strong line-up of Dang Qiu, Wang Xi, Tobias Rasmussen and Deni Kožul will take on the team of Timo Boll, Kristian Karlsson, Anton Kallberg and Ricardo Walther.
Team Manager Martin Werner said 2020 was the hardest year the club had faced in its history, noting that despite a strong start winning the German Cup, the Coronavirus quickly brought a great many challenges. Many clubs across Europe and the world have struggled, but ASV bounced back strong.
“Our team qualified for the Final Four again, which I am very proud of,” says Mr. Werner, “It will be different this year, as no spectators are allowed and therefore, we have to do without the great fans of ASV (the red wall). The rules in the hall because of corona are very strict, so I hope our team will not be influenced by the empty hall.”
Last year’s “Red Wall” (Photo Courtesy of ASV Grünwettersbach)
One of the players who will be in the limelight for the club is the German National Team’s Dang Qiu. The penholder has made big moves in the past couple of years on the international stage.
While the competition looks tough, and Dang notes that Düsseldorf is fresh off a European Champions League victory, he also says the team was in the same position last year when they were able to win the event.
“It will be a hard match against Düsseldorf in the semifinal; they played amazing in Champions League. We will play our best and see what happens. In the end, table tennis is a sport – and in sport, anything can happen,” says Dang, who just returned from training with the German National Team.
The team has had their usual preparations, although in recent days were joined by TTC Bergneustadt who will compete in the opposite semifinal. The addition of Stefan Fegerl and Alvaro Robles to the training sessions has been welcomed by the team.
Former ASV team member, Jan Zibrat, said that aside from usual practice the team has also been trying and practicing different options for doubles, as this is an important part of the match draw. Zibrat is now Coach of the Karlsruhe Institute of Table Tennis, which resides at ASV Grünwettersbach.
“Robles and Fegerl enjoyed the practice with our group and I think everyone is prepared for Saturday. Both teams (ASV and Bergneustadt) know that they need to play their best table tennis and have a bit of fortune on their side too to beat giants like Dusseldorf and Ochsenhausen,” says Zibrat.
A victory come Saturday would surely be welcomed, as the venue recently underwent further expansion. The crew are really to fight to continue with table tennis at ASV into the future!
JOOLA wishes the team the very best of luck, as they take on Düsseldorf in the Final Four Liebherr Cup semifinal. Be sure to tune into the TTBL-TV LIVE tomorrow, January 9th, at 11:00 (GMT+1) and cheer them on!