Inside Dinamo’s plan to get to the EHF FINAL4
When Javier Humet first came to Romania to play for HCM Constanța 11 years ago, he would not have even entertained the possibility of being in a position where a spot at the EHF FINAL4 seemed realistic.
But the Spain-born right back now has Romanian citizenship, features for the Romania men’s senior national team, and is coached by one of the finest Spanish masterminds in history, Xavier Pascual, who took over Dinamo București in 2021 and revolutionised the squad.
“It is easier for me now, as this is the system that I have grown up in, the system where I played when I was 12 or 13 years old. I do not want to say that what I found in Romania was difficult, but it was different. I adapted to it, but right now, it is exactly what I learned when I was only a kid,” says Humet.
“It is easy to see that Spain are doing things in the right way, because there are Spanish coaches both at club level and at the national team level everywhere around Europe, so things must be good to have this kind of level. And we have the kind of results that we wanted in the first part of the group, so things are getting better and better.”
When Pascual came, Dinamo were in and out of the Machineseeker EHF Champions League, trying to improve the squad and create a baseline for the future. But when Pascual took over, it was like a stamp of approval and suddenly everybody started to take notes. The Spanish coach came to Romania after winning over 60 trophies with Barça in his stint with the reigning champions in the European top competition.
Yet the path was still winding. In the first season under Pascual’s guidance, Dinamo finished seventh in their group and missed a play-offs spot. Pascual required patience, as a contender is not built over just a few months.
In the second season, though, another misstep was not allowed. And everybody knew that, doing their bit to try and build a better team. The plan worked and Dinamo secured their play-offs berth with three rounds left, despite a surprising loss against FC Porto.
Now, the Romanian champions are trying to secure fourth place in the group. But that objective will be still in play for the final round only if they clinch a win in the Match of the Week against GOG on Thursday (18:45 CET, live on EHFTV).
“We still have a very tough game against Magdeburg in the last round, but this game against GOG will be very intense. I think it will be an exciting one, because both us and them have the same system,” says the 33-year-old Humet.
“We play at a high intensity, we have very fast transitions and try to score many goals. They are the favourites in this game, because they had better results than us in the last games, yet I think it will be close,” he adds.
“Hopefully, with the help of our immense fans, who have been near us throughout the whole season, we will have a chance to win and put some pressure on them in the standings. It would be nice to finish in fourth place and play the second leg of the play-offs at home.”
With 11 points taken out of the first 10 matches, Dinamo have already beaten their previous marker of eight points in the last season, underlining their performance and their growth. Ushering in new players, with plenty of experience, has clearly helped, but so did the development under Pascual.
The Spanish coach has been in Bucharest now for nearly two years and has mastered the understanding of a team which has players from 11 different countries and four different continents in the squad. At time-outs and in training sessions, Pascual uses a mix of English, Spanish and Romanian to keep everybody in the loop about the tactics he is using.
But everybody is on the same page at Dinamo, a team which constantly strives to get better, is more and more ambitious and will definitely have a word to say in the future of the Machineseeker EHF Champions League.
Pascual has said time and time again that it is not impossible to qualify for the Truckscout24 EHF FINAL4 in the future. Does Humet agree with this?
“I really hope that they we will be in the FINAL4, with or without me. This club deserves it, the work put in here is amazing. The fans are also excellent, so I think everybody needs to dream big,” concludes the right back.
Photos © Jerzy Stankowski Spojrzenia, Roland Peka