Pytlick primed for title fight at home and in Europe
GOG have captured the handball world’s imagination in recent years, thanks to their exciting brand of handball and ability to deliver with incredibly young teams.
With three GOG players featuring in the EHF EURO 2022 All-star team, there is no doubting the club’s ability to bring world-class players into the spotlight.
Another player set to hit the big time in the coming years is left back Simon Pytlick, who at the age of 21 is already in his third European season and is enjoying his best campaign to date with 54 goals to his name.
“At some point we had to lose”
GOG have been in exceptional form this season, topping group B of the EHF European League Men and the Danish league.
But an intense period of games and a few untimely injuries, including Mathias Gidsel’s at the EHF EURO, left the squad a bit short-handed.
With just 11 and 10 players at their disposal, GOG lost to Ribe-Esbjerg and drew with Skanderborg Aarhus in recent days.
“We have a lot of games in this period and all of the players are doing very well to manage that but we also know that there are very tough games among them.
“We feel it in our bodies after each game, which means we have to be well-prepared when we don’t have so many players.”
“At some point we had to lose a game, we had not lost in like 200 days, so I think when we lost against Ribe-Esbjerg, we dealt with it. In Sunday’s draw against Skanderborg Aarhus, we were losing by eight goals in the second half, so we really had to fight and it was a good effort by the team to get a draw,” says Pytlick.
“Proven ourselves as a top-class team”
Despite the recent setbacks on the domestic front, GOG have been solid in the European League and are currently riding a five-game unbeaten run.
Impressive results in Europe is no surprise with this team but now there is an element of expectation that comes with it.
“Now that GOG has been playing in Europe for a few years, we have proven ourselves as a top-class team. I’m happy and proud to be a part of the team and enjoying every game we play.”
A plethora of their top players, including Mathias Gidsel, Oscar Bergendahl, Viktor Gísli Hallgrímsson and Torbjørn Bergerud are set to leave at the end of the season and with that, there is a sense that GOG feel the need to achieve something big before the season ends and this collection of players disperses.
“We have a lot of world-class players in the team right now and I think when everybody is playing their best, we have a very good chance to win all of the competitions we are in right now but the draw and a loss in the last week shows that we cannot afford not to play at our best.
“We have a very good spirit within the team right now and we go into every game knowing we can win. We want to reach the EHF Finals and maybe win the Danish league as well.”
Despite plenty of interest elsewhere, Simon Pytlick decided to extend his contract until 2025 with the club he has been playing for since the age of 12.
“It was a tough decision but I was certain about it when I decided to stay because I think GOG is the right place for me right now. I have a big role and feel comfortable with the players here.
“Yes, at one point I may go to another club but at the moment I feel good with GOG.”
“Mentally prepared to be number one”
The prolific scorer clearly made a considered decision about his future and it should come as no surprise given his family’s handball pedigree.
Simon’s mother Berit Bogetoft was on the Danish women's national team in the early nineties, his two sisters, big sister Camilla and little sister Josephine, are also talented players and his father Jan won two Olympic gold medals as Danish women’s team coach.
With my family, it is 50/50, I do not want everything to be about handball but there is so much handball experience in my family, so I also have to listen to them.
My dad has been in the game for so many years, so I have to take the experience he has and learn about what is to come. We do not talk about handball every day but there is a lot of it.
With so much handball talent in the family, can they discuss anything else at the dinner table?
“With my family, it is 50/50, I do not want everything to be about handball but there is so much handball experience in my family, so I also have to listen to them.
“My dad has been in the game for so many years, so I have to take the experience he has and learn about what is to come. We do not talk about handball every day but there is a lot of it.”
With an intense week of matches just passed, Pytlick and GOG regrouped for a light session on Monday to prepare for Tuesday’s top of group B clash at home against Benfica.
GOG managed to comfortably beat the Lisbon club 33:25 away from home back in November and Pytlick knows what it will take to achieve a similar result.
“When you meet Benfica, you know they will be physically strong. We need to run to win the game, because they want to take the tempo out of the game and beat us physically.
“Benfica are playing very well and look like a top European team, so to get the two points we need to remember that the game is 60 minutes long and it will not be won after 20 minutes.
With the teams level on 13 points and Nantes just two points behind them, a victory is a must for the Danish club as they look to secure top spot and give themselves a good chance to navigate the knockout rounds.
“It is so important to finish top of the group, so we can avoid teams like Füchse Berlin and Plock in the Last 16 and get a somewhat easier match. Everyone in the team is mentally prepared and know that we need to be number one,” concludes Pytlick.