Three left backs with more than just shooting power

PLAYERS TO LOOK OUT FOR #3: Mikkel Hansen, Vuko Borozan and Lukas Nilsson are expected to play a crucial role for Denmark, Montenegro and Sweden at the EHF EURO 2018 in Croatia

They can shoot, but they can do more than that. They all add further qualities to their reputation as shooters. What Mikkel Hansen, Vuko Borozan and Lukas Nilsson have in common is that all their skills will really be needed in order for their respective nations to be successful in Croatia.

Mikkel Hansen, Denmark

For several years the Danish national team have been relying on Mikkel Hansen for their success at major championships. Even though Denmark have a broader and deeper side nowadays, the 30-year-old Hansen remains a crucial player for his country.

He won’t become top scorer of the VELUX EHF Champions League this season. Not because of any decline in his performances, but because of the rotation at his club, Paris Saint-Germain Handball, where Hansen, Sander Sagosen and Timothey N’Guessan are all brilliant left backs.

Born in Elsinore, home town of legendary figures like Hamlet and Holger Danske, Hansen really got his career going at Funen-based club GOG, famous for developing top players. His first foreign adventure did not become the expected success as Sharhei Rutenka was the preferred left back at FC Barcelona. Back in Denmark, Hansen got his career back on track at AG Kobenhavn, opening up the road to PSG.

Since moving to the French capital, he has been a world star who has been awarded the IHF World Player of the Year title three times – in 2011, 2015 and 2016. Hansen’s most obvious qualities, apart from his hard and versatile shot, is his ability to stay clear of confrontations with the opposing defence and his great eye for his teammates, which goes along with his fantastic passes.

Vuko Borozan, Montenegro

Being named Athlete of the Year in Montenegro underlines the importance of Vuko Borozan for the national team. The 23-year-old left back really caught the eye of the international handball world last season as he played an important role in HC Vardar winning the VELUX EHF Champions League.

It was his first season in Vardar after joining from German side TuS N-Lübecke in the summer of 2016, and he certainly grabbed his chance from the start. He had already proven himself at the EHF EURO 2016 in Poland. He became a key player until a broken thumb in a match against Denmark put an end to an otherwise promising tournament for the gifted shooter.

Back at full strength, however, he made last season a personal success for himself while contributing strongly to making the season extremely successful for his new employers, as well.

In Group C in Zagreb, where Montenegro are up against defending champions Germany as well as their Balkan neighbours FYR Macedonia and Slovenia, Borozan’s qualities will be essential to the Montenegrin national team, too.

With his 203 cm and 105 kg, his height as well as his physical strength give him an obvious edge against many a defender. He is good at benefiting from his height to get his shots well over the opponents’ defence, and his variation of shots makes him even more difficult to play against.

Lukas Nilsson, Sweden

The first time the 21-year-old Lukas Nilsson from Ystad in Southern Sweden draw the attention of the international handball world was at the EHF EURO 2016 in Poland, where he definitely was not to blame for Sweden finishing only in eighth.

His performances for Sweden and Ystads IF were enough to catch the eye of several top clubs all over Europe, with THW Kiel becoming the lucky one to actually sign him on a three-year contract. Kiel have certainly not had any reason to regret signing this Swedish talent, and neither has Nilsson had any reason to regret his move.

In the Bundesliga as well as in the Champions League, Nilsson has been an asset for the Northern German club, just as he has been for his country for some time already.

He has a good height (194 cm) for a backcourt player, and physically, he can also match most of the defenders. Also, he is fast, explosive and good at changing direction, while he also possesses a rich variation of shots from long distance as well as from closer range. Finally, his ability to break through the opposing defence, especially between back and wing, is of a high level.

written by Peter Bruun / ew / ts