Kauldi Odriozola, a model player of Spanish handball | Sports

Kauldi Odriozola shoots on goal against Slovenia in this World Cup.
Kauldi Odriozola shoots on goal against Slovenia in this World Cup.Lukasz Gagulski (EFE)

The hotel of the Spanish handball team in Gdansk is a kind of Big Brother. Norway, its rival this Wednesday (6:00 p.m., Teledeporte) in the quarterfinals of the World Cup, with which it shares a reception, boring views and a dining room, is also housed in the venue, which is not that big. In addition, of course, to the freezing cold that falls these days in Poland. “We will go down to eat the spaghetti and we can’t even talk about the game because we have them next to us,” commented a player this Tuesday in a huddle. There, at noon, lamenting about the organization, Kauldi Odriozola (Zumaia, 26 years old), the second top scorer for the Hispanics this tournament (23, two behind Álex Dujshebaev) and the one who has gained the most growth, passed by with a calm air. to the last great championship, the 2022 European Championship. Every January, Jordi Ribera blossoms with a new one, and this time it was this right-handed winger (and left-handed arm) raised on the Basque coast of the Cantabrian Sea. “A strong, honest, Gipuzkoan guy”, they define him in his environment.

“Last year I only played 30 minutes against Bosnia and two in the final. Now, when I saw that Aleix Gómez was not coming [por lesión], I knew that my role would be different and I am taking advantage of the opportunity ”, highlights Odriozola, who in the summer changed his comfortable house in Irún for the demand of Nantes. Another great leap, sporting and personal. “It is difficult to do well in the national team from the first day. I arrived and I was with my idols, whom I saw on TV. At first, it shocks you. I was also at Bidasoa then, and now in the French league and in the Champions League, which is another level. During the season I have faced many of those who are here. You get used to playing important games. Everything influences”, explains this young man of 1.83, who was cooked in the success of the lower categories of Spain, where he was junior European champion in 2016 and the world champion in 2017, together with Dani Dujshebaev and Aleix Gómez, his competition and with whom he always has shared a room. He now does it with Gonzalo Pérez de Vargas.

His case symbolizes some of the issues that revolve around the national team and Spanish handball. On the one hand, the ease of the dressing room to absorb newcomers thanks to the same game idea developed from the base under the leadership of Jordi Ribera; and to the favorable atmosphere that is usually breathed inside the walls, outside the track. “Gonzalo tells me that he treats as they have treated him. Before in the locker room there were more differences between older and younger, they were more difficult. Luckily, I have not experienced it ”, he indicates.

Key in defense

And the second issue, this less friendly one, that Kauldi Odriozola comes to symbolize is the rapid emigration of new talents due to the limited economic capacity of Spanish clubs, except Barcelona, ​​to retain them. Of the 18 called up, only Pérez de Vargas and Pol Valera (Ian Tarrafeta’s substitute) compete in Asobal. The first is at the Palau and the second will be culé after the World Cup (from Granollers). When Odriozola agreed to sign him for the powerful Nantes, who paid his termination clause, the smallest budget in the French League (Saran, 2.3 million) was practically double that of Bidasoa, which is listed in the first echelon of the earthly world (at the margin of Barça) and that it was the only entity in the competition that did not apply an ERTE in the pandemic.

“It is a short race and you have to take advantage of it to be in the best teams and earn more money. On the court, I started well at Nantes, playing a lot. The change in life is more difficult for me, especially because of the language, ”admits this right-handed winger who was trained in his town, at Pulpo de Zumaia, until he was captured by Bidasoa at the age of 18.

A student of penalties through video (he did not miss one in the World Cup until the sixth game, against France) and a roadrunner to punish in counter-goal actions, in addition to his skill in attack, his price these two weeks has grown due to his activity of legs in the advanced position within the 5:1 defense, a Chinese in the shoes of several rivals. “Some underestimate us, they prefer to play against us. The other day, everyone chose Spain over France [en cuartos]. Others do respect us. We are never favourites, but we are always there, ”he warns before meeting Sander Sagosen’s Norway.

What’s left of the tournament

Quarters (Wednesday)

Norway-Spain (18.00, Teledeporte)

Denmark-Hungary (18.00)

France-Germany (20.30)

Sweden-Egypt (20.30)

Semifinals (Friday; 6:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. or 9:00 p.m.)

The winner of Norway-Spain against the winner of Denmark-Hungary


Sunday. 20.30 or 21.00

Third and fourth place. 18.00

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