Debutants Aalborg face PSG, Barça take on Nantes in semi-finals
Aalborg Håndbold will make their EHF FINAL4 bow against Paris Saint-Germain Handball, while record champions Barça face HBC Nantes in the semi-finals of the EHF Champions League Men.
The EHF FINAL4 2021 draw took place on Tuesday morning at the Sportradar studios in Vienna, Austria and was conducted by EHF President Michael Wiederer.
The event will take place on 12 and 13 June at LANXESS arena in Cologne, Germany.
The Road to Cologne
Paris Saint-Germain Handball overcame a slow start to the season to finish second in group A and bounced back from a first-leg defeat to Kiel in the quarter-finals to set themselves up for another shot at glory.
They will take on newcomers Aalborg Håndbold, who fought their way to Cologne with tense and exciting clashes with Porto and Flensburg, in the first semi-final on 12 June at 15:15 CEST.
Barça were in a league of their own this season, winning each and every game they played en route to this season’s EHF FINAL4, overcoming Meshkov Brest with ease in the quarter-finals.
With the throw-off for the second semi-final set for 18:00 CEST on 12 June, they will take on HBC Nantes for third time this season. Barça won both clashes but were pushed all the way at home in February. Nantes claimed their place at the showpiece event for the second time after remarkable wins over Kielce and Veszprém in the knockout rounds.
Why not us?
During the draw event, presenter Markus Floth spoke to players from each of the four participants, who are beginning to feel the EHF FINAL4 2021 is becoming a reality.
PSG captain Luka Karabatic is not taking his semi-final opponents for granted, despite the gap in experience on this stage.
“We have a little bit more experience but Aalborg have players who have been in Cologne as well. They had a really nice season, Danish handball getting better and they have a chance of winning as well.”
Blaz Janc and Barça have fallen short in Cologne in recent years and know that a stern test awaits them as they strive for the title.
“We played Nantes twice already and it was really tough in Barcelona and I think it will be the same in the FINAL4. It is time to go one step further, I hope it will be this year.”
Rock Feliho missed the quarter-finals through injury but is fighting to get back on the court in time to reinforce Nantes' defence.
“Cologne is a crazy thing for every player and it is everyone’s goal, so I hope to be there and fit to play, but the most important thing is that the team is ready.”
Aalborg wing Sebastian Barthold captured the spirit of his ambitious club and showed that the Danish side come into the event with no shortage of belief.
“I feel like we have always been pushing the limits and we come to Cologne full of confidence after beating Porto and Flensburg. We know we are up against some of the really big teams but we are here to win it, that is our mindset. It is a common thing that the underdog performs well in the FINAL4, so why not us?”
EHF FINAL4 semi-final throw-off times
15:15 CEST: Paris Saint-Germain Handball vs Aalborg Håndbold
18:00 CEST: Barça vs HBC Nantes