Debutants, past winners and three Spanish coaches
After 112 group matches, 14 play-offs and eight quarter-finals, the four participants of the EHF FINAL4 are confirmed: Debutants Aalborg, record winners Barcelona, and two French sides — both past finalists — Nantes and PSG are in the pots for the semi-final draw on Tuesday in Cologne.
Here are the most impressive and important facts and figures prior to the EHF FINAL4 draw on Tuesday in Cologne (11:00 CEST, live on EHFTV).
0 clubs defended their trophy in Cologne since the implementation of the EHF FINAL4 in 2010. Kiel share this fate after the aggregate defeat against PSG.
0 quarter-final matches needed to be assessed by the EHF due to COVID-19 reasons.
1 player has defended the trophy in Cologne so far since 2010 — Ivan Cupic. After winning the 2016 title with Kielce, the Croatian became VELUX EHF Champions League winner in 2017 with Vardar. In 2019, he took his third trophy.
1 male has won the trophy in Cologne as a player and a coach: Filip Jicha — 2010 and 2012 on the court and 2020 on the bench; all for THW Kiel.
1 team were quarter-final debutants in the EHF Champions League and are now playing their maiden EHF FINAL4: Aalborg Håndbold.
1 team turned a defeat in the first-leg quarter-final into the ticket to Cologne: PSG. Aalborg and Nantes lost the second-leg matches, but qualified.
1 goal was the closest aggregate gap in the quarter-finals, when Aalborg eliminated Flensburg 55:54. In the play-offs against Porto, Aalborg were equal on goals, but proceeded thanks to the away goal rule.
1 team won both quarter-finals: Barcelona (against Meshkov Brest).
1 previous EHF Champions League winner is still in the race for the trophy: Barcelona (1996–2000, 2005, 2011, 2015). Kiel (2007, 2010, 2012, 2020) and Flensburg (2014) were eliminated in the quarter-finals; Vardar (2017, 2019), Celje (2004) and Kielce (2016) were out in the play-offs.
2 head coaches of the four EHF FINAL4 participants have won the EHF Champions League as coaches: Xavi Pascual (Barcelona/two) and Raul Gonzalez (PSG/one). Alberto Entrerrios (Nantes) has won the Champions League three times as a player with Ciudad Real. Stefan Madsen (Aalborg) has never reached this stage of the EHF Champions League.
2 — for the second time, after 2018, more than one French team qualified for the EHF FINAL4. Three years ago it was winners Montpellier, finalists Nantes and third-ranked team PSG. Now, Nantes and Paris are back.
2 of the four EHF FINAL4 2021 participants were part of the last EHF FINAL4 in December 2020 — Barcelona were runners-up and Paris finished third after the sides duelled in the semi-final (37:32 in favour of Barcelona).
3 Spanish head coaches are still part of the competition — Xavi Pascual (Barcelona), Alberto Entrerrios (Nantes) and Raul Gonzalez (PSG) — and at least one of them will make it to the final.
3 of the four EHF FINAL4 participants have been part of at least one EHF FINAL4 (inaugurated in 2010): Barcelona (now nine participations and two trophies), Paris (now four participations and zero trophies) and Nantes (now two participations and zero trophies). The only exceptions are debutants Aalborg.
3 males have won the EHF Champions League as players and coaches: Talant Dujshebaev (player for Santander; coach of Ciudad Real and Kielce), Roberto Parrondo (player of Ciudad Real; coach of HC Vardar) and Filip Jicha (player and later coach of THW Kiel). Alberto Entrerrios could become number four.
5 times in nine home matches this season, Barcelona scored 40 or more goals.
5 different nations are represented by the 12 previous winners of the EHF FINAL4: Germany (Kiel in 2010, 2012 and 2020; Hamburg in 2013; Flensburg in 2014), Spain (Barcelona in 2011 and 2015), Poland (Kielce in 2016), North Macedonia (Vardar in 2017 and 2019) and France (Montpellier in 2018). Two of those nations (Spain and France) are still represented in the race for the 2021 trophy.
6 of 112 group matches — and none of the 14 play-offs or eight quarter-finals — ended in a draw.
9 — for the ninth time since 2010, the defending champions did not qualify for the EHF FINAL4.
10 group matches — and zero play-offs or quarter-finals — ended with 70 and more goals scored.
12 matches — seven of 112 group matches, four of 14 play-offs and one of eight quarter-finals — ended with a difference of 10 or more goals.
13 matches in the whole 2020/21 season — 11 group matches and both play-offs in the Flensburg vs Zagreb tie — needed to be assessed by the EHF due to COVID-19 reasons.
14 previous Champions League winners are in the squads of the four participants: seven for Barcelona, four for Paris, three for Nantes and zero for Aalborg.
15 different clubs had been part of the 11 EHF FINAL 4 events. The 16th club is Aalborg, the Danish debutants in 2021.
16 points in 18 matches — seven victories, two draws and nine defeats — were enough for Nantes to qualify for the EHF FINAL4.
17 times, including the 2020/21 season, Barcelona have qualified for the semi-finals in the EHF Champions League. Next among the 2021 semi-finalists are Paris (five), Nantes (two) and debutants Aalborg (one).
19 goals in a single match was the lowest score of a team so far this season: first, when Szeged lost the group match 19:25 at Porto, then Elverum’s 19:39 loss in Barcelona in the play-offs. Flensburg scored 21 goals in the away quarter-final in Aalborg.
20 goals was the biggest difference in one match this season, when Barcelona won the second play-off leg 39:19 against Elverum. The biggest gap in the quarter-finals was 12 goals, when Barcelona beat Brest 40:28.
27 group matches in a row have been won by Barcelona since the opening defeat in Szeged in the 2019/20 season. In total, Barcelona won 32 of the last 33 Champions League matches — the only defeat was the 2019/20 final against Kiel in Cologne in December 2020.
28 points — the optimum, earned by Barcelona in 2020/21 — represents a new record since the group phase has been played with eight teams per group.
36 points were taken by Barcelona in their 18 matches of the 2020/21 season so far (if points were attached for knockout matches) — a new record in the Champions League, to arrive in Cologne after a perfect season.
+16 was the impressive goal difference of Barcelona in the two quarter-finals against Brest (73:57), ahead of the next clearest result, four goals in PSG vs Kiel (63:59).
40 goals in a single quarter-final was the high score, when Barcelona beat Brest 40:28. The overall high score of the season was 45 goals, when Barcelona beat Zagreb 45:27 in the group phase.
45 Champions League home matches in a row have seen Barça unbeaten, including 27 straight victories.
44 goals scored in the match Porto vs Szeged (25:19) was the lowest score since the start of the group phase. The low score in the quarter-finals was the 47 goals in the match Aalborg vs Flensburg (26:21).
49 away victories occurred in the 112 group matches (42), the 14 play-offs (six) and the eight quarter-finals (one). Barcelona (in Brest) were the only away winners in the quarter-finals.
66 times, 60 and more goals were scored in single matches in the group phase (50), play-offs (9) and quarter-finals (seven).
68 times in 112 group matches (53), 14 play-offs (eight) and 8 quarter-finals (seven), the home side was victorious.
68 goals was the highest score of the quarter-finals, when Barcelona beat Brest 40:28. 76 goals was the highest score since the start of the group phase, when Barcelona beat Zaporozhye 42:34.
93 goals were scored by Mikita Vailupau (Brest) for the wing to be the top scorer of the competition so far, ahead of Alex Dujshebaev (Kielce/90) and Valero Rivera (Nantes/86). Rivera is the top scorer still in competition.
136 matches in the group phase (112), play-offs (16) and quarter-finals (eight) were scheduled. 123 (101/14/eight) were decided on court.
+141 goals is the impressive goal difference for Barcelona after 18 matches — an average of +7.83 in every match.
150 — the match on 13 June, which will be either the final or the placement match in Cologne, will be PSG’s 150th EHF Champions League match overall.
483 goals were scored in the eight quarter-final matches decided on court — an average of 60.3.
654 goals scored by Barcelona for them to have by far the most efficient attack so far — an average of 36.3 goals in 18 matches.
7,420 goals had been scored in those 123 matches, decided on court, including 6,102 in the group phase and 835 in the play-offs — an overall average of 60.3.