Five takeaways from the EHF Champions League Men quarter-finals
This is it. We now know the four teams that will compete for the EHF Champions League Men 2021/22 title in Cologne: Kiel, Kielce, Barça and Veszprém will vie for the trophy on 18 and 19 June, with the goals ranging from record extension to 10 titles right down to a first.
The quarter-finals gave us plenty to think about, with breathtaking scenarios, and here are the five main facts to take away.
2015. 2022 — the story repeats
For the first time in history, one EHF FINAL4 will feature the exact same teams as a previous one. This season, as in 2015, Kielce, Barça, Veszprém and Kiel have made it to Cologne. In 2015, the Spanish side won their second-to-last Champions League trophy amid the same line-up.
The title-holders, as Barça took the trophy last time around, will be under pressure, as the other three teams surely want to take their revenge.
PSG, Aalborg, Montpellier and Flensburg — all serious contenders
The EHF FINAL4 cannot hold eight teams, but while the likes of PSG, Aalborg, Montpellier and Flensburg did not make to the final weekend, that does not mean they did not deliver great performances this season.
Aalborg finished first in their group for the first time ever, while Montpellier held that position for a long time in the first part of the season. Flensburg proved to be a worthy opponent while Paris fell just one goal short of travelling to Cologne again.
10th appearance in Cologne for Barça
No other team holds a better record than Barça at the EHF FINAL4. The Spanish side will travel to Cologne for the 10th time in 13 editions. THW Kiel will make their eighth appearance, having participated at the final weekend twice more than Veszprém and four times more than Kielce.
Barça also hold the record for most titles won in LANXESS Arena, with three of their nine Champions League trophies claimed there. Barça are level with THW Kiel with the three titles won in Cologne, while Kielce won one and Veszprém have yet to take the trophy.
No French team in Cologne
For only the second time since 2015/16, France will have no team among the four best in the competition. The only edition of the EHF FINAL4 that did not feature a French side since then was in 2019 — right after the almost all French EHF FINAL4.
France still hold the record for most teams present in LANXESS Arena at the same time, with three in 2018, while last season saw PSG and Nantes qualify for the EHF FINAL4 before battling for third place on the Sunday.
Will be the top scorer be a Barça player?
Whose name will follow Valero Rivera’s on the top scorers record of the EHF Champions League? After scoring six in each quarter-final leg against Flensburg, Barça’s Dika Mem looks like the favourite, having netted 90 times since the beginning of the group phase to position him in first ahead of the EHF FINAL4.
His nearest opponent is Veszprém’s Petar Nenadic, with 85 goals, while Aleix Gomez, Mem’s Barça teammate, is not that far away, with 82. It looks unlikely a player from Kielce or Kiel will be able to compete, as Kielce wing Dylan Nahi ‘only’ netted 69 times — three more than THW Kiel wing Niclas Ekberg.