Road to EHF Finals Men gets thrilling finish
Four matches on Tuesday in the second leg of the quarter-finals will confirm the four participants of the EHF Finals Men 2023 in Flensburg on 27/28 May. Three German teams are still in the race for the season-ending tournament of the EHF European League Men 2022/23.
EHF Finals hosts SG Flensburg-Handewitt want to book their place but the home game against Fraikin BM. Granollers might be tougher than expected after the German side’s narrow one-goal win in the first leg. Frisch Auf Göppingen, though, start with a nine-goal advantage when they visit RX Nexe.
The only German club having to come from behind are Füchse Berlin, who went down by four goals against Kadetten Schaffhausen in Switzerland last week.
The other tie started with a draw last week, as Montpellier HB and Sporting CP have all to play for in France on Tuesday.
QUARTER-FINALS, LEG 2:
Füchse Berlin (GER) vs Kadetten Schaffhausen (SUI) – first leg 33:37
Tuesday 18 April, 18:45 CET, live on EHFTV
- last week’s first leg marked Füchse’s first defeat after winning all 12 previous matches this season; also, Füchse never conceded that many goals in a European cup game before
- Kadetten wing Odinn Thor Rikhardsson was the outstanding player in the first leg with 15 goals, raising his total to 39 in three knock-out matches, and to 104 for the season
- Füchse have been part of seven final tournaments in various European club competitions, including the EHF Champions League, EHF Cup, and EHF European League
- Kadetten have not been in a European semi-final since making it to the EHF Cup final in 2009/10 – against another German team: TBV Lemgo
- Füchse have come back from a big first-leg defeat before: they beat Ademar Léon from 11 goals down in the EHF Champions League quarter-finals in 2012, and Nexe from eight goals down in the EHF Cup quarter-finals in 2018
- Nexe need to win by at least 10 goals to make it to the EHF Finals, but have never beaten Göppingen in three previous meetings
- three players all scored seven times in the first leg last week: Marcel Schiller and Kevin Gulliksen for Göppingen; Janko Kevic for Nexe
- Marcel Schiller is also the German side’s top scorer all season, netting 64 times
- Nexe are welcoming back their top scorer Fahrudin Melic, who missed the last two games due to a calf injury
- Göppingen team captain Tim Kneule: “We should not try to just contain the result. We know that Nexe can play much better than they did in Göppingen and we want to make a good game again.”
- the hosts come into the match on the back of big 36:23 domestic win over Sesvete; Göppingen did not play last weekend and return to Bundesliga action against HSV Hamburg on Thursday
The first game we lost by a big margin – nine goals – but I don’t think that is a fair reflection of the strength of Nexe and Göppingen. I am still an optimist, but a realistic optimist. Somehow, I dream of one amazing evening for all of us. The whole team will have to be at their maximum, just like all the fans who will come to watch the game and support us.
SG Flensburg-Handewitt (GER) vs Fraikin BM. Granollers (ESP) – first leg 31:30
Tuesday 18 April, 20:45 CEST, live on EHFTV
- Flensburg’s 21-game unbeaten streak across all competitions ended last Saturday with a 38:31 defeat against Rhein-Neckar Löwen in the German Cup semi-finals
- the German side have won all six European home matches so far this season, by an average margin of 6.1 goals
- Granollers only took three points in five away matches in the group phase, but impressed with a 30:25 win at Skanderborg-Aarhus in the Last 16
- Flensburg goalkeeper Benjamin Buric overtook Montpellier’s Charles Bolzinger on top of the list of goalkeepers with the best saving efficiency this season – with 35.3 per cent (125 saves in total)
- Granollers captain Antonio García Robledo scored six times in the first leg and his team’s leading scorer this season, with 72 goals
I think this is the game that any player would like to play: we face very good players, but we know that if we play a perfect match, we can go through to the EHF Finals. We know the quality of their players, the difficulty of the opponents' arena, the fact that they are the organisers of the EHF Finals. We are very excited.
- three players all scored seven times in the first-leg draw last week: brothers Martim and Francisco Costa for Sporting, and Yanis Lenne for Montpellier
- the Costa brothers are in the top 5 scorers of the competition, with 97 and 93 goals respectively since the start of the season
- Montpellier have won all seven home games in the EHF European League this season; they lost only once across all competitions – against HBC Nantes in the French league in September
- on the other hand, Sporting have lost three away games in the EHF European League so far this season, including the first leg of their Last 16 against Bidasoa Irun
- Montpellier remain leaders of the French league after their weekend win against Sélestat (34:25); Sporting top the Portuguese league and beat Santo Tirso 35:26 on Saturday
Montpellier are having a great season: they are top of the French league and are an EHF Champions League side. They have a very good set of players, a very balanced squad. Last week the match was very intense; for Montpellier it was a good result, for us it was bittersweet. We are a young team, but we have a lot of ambition and we want to win.
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