Penultimate showdowns: Veszprém or Kielce; Barça or Kiel?
The final weekend of the 2021/22 season has arrived and the coveted EHF Champions League Men title will be decided by Sunday night — will it be a first trophy for Telekom Veszprém, a second for Lomza Vive Kielce, or another for the well-stocked cabinets at THW Kiel or Barça?
It all starts with the semi-finals on Saturday, with Veszprém and Kielce getting the action underway before the two most recent winners of the Champions League, Barça and Kiel, meet.
Telekom Veszprém HC (HUN) vs Lomza Vive Kielce (POL)
Saturday 18 June, 15:15 CEST, live on EHFTV
- Veszprém and Kielce have already played against each other this season — in the group phase, with each team winning their home match: 32:29 in Poland and 35:33 in Hungary
- this pairing is a repeat of the 2016 final, when Kielce turned a nine-goal deficit in the second half into a 39:38 win (after penalties) to lift the trophy
- the teams met again at the EHF FINAL4 2019, when Veszprém won the semi-final 33:30
- Veszprém are in Cologne for the seventh time (and previously reached the final in 2015, 2016, and 2019); Kielce take part in the EHF FINAL4 for the fifth time (2016 was their only final)
- the only multiple EHF Champions League winner in Veszprém’s squad is head coach Momir Ilic, who won the title as a player with THW Kiel in 2010 and 2012; four Veszprém players have won the trophy once — including Manuel Strlek, who won it with Kielce in 2016 • Kielce head coach Talant Dujshebaev aims for his sixth EHF Champions League trophy, fifth as a coach, and second with Kielce; Kielce back Igor Karacic can win his third title, after triumphs with HC Vardar in 2017 and 2019 (when he was also named MVP of the EHF FINAL4)
- Veszprém back Petar Nenadic is the second-top scorer of the EHF Champions League still in the competition, with 85 goals this season — five short of the leader, Barça’s Dika Mem
- Kielce’s three leading scorers are close together: Dylan Nahi with 69 goals, Alex Dujshebaev with 67, and Arkadiusz Moryto with 65
- both teams had mixed fortunes in their domestic competitions this season: Veszprém lost the final of the Hungarian league on the away goal rule to Szeged, but won the Cup; on the other hand, Kielce became unbeaten champions of the Polish league, but lost the Cup final against Plock
THW Kiel (GER) vs Barça (ESP)
Saturday 18 June, 18:00 CEST, live on EHFTV
- Kiel and Barça share the record for titles won at the EHF FINAL4 (since the format was introduced in 2010) — with three trophies each; Barça have won nine EHF Champions League titles in total, and Kiel four
- Barça are record participants at the EHF FINAL4 and are playing in Cologne for the 10th time this year
- defending champions Barça lead the head-to-head comparison, but Kiel won both their duels played at the EHF FINAL4: the finals in 2010 (36:34) and in 2020 (33:28)
- no Spanish club other than Barça has reached the EHF FINAL4 since 2012 (Atlético Madrid), and no German club other than Kiel has done so since 2014 (SG Flensburg-Handewitt)
- Kiel’s last semi-final against Spanish opponents came in 2010, when they beat Ciuded Real; Barça’s last semi-final against a German team was in 2014, when they lost against eventual champions Flensburg
- Kiel miss injured players Sander Sagosen and Hendrik Pekeler in Cologne, but will be reinforced by Norwegian line player Barte Myrhol, who has come out of retirement to play the EHF FINAL4
- the teams recorded identical results in their 16 matches played so far this season: 11 wins, two draws and three defeats. Both teams also finished runners-up in their respective groups
- Kiel head coach Filip Jicha played for Barça from 2015 to 2017; Barça head coach Carlos Ortega worked in Germany in the past, at TSV Hannover-Burgdorf