Summary: Semi-finalists in Budapest ready for trophy battle
The EHF FINAL4 2023 officially begins on Friday with the opening party in the fan zone in front of MVM Dome — the place to be this weekend! Budapest then heats way up on Saturday as the semi-finals take place, followed by the finals on Sunday. On Thursday, Györ, FTC and Esbjerg arrived in Budapest, while Vipers travelled to Hungary on Wednesday.
- EHF FINAL4 2023 taking place in Budapest on 3 and 4 June, with the semi-finals on Saturday and the finals on Sunday
- Saturday's semi-final schedule: Györ Audi ETO KC vs Vipers Kristiansand 15:15 CEST; FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria vs Team Esbjerg 18:00 CEST
- the fun begins on Friday with the official opening party in the fan zone at MVM Dome
- find out where to follow the EHF FINAL4 2023, including where to watch the matches. All games will be streamed live on EHFTV (geo-blocking restrictions apply)
- read all the latest news and interviews on the EHF Champions League Women 2022/23 here
- Courtney Gahan reporting live from Budapest. Photos by kolektiff
The main event for the day, the arrival of the semi-finalists, is done and that means it's time to wrap up the live blog coverage. But this is just the very tip of the iceberg, and it is only going to get more action-packed from here!
Tomorrow, on Friday, we will be bringing you plenty of inside info from the media calls, where we will speak to all the semi-final teams first-hand. In the evening, the EHF FINAL4 2023 gets officially underway with the opening party in the fan zone at MVM Dome.
What a welcome for the Hungarian clubs, FTC and Györ, as they arrived at the team hotel this evening.
Check it out below.
Any serious handball fan knows the name Henny Reistad well — hard to believe it was only two years ago that she was voted Best Young Player in the EHF Champions League, then immediately went one step better and took the MVP award at the EHF FINAL4 as she played a big role in Vipers' first title win.
That EHF FINAL4, in 2021, was Reistad's second, after she played the 2018/19 edition, claiming third with the Norwegian side. Last season, she returned with her new club, Team Esbjerg.
And what have these three EHF FINAL4 appearances amounted to, aside from the medals and trophies? 48 goals in the event, which places her sixth on the all-time top scorer list for the EHF FINAL4 — an incredible feat considering all those above her appeared at the EHF FINAL4 at least five times.
Nycke Groot and Anita Görbicz are the frontrunners, with 57 goals apiece, which means Reistad needs just 10 goals to pass them. Keep in mind she is the top scorer of the season, with 130 goals, so 10 strikes seems very well within reach.
Reistad is just 24 but her trophy cabinet has been filling at a rather alarming rate...Will she add yet another accolade, and maybe the trophy, this weekend?
The two Hungarian sides, Györ and FTC, have arrived at the team hotel in Budapest — and that means all four semi-finalists are now checked in and the countdown to the weekend's events can really begin!
For the first time in the history of its club competitions, the European Handball Federation is introducing a coach’s challenge, in a move aimed at increasing the fairness and integrity of handball.
The new regulation will be in force at the EHF FINAL4 in Budapest, with team official A being allowed to challenge one referees' decision, or the absence of a call, per match.
Read more about how the coach's challenge works below.
Let's start to look more closely at the semi-finalists, through their own words — in the past week, we have spoken to many of the stars of the EHF FINAL4, and the result is plenty of great reading material for you.
We begin with the defending back-to-back title holders Vipers. Our journalist for the weekend, Adrian Costeiu, caught up with the MVP of the 2022 edition, Marketa Jerabkova, as well as legendary goalkeeper Katrine Lunde, who targets her seventh EHF Champions League trophy this weekend.
We continue with Vipers' semi-final opponents and the most recent trophy winners before the Norwegian side, Györ. Adrian spoke to wing Viktória Győri-Lukács and coach Ambros Martin, who are both highly experienced at the EHF FINAL4. Have a read of what they had to say about the upcoming event below.
Jumping over to the other semi-final now, where FTC are set to make their EHF FINAL4 debut against Team Esbjerg, who did that last season.
FTC goalkeeper Blanka Bíró said her team "want to enjoy every single second of the games. We have fought together all season and now this is the prize we have."
Although it is their first EHF FINAL4, FTC do not dream small. But neither do Esbjerg.
The Danish team's wing Sanna Solberg hopes the fact her side were at the EHF FINAL4 2022 will prove an element in their favour: "We are really looking forward. Now, we were there last year as a team, and then some players have tried it a lot of times, while some have never tried it before, but as a team we were there last year, and we know more about what it is. So, it is certainly also an advantage for us that we know what it is about."
Solberg's teammate and fellow left wing, Beyza Irem Türkoglu, hopes she can make history for Turkish handball and keep raising the profile of the sport in her country. Türkoglu is taking the court in Budapest less than a month after Türkiye's first ever international club title was won by Konyaalti, as they won the EHF European Cup.
"I wish more Turkish players would have the chance to experience that atmosphere," said Türkoglu, reflecting on her first participation in the EHF FINAL4. "Last year, when we made it to the EHF FINAL4 for the first time, the Turkish handball community got too excited."
Check out the features on Esbjerg and FTC below.
We have great prizes available for four lucky winners: the jerseys of the EHF FINAL4 participants! Follow the instructions on this post for your chance to win.
How many goals were scored so far this season? How many past EHF FINAL4 MVPs will be on court in Budapest? How many players passed the 100-goal mark in 2022/23?
If you can answer all of those — or even if you can't — then you definitely better see if you can conquer our EHF FINAL4 quiz!
Which of the EHF FINAL4 participants has the most efficient attack? Who has the most effective defence? Who is the fastest?
Data analyst Julian Rux has put together his examination of the key weapons for each of the semi-finalists. Read it below.
There is one trophy on the line this weekend — but for some, that trophy represents an additional title alongside those they have already claimed in the top-flight club competition.
Nora Mørk has the chance to clinch the trophy for the sixth consecutive time, after she won with Györ in 2017, 2018 and 2019, then with Vipers in 2021 and 2022. The 2020 edition was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. If Mørk takes this trophy, it will be not only the sixth straight one for the Norwegian right back, but her seventh overall. Her first was with Larvik in 2011.
Another Norwegian has the chance to take a seventh Champions League trophy: Vipers goalkeeper Katrine Lunde, who has won the title with Viborg, Györ and Vipers.
Only two other players have won the Champions League six times, and both are retired from the court: Ausra Fridrikas and Bojana Popovic.
Read more about multiple EHF Champions League winners in the article below.
Szia! Hello! Welcome to the start of our live blog coverage of the EHF FINAL4 2023, where we will see the title in the EHF Champions League Women 2022/23 decided over two exciting match days on Saturday and Sunday.
- Semi-final: Györ Audi ETO KC vs Vipers Kristiansand 15:15 CEST
- Semi-final: FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria vs Team Esbjerg 18:00 CEST
- 3/4 placement match 15:15 CEST
- Final 18:00 CEST
But we do not have to wait until Saturday for the excitement to begin. On Friday, the event gets underway with the official opening party in the fan zone in MVM Dome. Today, on Thursday, three of the four semi-finalists are arriving — Esbjerg have arrived while Györ and FTC will check in later in the day. Vipers travelled to Hungary on Wednesday.
Below, read all about how you can watch and follow the EHF FINAL4 2023.