20220529

Summary: Benfica lift historic trophy after dramatic final

EHF / Eric Willemsen

The EHF Finals Men 2022 in Lisbon have been won by SL Benfica. The hosts defeated the defending champions SC Magdeburg for the EHF European League Men 2021/22 title in an exciting final by 40:39 after extra time on Sunday. Earlier, Orlen Wisla Plock beat RK Nexe 27:22 in the match for the third place.

 

 

Sunday 29 May

23:15

The party in Lisbon will surely go on for some more hours, but the live blog of the EHF Finals Men 2022 is closing here.

Thanks for joining us during those three days at Altice Arena full of excitement, drama, and high-class handball. A fitting end to another enjoyable season of EHF European League action!

No better way than leaving you with the best pictures from the final and the medal ceremony. For now, it is goodbye and make sure you join us again for the upcoming final weekends of the EHF Champions League: the EHF FINAL4 Women 2022 is on 3/4 June in Budapest, the men's event on 18/19 June in Cologne.

23:04

This was the kind of final where people say: "You must have seen it to believe it!"

Well, just watch the match highlights below and see what happened in Lisbon tonight – and believe it: SL Benfica are the champions!

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22:46

What a result for Benfica, as they win:

  • the title of the EHF European League Men 2021/22;
  • the MVP award of the EHF Finals (Sergey Hernandez);
  • the top scorer trophy for the season (Petar Djordjic, shared with Nexe's Halil Jaganjac).

On top of that: the title for Benfica means that Portugal will get one extra place in the EHF European League Men 2022/23 season!

22:36

Let's hear from Benfica coach Chema Rodriguez himself now:

20220529 ELM Finals MAGFBEN Quote Rodrguez
It was already amazing for us to play a final against one of the best teams in the world, now we even won this final. We had a lot of luck in some moments. This is an important day for handball in Benfica and Portugal, it is the club’s 90-year anniversary, so this is an amazing trophy for 90 years, after an incredible match.
Chema Rodriguez
SL Benfica head coach

22:21

HISTÓRICO!!!!!

22:17

What an outstanding success, also, for Chema Rodriguez. Only in his second year at the helm, he has led Benfica to the club's first European trophy!

22:13

He made the difference in the semi-final against Plock. He was important again in the final against Magdeburg.

Benfica goalkeeper Sergey Hernandez is a deserved MVP of the EHF Finals Men 2022 in Lisbon!

21:58

The decision for the title has been so, so close; the decision for the top scorer's trophy has even been tighter. In other words: we have not a single winner, but two, as Benfica's Petar Djordjic and Nexe's Halil Jaganjac both finish on 108: 

21:54

This is the moment all teams hoped to experience at the start of the season in September 2021.

It could become reality for only one of them... SL Benfica are the proud new titleholders of the EHF European League!

21:48

What a night at Altice Arena. Read all about that crazy, thrilling, historic final in the match review from Björn Pazen:

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21:16 RESULT | BENFICA vs MAGDEBURG 40:39 (32:32, 15:14)

What a final, what a victory! Benfica upset defending champions Magdeburg in extra time to set Altice Arena on fire. They looked down and out with a goal behind and three seconds left on the clock, but managed to take the match into extra time. There they were luckier and cooler than the favourites.

Well done Benfica, congrats on their first European trophy!

21:14 +++ BREAKING NEWS +++

And the winners are... SL BENFICA are the EHF European League Men 2021/22 champions!

20:57

Phew, Magdeburg have the edge, 35:34, when the teams switch halves for the last time. The final five minutes... and maybe a penalty shootout to follow.

Just the thrilling end this season deserves!

20:45

Would you believe it?!

Philipp Weber gives Magdeburg a 32:31 lead with just three seconds left... but that is enough for Benfica to produce a stunning buzzer beater as Alexis Borges takes the match into extra time.

In-cre-di-ble scenes in Lisbon!

20:36

In case we have a draw, this is what the official regulations say:

If a semi-final match or the final ends in a draw, there will be a five-minute break, followed by one extra time of 2x5 minutes, there will be a one-minute half-time break for changeover of teams.

20:33

Five minutes left and 28:28.

The title really will be decided in the closing minutes of the season...

20:24

10 minutes left on the clock: Benfica vs Magdeburg 25:25.

This final is going down to the wire. Exciting stuff!

20:21

Nothing easy for Magdeburg tonight...

20:16

Magdeburg keep their nose in front but nothing decisive as of yet: one goal, maybe two, not more.

20:11

And, meanwhile, Magdeburg have opened their first three-goal gap: 20:17 after nine minutes into the second half. This final is entering its decisive phase!

20:09

Wow, have a quick look at this stunning venue for the EHF Finals Men 2022!

20:04

Benfica and Magdeburg are swapping leads, as no team can build a substantial advantage. A few minutes into the second half and we have no indication who is going to lift that trophy tonight!

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19:48

One half done, one half coming up. Let's hear from EHF journalist Björn Pazen: 

"What a weekend for Sergey Hernandez: The Spanish goalkeeper of SL Benfica had already been the hero in the semi-final against Plock with 16 saves – and in the final against mighty SC Magdeburg, Hernandez continued with eight saves in 30 minutes; the same number as Magdeburg’s Jannick Green. It provided Benfica with a lead almost throughout the first half.

Benfica were ahead 9:7 and could extend the gap to three goals, but Petar Djordjic saw his penalty shot saved by Mike Jensen. Magdeburg even went 10:9 ahead following three turnovers with Gisli Kristjansson, Tim Hornke and Ómar Ingi Magnússon converting.

After 23 minutes of an intense match, two players had already received a second two-minute suspension: Magnússon (SCM) and Alexis Borges (Benfica). The match was on the edge, but Benfica had their chanting eighth player on the stands. Boosted by them and German wing Ole Rahmel, the hosts remained ahead.

And the defending champions? They know their wider bench might be the crucial factor in the end, but after 30 minutes, they are down by one: 15:14."

19:43 HALF-TIME | BENFICA VS MAGDEBURG 15:14

Another excellent showing by Benfica goalkeeper Sergey Hernandez. And defensive troubles by Magdeburg. Those are the main factors behind hosts Benfica enjoying a - narrow - lead at the break.

Benfica's German wing Ole Rahmel starring with six goals; Tim Hornke has five for Magdeburg.

Everything to be decided in the second half!

19:38

Watch this beauty from Lazar Kukic:

19:24

Wow, Mike Jensen steps in for Jannick Green and saves a Benfica penalty in the 19th minute, denying the hosts a first three-goal lead of what would be 10:7. Could be an important one!

On the other side of the court: Benfica's semi-final hero Sergey Hernandez already at seven saves again:

19:17

Not much separating the teams in the lively first 15 minutes, as Benfica lead Magdeburg 8:7. This has been one of the best goals so far, from Michael Damgaard:

19:01

The final of the EHF European League 2021/22 is off and running. Have fun!

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18:56

The players are entering the court at Altice Arena... we are ready for the big showdown, the final we have all been waiting for: SC Magdeburg vs SL Benfica.

Whatever team you are cheering for: Enjoy!

18:52

When handball matches were not decided on court but by what the fans say, then the new EHF European League champions would be...

... SL Benfica!

In the poll on this blog yesterday we asked for your favourite team to win the final: Magdeburg or Benfica. Thanks all for taking part, and here is the final result:

18:42

We have been doing a lot of previewing of the final here on the blog today. What is missing, is the opinion of our EHF journalist Björn Pazen.

This is what Björn expects from Benfica against Magdeburg:

"Will emotion and atmosphere be enough to stop the defending champions on their way to another winners’ podium? Of course, SL Benfica have much more to show, but the question is whether the fans will grant extra wings to their side, nicknamed the Eagles.

Magdeburg are running through the competition like a steam locomotive, but the only time they were really challenged this season was against a Lisbon-based team: against Sporting CP in the Last 16, when only one goal decided in Magdeburg's favour.

Judged by their squad, the experience, and the current performing level, Magdeburg are the clear favourites to win tonight, which would be their sixth trophy in three EHF competitions – and those players definitely know how to stand the heat. But not always the best team on paper wins a final tournament in the end – but the team with the most constant level over two matches within 24 hours.

Benfica and Magdeburg can both make history in different ways – and in the end, it is how they cope with the different pressure. From the width of the squad, Magdeburg are a class of their own in the EHF European League, but with similar passion and defence class like in the semi-final against Plock on Saturday, Benfica can make their fairy-tale story come true."  

18:36

Plock take bronze deservedly, especially for all what they have done during the season. But let's switch out attention to the next match...

... the final between Benfica and Magdeburg throws off in just over 20 minutes!

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18:28

Read how Plock defeat Nexe and end their strong season with a highlight – even though they have aimed for more in Lisbon:

18:01 RESULT | PLOCK vs NEXE 27:22 (14:13)

Gratulacje!

Plock bounce back from their semi-final loss Saturday to beat Nexe in the third place match of the EHF Finals Men 2022 and take the bronze medal. Lovro Mihic with five goals the leading scorer.

Also, well done to Nexe who have been excellent competitors at their first ever final tournament appearance.

17:54

Important moment in the second half: Plock goalie Admir Ahmetasevic steps in to save this penalty and prevent Nexe from a comeback:

17:39

Team timeout Nexe. Plock are back at a five-goal lead: 21:16. Can Nexe coach Branko Tamse inspire his team to hit back once again in the last 16 minutes?

17:35

Morawski's counterpart at Nexe's side, Dominik Kuzmanovic, also starring:

17:26

Mentioned before how well Adam Morawski started this match. Here is just one example:

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17:14

The first 30 minutes of the third place match are behind us. Here is what EHF journalist Björn Pazen thinks of Plock vs Nexe so far:

"Orlen Wisla Plock seemed to me more eager and dedicated in the first 20 minutes, while until then the number of mistakes in attack was definitely too high on RK Nexe’s side. Both goalkeepers – Adam Morawski (Plock) and Dominik Kuzmanovic (Nexe) – have been in brilliant form, but the Polish side took a higher profit of Morawski’s saves, turning them right into counter-attack goals. Also, Abel Serdio was on fire, netting four of Plock’s first nine goals in the first 15 minutes.

Nexe’s low-paced attacks did not cause many problems to Plock’s stable and movable defence, except from long-distance shots. But coach Xavier Sabaté needed to change the line-up after the disqualification of defence boss Mirsad Terzic in minute 23, who had hit Dorian Markusic in the face. The main reason why the margin at the break is just one goal, with Plock having been 13:8 ahead, are the nine saves of Kuzmanovic.

Plock lost their rhythm after the red card – and the first goal of Halil Jaganjac brought Nexe level with Plock (13:13) after they completed a 5:0 run.

Everything is open – mainly if Nexe can continue like they played in the last five minutes."

17:08 HALF-TIME | PLOCK vs NEXE 14:13

Plock lead but Nexe will go to the dressing rooms with the better feeling: the Polish side have been leading by up to five goals (13:8) but not been able to hold on to it as the team from Croatia have found some rhythm in the closing stages of the first half.

17:04

Nexe finally finding their stride. Led by a perfect four from four from Farhrudin Melic and with a 5:0 run, they come back from 13:8 to 13:13. Game on!

16:49

Halfway through the first half and Plock lead Nexe 9:6.

Pretty much the opposite from how the teams played in Saturday's semi-finals, with Plock looking fresher and more aggressive than in their Benfica match, while Nexe so far do not demonstrate the same spirit like in their Magdeburg game.

16:42

Adam Morawski is starting brilliantly! Four saves in the opening 10 minutes for the Plock goalie; that is already twice as many as his total in Saturday's semi-final against Benfica...

... though Morawski could not do much about this lovely lob from Fahrudin Melic:

16:35

Plock making their intentions clear from the throw-off: 4:1 in just over four minutes, with the first two goals from Abel Serdio.

16:31

The match is running! Who takes the bronze?

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16:17

Plock vs Nexe is also Dmitry Zhitnikov vs Janko Kevic:

16:06

Also for Nexe left back Halil Jaganjac, the upcoming match will be the last for his current club. Jaganjac is bound to leave the Croatian side as top scorer of the EHF European League 2021/22 season (107 goals, eight ahead of Benfica's Petar Djordjic), illustrating how instrumental he has been in Nexe's road to the EHF Finals Men 2022 in Lisbon.

The top scorers' title and the bronze medal would make Jaganjac certainly proud heading into the German Bundesliga next season: he has signed with Lomza Vive Kielce in Poland but will first play on loan for Rhein-Neckar Löwen.

15:57

Today's match against Nexe will be the last in the Plock jersey for Adam Morawski. The goalkeeper has been defending the blue-and-white colours of the Polish club since 2013 – with the exception of one season on loan in Stettin. The international continues his career after the summer on 2022 in Germany, at MT Melsungen.

Morawski will sure want to win bronze with Plock before joining the first foreign club in his career. 

15:42

We have asked EHF journalist Björn Pazen again to share his pre-match thoughts with us. Here are Björn's expectations from the third place match:

Can Orlen Wisla Plock finally win an EHF Finals’ match, or will event debutants RK Nexe end their season on a high? From a psychological point of view, the Croatian side are the favourites in the 3/4 placement match: Nexe had nothing to lose and showed a strong performance in their semi-final against SC Magdeburg, though they could not really endanger the defending champions.

Plock, though, showed their “weakest match in these four years since I am coach,” as Xavier Sabaté said after the 26:19 defeat SL Benfica. It was a disappointing and lacklustre performance, full of mistakes, and Sabaté is more needed as psychologist than as coach to get his players ready for the clash with Nexe.

After losing three of three EHF Finals matches so far – having finished fourth at the 2021 edition – Plock need to deliver something on Sunday. Nexe again can play without pressure – and support their outgoing super star Halil Jaganjac in his effort to become top scorer of the competition.

The prediction: a narrow win for Nexe.

15:31

Nexe and Plock are returning to Altice Arena earlier than they would have wanted: the third place match starts in about an hour as both teams, coming off Saturday's disappointment, will be eager to finish their season on a high – and with a bronze medal.

You find the teams on the official match page on eurohandball.com.

15:20

Welcome back to final few hours of the EHF European League Men 2021/22 season!

We are just over an hour away from the third place match (Nexe vs Plock at 16:30 CEST), followed by the final (Magdeburg vs Benfica at 19:00 CEST).

Are you ready?!

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11:30

The countdown is running: only five hours now until Nexe and Plock throw off, while Magdeburg and Benfica take the court in the Altice Arena at 19:00 CEST for a spectacular finish to the EHF European League 2021/22 season.

We take a break now but are back with the live blog well in time for the third place match and stay with you until the lights in Lisbon go down.

11:17

Benfica did everything right when they downed Plock in the semi-final on Saturday. Can head coach Chema Rodriguez prepare his team just as perfect for the final against Magdeburg?

Rodriguez won't have to worry about the home crowd, which evolved into the so-called 'eighth player' for Benfica with their support and cheering throughout the semi-final, and they will do nothing less tonight.

On the court, it might be a different story, as Magdeburg look more fresh and sharp than Plock did on Saturday. Rodriguez will have to tune in his tactics against the German powerhouse, and at the same time hope that Sergey Hernandez can put in another brilliant performance between the posts.

A tough ask, but Benfica know this is their chance and the time to deliver again!

11:01

Tonight's final comes two weeks after SG BBM Bietigheim won the women's edition of the EHF European League. So, if Magdeburg were to win tonight, we will have two German teams holding the title in the women's and men's second-tier European club competitions at the same time. That last happened with, of course, two German teams – Wallau and Leipzig – back in 1992... but that was even before the EHF started organising the competitions, in 1993/94.

And, a Magdeburg triumph would even mean that both trophies would be held by the same Dutch family: Inger Smits won with Bietigheim, brother Kay Smits could follow with Magdeburg tonight!

10:52

Bock aufs Finale?

"Fancy the final?" The titleholders are within one step of defending their title from last season.

Pure statistically, their chances are very, very good, since the trophy in Europe's second-tier men's club competition (now EHF European League, previously EHF Cup) went 16 times to a German team in the last 17 seasons. Fair to say that below EHF Champions League level, there is no other national league with more depth than the German Bundesliga.

10:38

The third place match between Nexe and Plock is more than a warm-up game for the big final. No matter what happens this afternoon, those two teams can look back at an impressive EHF European League campaign, and both have vastly added to the attractivity of the competition throughout the season.

It is also a hard-to-predict match: based on recent results, one would favour Plock, just for their well-balanced squad that rode on 11-match unbeaten streak, only ended by Benfica in Saturday's semi-final. The Polish side are also determined to better their result from last year, when they left the inaugural EHF Finals 2021 in fourth place.

On the other hand, Nexe did well to stay close to Magdeburg for large parts of the other semi-final, while they are coming off a campaign that included wins over two strong Danish sides: Bjerringbro in qualification, GOG in the quarter-finals. And with – most likely – the competition's top scorer in their ranks, Halil Jaganjac, the Croatian side could well give their season a bronze finishing today.

10:25

And... the highlights of Plock vs Benfica:

10:20

Before we take a closer look at the all-decisive games coming up today, let's enjoy the best moments from the two semi-finals one more time.

Here are the highlights of Magdeburg vs Nexe:

10:11

Magdeburg or Benfica?

Benfica or Magdeburg?

Better than tossing a coin is reading EHF journalist Björn Pazen's final preview, so you know all the facts and figures before the big final (and, of course, we have not forgotten about the third place match in this preview):

9:44

The story of the day Saturday was the convincing triumph of hosts Benfica over a team that was favoured by many, Plock. But rising to the occasion and led by a terrific performance of goalkeeper Sergey Hernandez, the Eagles were flying high on their way to a 26:19 semi-final win.

Just the excitement the home crowd at Altice Arena was hoping for!

9:30

Good morning and welcome back to the live blog for the EHF Finals Men 2022!

This Sunday marks the very last day of competition in the EHF European League season 2021/22. While it is hard to say goodbye to one of international handball's most exciting leagues for a couple of months, we couldn't be looking forward more eagerly to this day.

We throw off the action with two strong teams – Nexe and Plock – who want to finish in third place, before the hosts and the defending champions battle it out for the title: Benfica vs Magdeburg is our big final!

  • 16:30 CEST, third place match: RK Nexe vs Orlen Wisla Plock
  • 19:00 CEST, final: SC Magdeburg vs SL Benfica

 

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Saturday 28 May

21:07

The semi-finals are done and dusted, so we know our schedule for Sunday:

  • 16:30 CEST, 3/4 placement match: RK Nexe vs Orlen Wisla Plock
  • 19:00 CEST, final: SC Magdeburg vs SL Benfica

Magdeburg have taken the next step towards a successful title defence; can they take the final step, too? Or can Benfica finally lift their first European trophy after two lost Challenge Cup finals in the past – and do so in front of their rousing home crowd?

Join us again here on the live blog Sunday; in the morning hours, we will chat a bit about the medal matches, and in the afternoon and evening, we are following the happenings on court in that brilliant Altice Arena again.

No better way to leave you for the night than some images of the sheer happiness from the Portuguese fans in Lisbon. This is what handball does to you when your team wins!

20:49

We started the EHF European League Men 2021/22 season with 52 teams. Only two are left in the race for the title: Magdeburg and Benfica will play the final in Lisbon on Sunday at 19:00 CEST.

Our poll question couldn't be more obvious: who do you think is going to win the title?

20:36

Wow, what a night for Benfica! They were not the favourites coming into the semi-final against Plock, but truly delivered from the opening stages, while the Polish visitors desperately sought for a solution. And just when you believed they might have found one, then there was Sergey Hernandez...

Read about the heroics of the Benfica goalkeeper in EHF journalist Björn Pazen's match review:

20:09 RESULT | PLOCK vs BENFICA 19:26 (8:10)

Felicitações!

Benfica have done it - and how! The hosts defeat Plock deservedly by seven goals to set up a final against defending champions Magdeburg. Altice Arena will be on fire again on Sunday!

19:59

Why Benfica are doing so well? Watch this:

19:51

We are halfway through the second half and Benfica lead by five. Have they done enough already?!

In any case, Plock have a mountain to climb in the last 15 minutes but the Polish side look remarkably flat today. It is hard to speculate about the reasons, probably that mid-week match against Kielce for the Polish championship? The injury to key player Niko Mindegia, who is sorely missed at this event?

Scoring 14 times* in the first 45 minutes is not going to take any team to the final.

* that is not just Plock's fault: Benfica goalkeeper Sergey Hernandez is a-ma-zing!

19:35

While Sergey Hernandez keeps saving everything that is save-able for Benfica, the hosts are building five-goal lead: 14:9 after six minutes into the second half.

 

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19:19

Here are the half-time thoughts of EHF journalist Björn Pazen:

"What a difference a crowd makes! With their shouts, chants and songs, several thousand Benfica fans push their team to the limit at Altice Arena. But despite this great atmosphere, the fans saw the fewest first-half goals of the whole EHF European League season – only 18 goals, three less than at Sporting vs Schaffhausen in the group phase (9:12), and including six penalties.

After the high-speed start in the first semi-final, Benfica and Plock both had their focus on building a solid defence rather than on their attack, proved by the score line of just 3:1 after 10 minutes, with only two field goals scored at that time. Both defences forced the opponents into position attacks, there was almost no room for counter-attacks.

Boosted by the saves of strong goalkeeper Sergey Hernandez and an incredible strong blocking percentage, Benfica pulled ahead to 6:2, as Plock caused an unusual high number of technical mistakes and did not score for more than 10 minutes. But when Plock had ended this period, they managed to use their back court stars, such as Zoltan Szita. Being down only 10:8, Plock still have all chances to turn the match around and make their approximately 50 fans in the arena happy."

19:11 HALF-TIME | PLOCK vs BENFICA 8:10

The hosts are not giving away anything, and Plock are seldom able to find the gaps in the Portuguese defence. This is going to be a tight, close, and exciting second half!

Oh, and those 18 goals in total is the lowest number of first-half goals in any match this EHF European League season, since Sporting CP and Kadetten Schaffhausen were at 9:12 at the break of their match... also in Lisbon (but at a different venue, obviously).

18:59

Well, that have been nearly 11 (= eleven!) minutes without Plock goal, from the 9th until the 20th. Still, they are only 6:3 down against Benfica.

Defence is key, for both teams so far, as is strong goalkeeping:

18:48

Plock opened the scoring in this second semi-final, but meanwhile Benfica are leading 5:2:

18:45

Not quite a high-scoring game so far: 2:1 Benfica after nine minutes. You feel there is a lot at stake...

18:20

With the clock ticking and 18:30 CEST approaching fast, it is time for 'Pazen's Predictions' again; here is what EHF journalist Björn Pazen expects from the second semi-final between Plock and Benfica:

"There are many similarities between Orlen Wisla Plock and hosts SL Benfica: Both are coached by Spaniards, which means, both play a Spanish style. Both count on many internationally experienced stars, such as three-time EHF Champions League winner Jonas Källman for Benfica or Plock’s Polish wing Michal Daszek. And both just narrowly missed the domestic title last week: Plock lost the crucial final match against Kielce on a penalty shootout on Tuesday, and FC Porto have just defended their Portuguese title on Friday after beating Benfica last weekend.

The main questions of this semi-final will be: How much will the fans in the huge Altice Arena boost Benfica? On paper and from previous results, Wisla are slightly favourite in this first ever duel of both teams, but when thousands of frenetic Portuguese fans stand as one behind Benfica, this might be a game-changer."

18:11

So, we know half of what we want to know today: Magdeburg are into the final, Nexe will play the 3/4 placement match... but who will be their opponents?

Plock and Benfica are getting ready for their duel for the one remaining ticket to Sunday's final. Throw-off is in 15 minutes.

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17:58

So, Magdeburg have done it! Many might have expected them to beat Nexe, but still, they had to deliver on court and truly have done so.

Here is the match review from EHF journalist Björn Pazen:

17:33 RESULT | MAGDEBURG vs NEXE 34:29 (18:13)

Herzliche Gratulation!

Magdeburg are into the EHF European League final, and just one match away from defending their title.

17:31

One of the best goals of the match, from Matthias Musche, who is having an impressive showing on the left wing:

17:25

Nexe are doing well in this semi-final but they have just too many player positions where the opponents are far better: Magdeburg are cruising towards the final!

Nexe will not end Croatia's wait for a final appearance in Europe's second-tier club competition since RK Metkovic Jambo reached the EHF Cup final in 2001 – which they lost to Magdeburg! Also, Metkovic will remain the last Croatian winners of the competition, following their title in 2000.

17:11

Magdeburg 27, Nexe 23; and we are approaching the last quarter. Nexe have been as close as two goals from Magdeburg, but just don't manage to come closer.

16:56

Wow, that 18:14 is goal No. 100 for Halil Jaganjac since the start of the group phase! How impressive is that?

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16:44

Let's hear from EHF journalist Björn Pazen again for his half-time thoughts:

"Both fan groups of Magdeburg and Nexe are dressed in green, but judged by the volume they produce, you can clearly hear the difference: the German fans won the duel on the stands before the break, as their black-dressed team is doing on court against the white-dressed side from Croatia.

And two Danes steered SCM to their clear advantage: goalkeeper Mike Jensen, who stood like a wall, and left back Michael Damgaard, who had scored already six times in the first 19 minutes (14:9), and seven goals at the break.

On the other side, Nexe’s top scorer Halil Jaganjac had a strong start with two early goals, but then needed to rest after his injury occurred in the league match against Zagreb – so he still has to wait for his 100th strike since the start of the group phase. His side is down by 13:18 – and Magdeburg do not seem endangered at the moment."

16:40 HALF-TIME | MAGDEBURG vs NEXE 18:13

The titleholders have taken nothing for granted from the start of this match and have been at their best throughout against their Croatian challengers. After a strong start, they have lost impact, especially since Halil Jaganjac has been spending more time on the bench as the match progresses.

Michael Damgaard the leading scorer, with seven for Magdeburg.

16:37

Magdeburg in control so far of the first semi-final. Here is a goal from Michael Damgaard, who scored 11 times against Nexe in a group match earlier this season:

16:32

First team timeout Nexe. Coach Branko Tamse sees his team 15:11 down with just over five minutes left in the first half. He wants to make sure the gap doesn't grow bigger again in the first half.

16:25

Magdeburg are so full of confidence: you see in every move, in every attack that they feel in full control of what is happening on the court in Atice Arena.

And the scoreboard after 18 minutes doesn't lie: 14:8...

16:15

For a moment you could think that Magdeburg were running away with this one early on, but Nexe hit back from 8:4 down to just 8:7. Game on again!

16:07

Magdeburg open an early three-goal gap, following a 4:0 run for a 6:3 lead after six minutes.

16:00

Let's go! Nexe have started the EHF Finals Men 2022!

15:44

In case you missed it earlier, our EHF reporter Márcio Menino – who has a home game in Portugal this weekend – invited Nexe's Halil Jaganjac and Benfica's Petar Djordjic for an Instagram live interview on the official EHF European League channel.

Check it out:

15:37

Magdeburg and Nexe have officially nominated their players for the first semi-final. And yes, now confirmed: Halil Jaganjac is on the list for Nexe!

He took a few bruises in the domestic league clash with HC PPD Zagreb, but is fit enough to be part of Nexe's first semi-final experience.

Jaganjac has been so, so important for the Croatian side this season. Can you imagine: his third goal will be his 100th since the start of the group phase. Stunning!

You can find the players' names on the official match page here on eurohandball.com.

15:22

One can feel the jitters, it is getting serious now. The EHF Finals are about to start. So, what to expect from the first semi-final? We asked our EHF journalist Björn Pazen for his personal preview:

"RK Nexe have nothing to lose and do not feel any pressure, SC Magdeburg arrive full of confidence – this can be the base for a brilliant first semi-final at Altice Arena in Lisbon. Of course, Magdeburg beat Nexe twice in the group phase, but both sides fully agree that the semi-final on neutral ground will be a completely different match.

While Magdeburg can score from all positions, all eyes on Nexe’s side will be on youngster Halil Jaganjac, who will say farewell to his club after the EHF Finals to join Rhein-Neckar Löwen (on loan from Kielce). Jaganjac can decide matches on his own, proved in both quarter-finals against GOG.

And mainly those matches increased Magdeburg’s respect for their opponent. Even the fact that the defending champions are the only unbeaten participant of the EHF Finals does not scare Branko Tamse and his team, while on the other hand, SCM can be the first team since Frisch Auf Göppingen in 2017 to defend the title in the second-tier EHF men’s competition. Since 25 European League matches, Magdeburg are unbeaten, with a run of 23 victories and two draws – impressive numbers, but they know that every series can come to an end. Maybe today?"

15:05

Good afternoon and welcome back to the live blog for the EHF Finals Men 2022 in Lisbon.

We are now less than an hour away from throw-off as titleholders Magdeburg and tournament debutants Nexe have arrived at Altice Arena and are getting ready for the opener, starting at 16:00 CEST.

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12:00

It is noon, time for our lunch – with a bifana, pastel de nata, pastéis de bacalhau, or maybe rissóis de camarão..?

Only four more hours until Magdeburg and Nexe get the action going at the EHF Finals Men at Altice Arena in Lisbon. We are back with the live blog an hour before throw-off, so join us again from 15:00 CEST.

Até depois!

11:47

Plock against Benfica also means: Xavier Sabaté against Chema Rodriguez:

 

Xavier Sabaté:

  • Plock coach since 2018
  • previously worked with Veszprém from 2015-17, leading them to the EHF Champions League final against Kielce which Veszprém lost after a dramatic penalty shootout
  • coach of the EHF Champions League 2015/16 All-star Team
  • great eye for detail, praised for tactical analysis and team building qualities

Chema Rodriguez:

  • Benfica coach since 2020
  • previously worked as assistant coach at the Hungarian national team before joining Benfica; became head coach of Hungary, too, in March 2022
  • his playing career included stints at Valladolid, Ciudad Real, Atlético Madrid, and... Veszprém, including two years under Sabaté as coach
  • adapted Benfica's playing style, giving it a Spanish flavour, since arriving last season

11:34

All eyes from the thousands of Portuguese fans at Altice Arena tonight will be on Benfica. Can As Águias, The Eagles, fly into the EHF European League final?

11:17

Soon after we have learned whether Magdeburg or Nexe advance to Sunday's final, the second semi-final will determine their opponents: Plock or Benfica.

A truly interesting contest between Polish pride Plock – a team that did well last season to reach the inaugural EHF Finals 2021 and have done just as well this campaign – and Portuguese hosts Benfica – a team that can beat any opponent since they eliminated Rhein-Necker Löwen in qualification.

Here is some key preview info on the second semi-final at 18:30 CEST:

  • Plock and Benfica have never met before; Plock did beat Benfica’s local rivals Sporting in the Last 16 last season
  • Plock qualified for the premiere edition of the EHF Finals in Mannheim in 2021; Benfica are the second Portuguese team at the finals of the second-tier European cup competition, after FC Porto in 2019
  • Benfica reached the final of the former EHF Challenge Cup twice, in 2010/11 and 2015/16
  • Plock have lost just once since the start of the group phase: against Füchse Berlin; they won 12 of their other 13 matches – including the reverse fixture against Füchse
  • Plock will be without Spanish centre back Niko Mindegia, who tore ligaments in his right knee this week in the final domestic league match of the Polish season, against Kielce
  • after beating Löwen, Benfica went on to gather nine wins, two draws and three defeats
  • both head coaches are Spaniards and they both coach a national team as well: Chema Rodriguez (Benfica) is Hungary coach; Xavier Sabate (Plock) is coach of the Czech team
  • the current top scorers for the two sides are Petar Djordjic (Benfica/90 goals since the start of the group phase) and Mark Sergej Kosorotov (Plock/63)

10:58

So, this is already going to be the third time Magdeburg and Nexe will meet this season. Can the German side make it three in a row, or have Nexe meanwhile found the key to success?

Let's have a quick look at how their earlier matches went this season:

  • 7 December 2021: Magdeburg vs Nexe 32:26 (19:14)
    Magdeburg did the damage in the opening quarter, as they went from 5:1 via 10:3 to 12:5 in the first 15 minutes. That was a difference of seven goals, while the match ended on six; so mathematically Nexe 'won' the remaining 45 minutes 21:20...
    Best scorers – Magdeburg: Philip Weber 6 goals; Nexe: Fahrudin Melic 8 goals
  • 8 March 2022: Nexe vs Magdeburg 24:28 (11:11)
    A completely different match compared to the first one: this time, Nexe started better and took an 8:5 lead, before Magdeburg got going. Led by an excellent Michael Damgaard, Magdeburg only made the difference in the last 20 minutes, after the scoreboard still showed 16:16 in minute 40.
    Best scorers – Nexe: Fahrudin Melic 7 goals; Magdeburg: Michael Damgaard 11 goals

10:39

If you have just read our feature on Altice Arena – and I am sure you have – you know that Germany vs Croatia was the last handball match to be played in this venue. So it is only fitting that our sport returns to Altice Arena with another German-Croatian duel.

This time, of course, we are talking about Magdeburg and Nexe. Here is some key preview info on the first semi-final, which is set to open the EHF Finals Men 2022 at 16:00 CEST:

  • Magdeburg have won seven of the eight previous duels with Nexe, including both group phase matches earlier this season; Nexe's only win came 10 years ago, in the Last 16 of the EHF Cup 2011/12
  • Magdeburg are the defending champions; they have also won the former EHF Cup three times and the EHF Champions League once
  • Magdeburg can win two more trophies this season: after taking the IHF Super Globe in the autumn of 2021, they can become German Bundesliga champions... and win the EHF European League again
  • Nexe are the first team from Croatia to qualify for the final tournament of any EHF European club competition
  • Nexe have lost the final of the Croatian league against HC PPD Zagreb; they had handed Zagreb their first domestic defeat in 15 years in the regular season but lost the best-of-three final 2-0 (31:26 away, 26:24 at home)
  • with 97 goals since the start of the group phase, Nexe’s Halil Jaganjac is the current top scorer still in the competition; Magdeburg’s leading scorers are Michael Damgaard and Ómar Ingi Magnússon, with 54 goals each
  • Magdeburg are the only unbeaten team in the competition with 12 victories and two draws; Nexe have racked up eight victories, one draw and five defeats

10:23

An absolutely brilliant venue is hosting the EHF Finals Men 2022. Here is a closer look at the history of cultural and sports event that took place in Altice Arena in the past:

10:11

Before we dive deep into the serious stuff and take a close look at both semi-finals, let's start the day a bit more lighthearted. Here is another Timeout Challenge, this time with Lovro Mihic.

What do you think: would the Plock star rather order a beer or a wine..? Find out:

10:00

Good morning! This is the day we have all been waiting for: the EHF Finals Men 2022 in Lisbon throw off in six hours' time. Welcome to what promises to be an exciting day of handball.

Just a reminder, this is our schedule for Altice Arena today:

  • 16:00 CEST, semi-final 1: SC Magdeburg vs RK Nexe
  • 18:30 CEST, semi-final 2: Orlen Wisla Plock vs SL Benfica 
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Friday 27 May

19:25

We are going to leave it here for today with our coverage of the EHF Finals Men 2022. We are back tomorrow morning when take an in-depth look at both semi-finals. Hope to see you again then!

For now, I leave you with a story which shows that the teams are ready! Read what they told EHF journalist Björn Pazen after the training sessions on Friday:

 

18:52

The third and last team to get a feel for the Altice Arena on Friday were Nexe, who completed a training session late afternoon. Here are some impressions from Uros Hocevar | kolektiff:

18:26

Business gets serious in Lisbon on Saturday, so today is still room for some fun. Let's play the timeout challenge.

Which is Petar Djordjic's favourite colour, you think?

17:47

If you have been watching the EHF European League closely this season, I mean very closely, you might have noticed something on the images from the Benfica and Plock trainings here on the live blog...

Yes, the EHF Finals Men 2022 will be played with the new, official EHF European League ball for the 2022/23 season! The SELECT balls, also the official one for the EHF Champions League, have got a fresh new design. And with a competition as dynamic and powerful as the EHF European League, this new ball is reflecting exactly that, with the official social media hashtag #ehfel prominently printed over it.

17:33

So, you might be wondering where you can watch all the action this weekend?! Of course, EHF's platform EHFTV is always the first place to go... but don't be disappointed if the EHF Finals Men 2022 matches are not available for you there. It means that a local or regional broadcaster in your area has the rights to show the matches. A total of 22 TV stations across Europe is broadcasting the event live.

See the overview below for a possible broadcaster in your region (if you are in Switzerland, turn to DAZN please):

17:12

Fancy a quiz?

Alright, here are seven question on the EHF Finals Men 2022 in Lisbon... how many can you answer correctly? Take our quiz and find out if you are just as ready for the weekend as our four teams are.

16:33

We complete our tour around the four teams with, of course, hosts Benfica. Their journey in the EHF European League 2021/22 started back in August, in qualification round 1 against Kriens Luzern from Switzerland. Fast forward nine months, and they are the proud hosts of the EHF Finals Men 2022 this weekend and have a chance to write history for the club.

Centre back and one of the key players for Benfica this season is Lazar Kukic. Read what the Serbian player told EHF journalist Danijela Vekić in this interview:

16:08

Orlen Wisla Plock are playing their second straight EHF Finals Men. Alongside defending champions SC Magdeburg, they are the only team returning to the final tournament of the EHF European League after the premiere last season. And with no Polish team having won Europe’s second-tier club competition before, this is the chance for Plock to write history.

Read what Michael Daszek told EHF journalist Danijela Vekić in the build-up to this weekend:

15:58

Next up in the Altice Arena... Plock! They are heading into their second EHF Finals Men, after their debut last year. Here are some images from their training session, captured by Uros Hocevar | kolektiff.

15:47

EHF European League Men 2021/22 top scorer Halil Jaganjac is counting down the days until his farewell from RK Nexe. This summer, the 23-year-old Croatian left back is joining Rhein-Neckar Löwen – but he has a lot left to look forward to before his departure, most notably the EHF Finals Men 2022 in Lisbon this weekend.

And Nexe will start their mission against another German team, titleholders Magdeburg. Here is what Jaganjac told EHF journalist Danijela Vekić:

15:06

Benfica were the first today to take the court in Altice Arena for a training session. Here are some impressions, shot by Uros Hocevar | kolektiff.

14:54

Jannick Green is on his farewell tour after eight years at SC Magdeburg – and hopes to crown his last season there with two more trophies. In the German Bundesliga, Magdeburg can become domestic champions for the first time since 2002 if they win their home match against HBW Balingen-Weilstetten on 2 June.

Before that, Magdeburg hope to defend their EHF European League trophy this weekend.

EHF journalist Björn Pazen spoke with Green earlier this week for this interview:

14:37

Before we going to meet the four teams in more detail, let's have a look at the playing schedule for the semi-finals on Saturday and the 3/4 placement as well as the final on Sunday. The draw took place three weeks ago with the following result:

SATURDAY 28 MAY:

  • 16:00 CEST – semi-final 1: Magdeburg vs Nexe
  • 18:30 CEST – semi-final 2: Plock vs Benfica

SUNDAY 29 MAY:

  • 16:30 CEST – 3/4 placement match
  • 19:00 CEST – final

14:22

So we have Benfica here, of course, they are the hosts.

We have Nexe here, too, the first-time participants at the final tournament of an EHF club competition.

And there we have Plock, who were part of the inaugural EHF Finals Men a year ago and have come back this year.

And we have...

... wait, where are Magdeburg? The titleholders from Germany are the only side not already present in Lisbon this afternoon for a practice session in the Altice Arena.

Magdeburg opted to have their session in familiar surroundings before making the trip to Portugal. Judged by the images on their Twitter account, the team spirit could hardly be better in Bennet Wiegert's squad:

14:00

Boa tarde!

Good afternoon! And welcome to the EHF Finals Men 2022 in Lisbon. This weekend we are going to find out which team is going to lift the EHF European League Men 2021/22 trophy. Here on the live blog we guide you through the weekend, keep you up date on what is happening on and off the court in that lovely Altice Arena.

Matches are Saturday and Sunday, so we have plenty of time today to look forward to what is coming our way during this two-day handball feast.

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