Goalkeepers, key in this Final Four
It is well known that handball is a sport with power shots in which goalkeepers always have the last word. The goalkeeper is crucial, especially in even matches, where the difference between winning or losing is the percentage of saves. This Final Four won’t be an exception and it will be decided, to a great extent, by goalkeeping skills.
Gonzalo Pérez de Vargas, Thierry Omeyer,Arpad Sterbik and Mirko Alilović, and their substitutes if necessary, will have their own battle for the EHF Champions League. The one to perform better will lead his team to becoming European champion. How do they arrive to this final stage of the season?
Gonzalo Pérez de Vargas has just recovered from an injury in the first phalanx of the little finger of his left hand, on which he was operated successfully. This stop doesn’t seem to have affected him at all: in his first match after recovering from the injury, he achieved an impressive 60% of saves against THW Kiel. This FC Barcelona Lassa win against the German side (23-18) meant the worst scoring of Kiel in the last eleven years, both home or away. And the one to blame was him, Gonzalo Pérez de Vargas, who saved 21 shots of 38 attempts.
In the other goal of the semifinal between Vardar Skopje and FC Barcelona Lassa, there will be the international with Spain Arpad Sterbik. He perfectly knows Xavi Pascual’s pupils because he played there in the period 2012-2014. Trying to get away from the national team, Arpad Sterbik has focused this year on Vardar and has achieved, playing on goal, a historic qualifying for the Macedonian team. And he has done so with an average 41% of saves per match. His career and talent support him, so the Macedonian squad will undoubtedly have a 2-meter high wall on goal in the crucial moments.
The Frenchmen reach this Final Four with Thierry Omeyer on goal. The former (more than once indeed) best goalkeeper of the world is in the final stages of his career, but it doesn’t look like this will prevent him of making spectacular saves. Those who have seen him playing know his character and he appears in the crucial moments. That’s why, although retiring from Les Experts and being 40 years old, the Frenchman keeps fit and arrives to the Final Four after making one of the best saves of the EHF Champions League.
Croatian Mirko Alilović, Veszprém KC goalkeeper since 2011, completes this wonderful quartet. Alilović, who has won many individual and collective trophies, is one of the five best goalkeepers of the world since long ago. His size (2 meters high) and his agility on goals have left him more than once with a percentage of saves higher than 60%. But first, let’s see if he can come out on top against the experienced Thierry Omeyer.