Telekom Veszprém - Paris Saint Germain (INGLÉS)
The match opening the Final Four will face Telekom Veszprém and Paris Saint Germain at 15.15h on Saturday, June 3rd.
The Final Four of the greatest continental competition in handball, which will be held on June 3rd and 4th in Lanxess Arena (Cologne), is near. The main actors of this massive show will be FC Barcelona, HC Vardar, Paris Saint Germain and Telekom Veszprém.
It won’t be a typical F4. For the first time since it is played in this format, that is, in the last 8 editions (since season 2009/2010), it will be the first one without any German team to fight for claiming the European handball throne. However, there will be plenty of Spanish flavor in it because, in addition to FC Barcelona playing there, three of the four teams involved have a Spanish coach, with Paris Saint Germain as the exception.
The match opening the Final Four will face Telekom Veszprém and Paris Saint Germain at 15.15h on Saturday, June 3rd. A match which, as usual in this kind of events, it is expected to be even, but with the French squad seen as the favorite. The Parisians are not only the favorites for the semifinal, but also to ultimately end up crowned as champions.
This is, to a great extent, due to the talent of their players, with international stars like Nikola Karabatic,Mikkel Hansen,Uwe Gensheimer and many other top players, which makes it the only team to afford this. Although their rivals have great players as well, PSG is the team that has some of the best players in the world in every position. What’s more, their bench is also full of more talent.
In addition to that, there is the great performances they have achieved this season, winning the French league with authority and not having won only two games in Champions League group stage (against FC Barcelona and THW Kiel), and managed to finish in second position, only behind the Spanish team. In the last 16, they succeeded in beating their compatriots HBC Nantes thanks to a first win at home by 8 goals and a draw (26-26) in the second leg.
In quarterfinals they qualified again for the F4 after beating MOL Pick Szeged in the first leg of the tie 27-30, but drawing 30-30 in Paris.
The Frenchmen hope to achieve their first European title, even more after last season’s disappointment, when they lost in semifinals against the team that finally became champion, KS Vive Tauron Kielce. This was something quite unexpected because, like in this season, the Frenchmen were the favorites.
However, it won’t be so easy for them in the Final Four semifinal, since they face a real tough team, Telekom Veszprém. The Hungarians have reached again the Champions League F4 (the third in a row) to improve their final second position of the last two editions. They will also try to forget last season’s disappointment, which ended in a bit of a drama, when they lost the final against KS Vive Tauron Kielce in the penalty shootout after winning by eight goals at half time.
Xavier Sabaté’s men are back in another F4 but, for different circumstances, they are less favorite this time. They have been performing irregularly this season, but they have managed to win the Hungarian league, the 25th in their history.
They finished third in this Champions League group stage. only behind FC Barcelona Lassa and Paris Saint Germain, two teams also playing the F4. In the group stage, they won every game but two draws and four losses. Precisely, these four losses happened against the F4 rivals: in both matches against the French squad and also against the Catalan.
In last 16, they defeated Zagred, winning both legs of the tie. Later, in quarterfinals, they won again both matches against Montpellier, proving that they are an ambitious and serious team.
They will try everything for the F4, with confidence enough to lift their first Champions League and with the experience of having lost three finals (2002, 2015 and 2016).