Metz Handball, Vipers Kristiansand, Györi Audi ETO KC and Rostov-Don all won both legs of their Champions League quarter-finals and are now set to contest the DELO WOMEN’S EHF FINAL4 in Budapest in May. For Metz and Vipers, it is the first time at the pinnacle event in European women’s club handball. Rostov have qualified for the second time, while four-time champions Györ bring significant experience as they have now reached their fifth FINAL4 out of six editions since the format was introduced in 2013/14.
Metz Handball’s qualification is significant as they will be the first French club to play the Women’s FINAL4. The success comes after they were eliminated in the quarter-final stage in the last two seasons. This year, they finally made it past their quarter-final opponents: Romanian club CSM Bucuresti. In the two-leg quarter-final, Metz won the away match 31:26 and were therefore in a promising position ahead of the home game. On their own court they took a much narrower victory, at 23:22, but it was enough to earn Metz a place in the FINAL4 based on the 54:48 aggregate result.
Vipers made club history with their qualification, which came after an aggregate 49:37 victory over Montenegrin side Buducnost. Vipers also won by five goals away in the first leg, 24:19, setting themselves a solid advantage before the return game. With a 25:18 win in the second leg, Vipers secured the clear aggregate result.
At the draw event in Budapest to determine the semi-final pairings on April 16, Vipers and Metz learned their opponents for their maiden FINAL4. Vipers will take on defending back-to-back champions Györ, while Rostov will meet Metz. The draw was conducted by EHF Vice President Predrag Boskovic and official ambassador for the Women’s EHF Champions League, three-time champion Anja Althaus.
It is therefore a case of debutants versus experience at the FINAL4. Rostov are led by record Champions League-winning coach Ambros Martin in his first season with the Russian club, and after playing their first FINAL4 last season, they will now bring much greater experience. To reach the 2019 edition, Rostov won both their quarter-finals against Hungarian club FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria, thereby collecting an aggregate 62:48 (29:26, 33:22) victory.
As Metz already beat Rostov twice in the regular season – the Russian team’s only defeats in 12 games throughout the year – it will be an interesting rematch. Györ and Vipers also met twice in the regular season, with the Hungarian team winning both matches. Györ qualified for what is their fourth consecutive FINAL4 thanks to an aggregate 62:49 (29:28, 33:21) victory over Danish club Odense HC in the quarter-final.
More information on the Women’s EHF Champions League can be found on the official website.
Photo: Anikó Kovács