Talking points as FINAL4 moves closer

Only one game separates the remaining teams in the VELUX EHF Champions League 2018/19 from the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in Cologne, but it is unclear which four will be competing for the gold. There is still much to play for. 

We look at some talking points from the first legs of the quarter-finals before turning our attention to the FINAL4.

Can PSG weather the storm?

Paris Saint-Germain HB are in the most difficult position of all eight quarter-finalists after a heavy loss against PGE Vive Kielce, 24:34. 

The result came as a surprise for many, since the French giants won Group B and went straight to the quarter-finals after only one defeat in the group phase. Meanwhile, Kielce had to pass HC Motor Zaporozhye to reach the last eight. 

It is safe to say that Kielce are well on their way to get revenge after last season, where they lost both matches in this stage against the French champions, who advanced to the FINAL4.

Barça not likely to get complacent

Barça Lassa have only failed to reach this stage of the competition once in the last nine seasons, and that was last year. That was unacceptable for the Catalan giants, who are a step closer to the FINAL4 after their win in the first-leg quarter-final.

Barca won the first leg against HBC Nantes away from home, taking an impressive 32:25 victory. After the fiasco last season, they are not likely to become complacent before the return leg.

Nantes, the finalists from last year, should not be written off just yet however. Even though they have to win with upwards of a seven-goal difference, the fight is far from over.

Impressive Vesprém away

In their first meeting in the knock-out stage of the competition, Telekom Veszprém HC won by six goals (28:22) away from home against SG Flensburg-Handewitt.

Veszprém thereby remained unbeaten in the away match of the VELUX EHF Champions League Quarter-final for the fifth consecutive time that they have made it to this stage (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019). 

Meanwhile, Flensburg will need to go all-in in Hungary if they are to qualify for the FINAL4 for the second time in history. The first was in 2014, where they took the title. They will surely not throw in the towel just yet.

Vardar are no underdogs

Before their clash against MOL-Pick Szeged, HC Vardar were the underdogs based on the final positions in the group stage. But their 31:23 win underlines they are no underdogs.

History was on Vardar’s side, since they had only lost one time in the eight previous meetings between the two sides. After being two goals in front at half-time, 14:12, they clearly showed their strengths after the break.

The Hungarian champions will need to work some magic at home if they are to qualify for the FINAL4 for the first time.

TEXT: Andri Yrkill Valsson / cg