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.
Right wing, left wing… there is just no way to get past Vladimir #Cupara
His great saves helped @kielcehandball build a 5-goal lead over @psghand at half-time in #MOTW.#veluxehfcl #ehffinal4 #hellocologne pic.twitter.com/8qLmijhNSu
— EHF Champions League (@ehfcl) April 27, 2019
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.
🏆 1/4 @ehfcl (1st leg)
🤾🏻♂️ @HBCNantes 25-32 @FCBhandbol
⌚️ Acaba el partit / Full time
📋 Magnífica victòria blaugrana a Nantes!! / ¡Enorme triunfo azulgrana en Nantes!
🔵🔴 #ForçaBarça pic.twitter.com/BgQ2KCPBIH
— Barça Handbol (@FCBhandbol) April 24, 2019
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.
The members of our team are not allowed to eat sweets before the game, much to the disappointmnet of Roland Mikler. The president of our Club, János Szabó, promised to Roli if the the team won against Flensburg he would receive a cake from him. He stood his offer…
— VeszprémHandballTeam (@mkbveszpremkc) April 25, 2019
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.
— EHF Champions League (@ehfcl) April 26, 2019
TEXT: Andri Yrkill Valsson / cg