Who will succeed Slagelse?Article
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Equal chances for Hypo and Zvezda before the second leg of the CL final.

Who will succeed Slagelse?

One team will definitely break the Danish success series in the Women’s champions League? Slagelse (2004, 2005 and 2007) and Viborg (2006) won four consecutive CL titles for Denmark, but this season Danish dominance has come to an end.

A lot depends on Oh Whether it will be the first Russian triumph ever in the CL (for men and women), or Hypo with their 9th title (Champions League and Champions Cup since 1989), we will see.

The Austrian champions have a good basis after losing the first leg in Russia by a goal (24:25), but they have to be aware that Zvezda are a strong away team.

They showed it in the semi-finals when they lost the first leg at home against Győr, but then won the away match in Hungary.

“The chances are still 50:50,” this is the opinion in Hypo. It seems that both teams will play with their best teams and the daily form may decide the title race in 2008.

For Russian handball, a CL title would be the biggest club success since 1988. That year a former Soviet club, Spartak Kiev won the last title in the Champions Cup – against Hypo. The Austrians snatched the title one year later.

Last season Lada Togliatti were the first Russian team ever to reach the finals of the Champions League, but lost against Slagelse DT. Just the same time Zvezda won the EHF Cup.

The finalists could not play their home matches at home. Zvezda played all their CL games (including the final) in Chekhov, while Hypo will organise the final in Wiener Neustadt’s “Arena Nova”, half an hour away from Vienna.

This venue might be special motivation for Hypo’s South Korean playmaker Oh who has become World champion in the “Arena Nova” in 1995. The sports hall was built especially for the Austrian-Hungarian World Championship in ‘95.

Zvezda may surprise awayThe final will be a special match also for the referees. The German referee couple, Bernd Ulrich and Frank Lemme, will quit their international career after the Olympics in Beijing and this match might be their last big final on a club level.

Everything is arranged for the celebration of the winner; ceremony, confetti… But who will win?

By looking at the men’s final this season, it is hard to say anything. Both sides have a lot of international experience and the decision may depend on little things, small mistakes in offence, the better goalkeepers.

Different tactical approach can be expected. Hypo will play quick handball, while Zvezda will play the typical Russian school of powerful handball with tall backcourt players and pivots.

It will also be the duel of two great playmakers: Sun Oh vs. Irina Poltoratskaya. On Saturday evening at about 18:45 we will know more.

TEXT: Björn Pazen