Preview for the first leg of the VELUX EHF Champions League Quarter-finalsArticle
«Go back

Five nations involved – at least one Spanish and German team each will travel to Cologne

»EHF CL Channel »2012-13 Men's News

Preview for the first leg of the VELUX EHF Champions League Quarter-finals

Eight teams from five nations, eight dreams of reaching the final destination: the VELUX EHF FINAL4, on 1 and 2 June in the LANXESS Arena in Cologne.

The composition of the quarter-finals brings about some highly thrilling fixtures.

One thing is sure, history will repeat itself, one Spanish and at least one German team will make it to Cologne, just like all previous VELUX EHF FINAL4 tournaments.

At least one debutant will also be part of the event, as Kielce and HC Metalurg face in the quarter-finals, neither side have been this far in the competition before.

But the number of debutants could potentially rise to three, if Veszprem and Flensburg qualify for club handball's flagship event.

All four pairings have already met this season, either in domestic competition or in Europe and in case of Hamburg vs Flensburg, it will even be the sixth and seventh meetings of the season.

BM Atlético Madrid (ESP) vs. FC Barcelona Intersport (ESP)
20.04.2013 19:00 hrs. local time
(Second leg 27.04.2013, 19:00 hrs. local time)

Will Madrid be able to cause Barcelona’s first defeat of the season in Spain?

The only match Barcelona have lost all season was the away encounter at Berlin in the Group D.

In all domestic competitions, Barca have left the court smiling, 25 victories in 25 league matches is the current and impressive result of the record EHF Champions League winners, who are already ahead seven points of Atlético.

Madrid are the only team to have reached Cologne on all four occasions, but have yet to raise the trophy there, losing the last two finals against Barcelona (2011) and Kiel (2012).

Barcelona have been at the VELUX EHF FINAL4 two times, they missed the final tournament as defending champions last season after their elimination by AG Kobenhavn in the quarter-finals.

Whenever Barca do make it to Cologne, they reach the final. In 2010 they were defeated by Kiel but went one step further the following season in beating Madrid.

With the likes of Barcelonas’s Arpad Sterbik and Siarhei Rutenka having previously played for the opposition, the duel promises to be even more emotional. 

The sides have had a contrasting journey to this stage. Barcelona only lost one match on their way to winning Group D and won both Last 16 matches against Bjerringbro easily.

While Madrid had a very average five victories and five defeats after the Group Phase, but then managed to cause an upset against Füchse Berlin in the closest of all Last 16 matches and they will be looking to do the same against their domestic rivals.

HC Metalurg (MKD) vs. KS Vive Targi Kielce (POL)
Sunday, 17:00 hrs. local time
(Second leg 28.04.2013, 17:00 hrs. local time)

Will it be Poland or FYR Macedonia celebrating their first ever VELUX EHF FINAL4 participant?

This question will be answered in two duels, which promise to be extremely close. In the Group phase, the Polish champions beat Metalurg twice, but that counts for very little at this stage.

“Now we start at zero,” said Kielce coach Bogdan Wenta, who just extended his contract with the Polish club.

HC Metalurg have just finished third in the SEHA league after losing the re-match of last season’s final against Vardar Skopje in the semi-final, but then beat Brest (Belarus) for bronze.

Meanwhile, Kielce boosted their confidence by winning the Polish Cup for the tenth time after a 28:27 victory in the final against Wisla Plock and right wing Ivan Cupic is back on track after suffering a shoulder injury during the World Championship.

Both arenas were rapidly sold-out for the two legs as all spectators want to be part of this history in the making.

Kielce and Metalurg can count on one player each who has already gone all the way in the competition and the two players did it together in the same team.

Renato Vugrinec (Metalurg) and Uros Zorman (Kielce) won the trophy in 2004 with RK Celje, Zorman can boast one more title, as he did it again with Ciudad Real.

THW Kiel (GER) vs. MKB Veszprém KC (HUN)
Sunday, 17:15 hrs. local time
(Second leg 27.04.2013, 16:00 hrs. local time)

Both teams are on top of their leagues, both teams have just won their domestic cups and both are eagerly expecting the quarter-finals.

Both teams have curses to break, Veszprém have yet to reach the VELUX EHF FINAL4 and THW want to be the first defending champions to reach Cologne.

The Germans have been hit hard by the injury of right back Christian Zeitz in the cup semi-final vs Melsungen. The German international broke his hand and is out for the rest of the season.

The teams met in the Group Phase and shared the spoils with a home win each.

However, the results were very contrasting. A narrow 31:30 win for Veszprém at home was overshadowed by Kiel, who showed their incredible strength at home with a 31:20 win.

Kiel already have three EHF Champions League trophies on their account (2007, 2010, 2012), Veszprém made it once to the final in 2002, but failed against German side SC Magdeburg, at that time coached by current THW coach Alfred Gislason.

Veszprém have lost only one game in the competition this season, the previously mentioned game at Kiel, while Kiel have not been their usual dominant self, with three away defeats to their name, against Celje, Veszprem and Chekhovskie Medvedi.

SG Flensburg-Handewitt (GER) vs. HSV Hamburg (GER)
Sunday, 21.04.2013 18:45 hrs. local time
(Second leg 28.04.2013, 18:30 hrs. local time)

Sunday will see the third duel of both teams in only 12 days: After Flensburg and Hamburg drew in the league, the German cup semi-final ended with a draw after 60 minutes too, but then Flensburg grabbed victory after extra-time.

Nothing can separate these two clubs in recent history, with each team winning twelve games and five matches ending with a draw since 2002.

In the 2007/08 EHF Champions League season, the teams faced in the quarter-final, which ended in a one goal aggregate victory for Hamburg.

This Northern Germany derby is arguably the most difficult of all to call a winner, earlier in the season both won their home matches in Group A, even by the same number of goals.

Both German sides had eliminated Slovenian teams in the Last 16: Hamburg defeated Celje 66:60 and Flensburg won 55:50 against Velenje.

TEXT: Björn Pazen / cor