Deserving has got nothing to do with itArticle
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ehfTV commentator Tom O'Brannagáin looks back at the weekend's action and Sunday's Match of the Week which, for 50 minutes, looked like an upset was on the cards

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Deserving has got nothing to do with it

It was a pyrrhic victory for Flensburg when it was all said and done. They deserved better, but as my father used to say to me “deserving has got nothing to do with it”.

If handball has taught us anything in the knockout stages it is twofold.

1. There is no lead good enough to be absolutely 100% certain that you will go through


2. You must play for the whole 60 minutes of a match

Someone said to me at the end of the Hamburg vs Flensburg match that they lost the tie in Flensburg and there is a certain amount of truth in that. However, on reflection, they lost it in the 50th minute of the game in the O2 World.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it is a very unforgiving sport. But for a ball hitting a post from Glandorf the result could have been so different.

Firstly, let me say that the winning team is always the better team over two legs and congratulations to Hamburg. But for 50 minutes they were outfought and outthought, physically and tactically. Flensburg deserved better.

But deserving has nothing to do with it and a handball game lasts for 60 minutes not 50. When Hamburg had something to lose (their six goal lead) they crumbled, and then at seven goals up Flensburg (who were at this stage qualified for VEUX EHFFINAL4) had something to lose, they no longer played with freedom, and the tie turned again, in favour of Hamburg.

Looking across the entire quarter-finals of the last two weekends, Madrid found to their cost that 5 goals just wasn’t enough of a lead and yet in the return leg as we approached the final moments they almost turned certain defeat into an improbable victory. Barcelona realising they had something to lose almost crumbled, but in the end Madrid couldn’t keep going for 60 minutes.

Veszprém found to their cost against Kiel that you must play to the final buzzer and regardless of how well they played for 50 minutes in both games, Kiel played better for longer.

I just want to say a huge thanks for all the players and coaches of the Champions League for making the season so far, so memorable; for putting their bodies  on the line to bring us the greatest quality sporting competition in the world.

At the end of the day, you always are where you deserve to be. So in my mind, Kiel, Barcelona, Kielce and Hamburg deserve to be at the VELUX EHF FINAL4 as results don’t lie.

But they don’t always tell the full story, the “what –ifs” and “if-only”  and there will be many a tale told in bars across Madrid, Veszprem and Flensburg of how they deserved better and what might have been.

120 minutes heart and soul, with some experience and tactical awareness thrown in, wins games for you in knockout handball.

Deserving has got nothing to do with it.

TEXT: Tom O'Brannagáin, ehfTV commentator