Rock-solid holders take on resurrected GyőrArticle
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FINAL4 SEMI-FINAL PREVIEW: The two best teams of the 2013/14 season lock horns in the first semi-final and it is almost impossible to tell who will make it to the final.

Rock-solid holders take on resurrected Győr

Only one of either Győri Audi ETO KC or Buducnost - two teams with large-scale success in the Women’s EHF Champions League – will progress through to the final after they were drawn against each other in the first semi-final of the Women’s EHF FINAL4.

Montenegrin side Buducnost are the title holders and Dragan Adzic’s side will meet the once again injury-hit Győr from Hungary, but with two-day tournament taking place in Budapest, home soil could prove to be a deciding factor in this clash of giants.

Women’s EHF FINAL4 Semi-final

Buducnost (MNE) vs. Győri Audi ETO KC (HUN)
Saturday 7 May, 15:15 (local time), live on

It’s been five years since Győr and Buducnost let a different team outside of their two-team cartel lift the most prestigious trophy in women’s club handball.

After Norwegian side Larvik beat the Spanish team Itxako Reyno De Navarra, led by Coach Ambros Martín, to conquer the throne in 2011 in the old two-legged final format, Buducnost and Győr have the title twice each.

The Montenegrin outfit started the run with victory in 2012, followed by back-to-back Hungarian victories before Adzic’s squad reclaimed the title last season (2014/15).

As far as contemporary women’s handball is concerned, the clash of these two European heavyweights is nothing short of handball history. This match has everything the women’s game has to offer; individual brilliance of top players, strong defending from both sides and cunning tactics from some of the best coaches in the sport – male or female.

The rock-solid title holder
The defending champions have been enjoying an excellent campaign, having lost just one match (in their opening Main Round game away at Győr) and they reach the climax of the 2015/16 season as heavy favourites to retain their title.

The devastating artillery of the Montenegrin outfit terrorised defences all over the continent as Cristina Neagu and Katarina Bulatovic, with a combined 158 goals to date, have stunned opponents.

However, trademark tough defending has remained the key factor of Buducnost’s game and backed by the magnificent Marta Zderic, the Podgorica ladies have no opponent to fear. Bulatovic is on the verge of making history as, having already won the trophy with three different clubs, she can be the third female player to become a five-time Women’s EHF Champions League winner.

The resurrected challenger
The curse of injuries is still haunting Ambros Martín, now in charge of Győr, but despite this they have been consistently good.

Nycke Groot is in the form of her life - the Dutch middle back has been excellent all year, just like the jolly Norwegian superstar, Heidi Löke and Hungarian Anikó Kovacsics.

Eduarda Amorim, focus of so much attention from her home country Brazil ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, has needed time to fully recover from her serious knee injury but the South American hotshot is finally back at her best and in big news for the Hungarian fans, superstar Anita Görbicz made her much-needed comeback in the quarter-finals.

Győr need time to overcome their latest wave of injuries and will start the semi-final against Buducnost without former Women’s EHF Champions League top scorer Zsuzsa Tomori and Hungarian international right-wing Bernadett Bognar-Bodi, but Martín’s team is up and running.

As long as Kari Aalvik Grimsbø remains as good as she has been all year and the Győr defence stays compact the crowd at the FINAL4, heavily supporting the ‘home’ side will have much to celebrate.

Little stumbling, few errors from both sides
Both teams had hiccups, though. Győr’s lacklustre home performance against Danish side FC Midtjylland resulted in the heaviest home defeat at the Audi Arena while the unusually blunt Buducnost allowed CSM Bucuresti to steal a point from their notoriously tough Moraca hall in Podgorica, in the Main Round.

And of course, they beat each other.

In Győr it was the home side that came up with a defensive masterpiece as they allowed the struggling visitors just 20 goals.

At the Moraca the outstanding performance of Dragana Cvijic and a better final 10 minutes run gave Buducnost the edge over Győr (25:22).

It comes as no surprise that he two teams’ overall performances are very similar.

Buducnost added 61 goals to their Main Round tally and finished just ahead of Győr with 325 goals, compared to the Hungarians’ 323 and the traditionally strong Montenegrin defence conceded less, too: 260 as opposed to Győr’s 271.

It is impossible to tell, who will emerge as winners.

The two best teams of the 2013/14 season lock horns in the first semi-final and one of them will not make it to the final. They know each other very well, there is little room for surprises but one thing is certain: top handball action will be guaranteed in Budapest.

TEXT: Bence Mártha / amc