Three is the lucky number - but for whom?Article
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SEMI-FINAL PREVIEW: History repeating for Kiel and Veszprem who face each other for the third consecutive year in Cologne.

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Three is the lucky number - but for whom?

Can THW Kiel make it to a Men’s EHF Champions League final for the seventh time or can MVM Veszprem go one step better than last year and win? These are the major questions ahead of the duel of two powerhouses with a long common history.


THW Kiel (GER) vs MVM Veszprem (HUN)

Saturday 28 May, 18:00 hrs (local time), live on from 17:45

Three is the magic number in the second semi-final of the VELUX EHF FINAL4 2016.

That is the number of former THW Kiel players who are now in MVM Veszprem’s squad - Aron Palmarsson, Christian Zeitz and Momir Ilic.

This semi-final is the third time this season the teams will meet in the VELUX EHF Champions League after home wins in the respective group phase matches against each other.

For the third time in a row the German and the Hungarian record championship winners line-up against each other in a semi-final of the VELUX EHF FINAL4, with one win for each team before; Kiel made it to the final in 2014 and then Veszprem won through at the last edition in 2015.

If the Hungarian side win, it would mean their third Men’s EHF Champions League final in history after 2002 (defeated by SC Magdeburg, coached that time by Alfred Gislason) and 2015, where they lost against FC Barcelona.

Three-time Champions League winner, Dominik Klein is aiming for a golden farewell from Kiel. He is the last player of the current THW squad who was part of all of their trophies before in 2007, 2010 and 2012, and will leave to join Men’s EHF Cup finalist HBC Nantes, also leaving will be Joan Canellas, who will transfer to HC Vardar.

Veszprem’s left back Ilic can win his third trophy too but he can also become the VELUX EHF Champions League top scorer for the third straight time. However, he will need a little miracle as currently sitting on top in the scoring charts is PSG’s Mikkel Hansen, ahead by 16 goals (121 vs 105).

“Veszprem are the favourites, we are the underdogs of the whole event,” said THW Kiel Coach Gislason ahead of the final weekend. Whilst the coach is being humble he is also being realistic, with a long list of injuries in mind. Rene Toft Hansen will definitely miss the VELUX EHF FINAL4; Steffen Weinhold could return and be the lucky joker, while Patrick Wiencek and Christian Dissinger have just returned from long-term injuries.

For Veszprem, former THW right back Christian Zeitz is out due to shoulder problems.

Kiel had a roller-coaster ride in the group phase, when they won just five matches and suffered their first home defeat for more than four years, against PSG. In the last 16, they were close to elimination against MOL-Pick Szeged, but turned the tide at home and then they rose like a phoenix from the flames against defending champions FC Barcelona Lassa with a 29:24 home win in the first leg of the quarter-finals providing the base for an aggregate 59:57 quarter-final win and their sixth participation at edition seven of the VELUX EHF FINAL4.

After finishing runners-ups of group A in the group phase Veszprem had less problems in the knock-out stages, winning three of their four matches, including two in the last 16 against HC Motor Zaporozhye and the first leg of the quarter-finals away one in Skopje against HC Vardar 29:26 to leave the Macedonians behind and take the tie 59:56.


The biggest news from the 2015 and 2016 SEHA League champions in the VELUX EHF Champions League season had been the sacking of Coach Carlos Antonio Ortega right after the first Champions League match - a draw against Plock back in September.

His successor, and former assistant Javier Sabate, now has the great chance to extend the series of Spanish coaches in EHF Champions League finals.

While Veszprem still wait for their first title in this competition, the VELUX EHF Champions League is the last chance for Kiel to avoid a season without any title for the first time in 13 years after missing trophies in the German Bundesliga and the German Cup.

If the German side win it would represent the seventh time they have appeared in the final of the elite men’s European club handball tournament.

TEXT: Bjorn Pazen/amc