Clash of giants: the best attack takes on the best defence in the finalArticle
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FINAL PREVIEW: Vardar broke the curse and reached their first Champions League final but can they pull off yet another offensive masterpiece against the notorious Györ defence?

Clash of giants: the best attack takes on the best defence in the final

The ultimate game of the Women's EHF Champions League has come and the two best teams of the competition deservedly made it to the final. Ambros Martín’s Györ take on Irina Dibirova’s Vardar in a clash that promises to be the apex of the season as the best defence will face the best offence.

  • The team with the most goals scored (Vardar) meet the team with the least goals conceded (Györ) in the final of the TIPPMIX EHF FINAL4.
  • All three previous FINAL4s saw a goalkeeper voted to be MVP and there is a good chance the tendency will continue.
  • The teams’ first ever clash in the FINAL4 will be the final of 2017.

Györi Audi ETO KC (HUN) vs HC Vardar (MKD)
Sunday, 7 May, 17:45 hours local time, live on

The two European powerhouses are FINAL4 veterans, however, their first ever clash in the Budapest event will be this year’s final. Since the introduction of the new competition format the 2014 champions Györ have reached the final three times while their Macedonian counterpart claimed the place in the ultimate clash of the Women’s EHF Champions League for the first time in their short history.

Both teams showed their biggest strengths in the semi-finals. Ambros Martín’s side, backed by the magnificent Kari Aalvik Grimsbø, pulled off a defensive masterpiece against their arch-rivals Buducnost, while the Skopje outfit (who scored the most goals in the competition before the FINAL4) tore the title holders’ defence apart with a brilliant show of attacking potential.

"We will play as good as we can. We will analyse Győr and try to find out some special things on them. It will be really special for me to play against them because I won my first Champions League trophy there," said Vardar's playmaker Andrea Lekic, who celebrated the trophy with Györ in 2013 in the last edition of the home-and-away final.

Another goalkeeper as MVP?

Based on the above it may seem obvious that the battle of Györ’s defence with Vardar’s attackers will decide but leaving some important features out of consideration is not wise before the biggest game of the season.

Such as Györ’s attacking skills spearheaded by Anita Görbicz, who scored nine goals in the semi-final, or Vardar’s ability to make the most of Amandine Leynaud’s outstanding performance in goal.

"We played very well against Buducnost and this is the way to win the FINAL4. Our defence and our goalkeeper were fantastic. We just focus on ourselves before the final and I believe our hard work will pay off," Görbicz added.

Speaking of goalkeepers Katalin Pálinger, ex-goalie of Györi ETO, now vice president of the Hungarian Handball Federation, believes the team with the best goalkeeping performance will win the title.

Pálinger’s claim is well founded, all MVPs of the competition have been goalkeepers and judging by the performances of Grimsbø and Leynaud there is a good chance the tendency will continue in 2017.

There is a huge amount of players who can decide the final, such as current top scorer Andrea Penezic or ex-Györ winger Jovanka Radicevic from Vardar while the Hungarian side’s backline of Nora Mørk, Nycke Groot and Eduarda Amorim can work havoc upon any defence.

The two heavyweights have never locked horns in the FINAL4, but they met in the knockout stage two years ago, when the Macedonian team eliminated Györ in the quarter-final. Last season they clashed in the group stage, Györ won both outings.

Vardar will enter the final game also with Tatiana Kmyrova. The Russian right back received a direct disqualification at the end of the first half of the Saturday's semi-final. After taking reference to the referee's report and a look at the situation by video footage, the EHF has decided there are no further procedures and the player is eligible to participate in the final.

TEXT: Bence Mártha / br