10 talking points after the 10th EHF FINAL4Article
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TALKING POINTS: A great season in the VELUX EHF Champions League has come to an end after a thrilling weekend in Cologne. It was the 10th anniversary of the EHF FINAL4 and it truly was a special edition
»2018-19 Men's News

10 talking points after the 10th EHF FINAL4

HC Vardar are the winners of the VELUX EHF Champions League 2018/2019, after claiming their second title. Their journey to the trophy at the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in Cologne was magnificent and a joy to witness. Congratulations Vardar!

Here are the last 10 talking points of the season, symbolising the 10-year anniversary of the FINAL4 in Cologne. 

10 is the number

There could have been no better way to finish the 10th anniversary of the VELUX EHF FINAL4 than having player number 10 score the trophy-winning goal.

HC Vardar’s Latvian international Dainis Kristopans, who wears the number 10 shirt, secured the decisive goal in the 27:24 victory.

Kristopans had a great season, tallying 94 goals in the competition. Only Kielce’s Alex Dujshebaev scored more – 99 – and he claimed the Champions League 2018/19 top scorer trophy, becoming the first Spaniard ever to do so.

The Croatians make history

Croatians Ivan Cupic and Igor Karacic made history with HC Vardar this weekend. Karacic was the first Croatian awarded the VELUX EHF FINAL4 2019 MVP title.

Meanwhile, Cupic is the first player to claim the trophy three times at the VELUX EHF FINAL4. He previously took the title with Kielce in 2016 and Vardar 2017.

Parrondo in the history books

HC Vardar’s coach, Roberto Garcia Parrondo, won the Champions League title for his first time as a coach. He also took the title two times as a player with BM Ciudad Real, in 2008 and 2009.

Parrondo is only the second person to win the Champions League as both a player and a coach, joining fellow Spaniard Talant Dujshebaev. 

Magnificent turnaround 

Vardar’s victory is also interesting because of their status in the semi-final against Barça Lassa. 

Vardar were seven goals behind at half-time, 9:16, before turning the tide and winning 29:27. The score at half-time was the biggest ever in a semi-final at any men’s EHF FINAL4.

Vardar join Barcelona and Kiel

HC Vardar made history two years ago by winning their maiden EHF Champions League title, as they were the first Macedonian side to take the title in Europe’s top competition. Winning it again in 2019, Vardar became only the third team to raise the trophy at the EHF FINAL4 in Cologne twice.

Only THW Kiel (2010 and 2012) and Barça (2011 and 2015), have achieved that in the 10-year history of the event in Cologne.

No ‘fourth time’s a charm’

Telekom Veszprém HC are likely to have nightmares returning from Cologne. This was the fourth time the Hungarian side played the final – and the fourth time they lost.

Veszprém also reached the final in 2002, 2015 and 2016 – and they did not manage to change their fortunes in 2019.

Goal record for the bronze

The bronze-medal match where Barça Lassa beat PGE Vive Kielce 40:35 was a thriller – and saw the teams make history.

Never before have fans at the EHF FINAL4 in Cologne seen 75 goals in regular time of one match. This was also the first time in history that a team scored 40 goals in 60 minutes at the EHF FINAL4.

The previous record for a high-scoring game in the EHF FINAL4 was in 2013 – 72 goals in the semi-final between THW Kiel and HSV Hamburg, 39:33.

First time Kielce leave empty handed

PGE Vive Kielce are the only team returning from the EHF FINAL4 in Cologne empty handed – and they do it for the first time, after losing the bronze-medal match against Barça 35:40.

Kielce had never lost a 3/4 placement match in Cologne before. They won the bronze medal in 2013 (31:30 against THW Kiel) and 2015 (28:26 against Kiel).

It’s all for the fans

Without the supporters, the EHF FINAL4 event in Cologne would not be the same. The fans have been amazing all season and did not disappoint when they were most needed.

Did the fans predict the title?

The VELUX EHF Champions League All-star Team 2018/19 was unveiled before the first match of the EHF FINAL4 in Cologne. Interestingly, the soon-to-be champions dominated the team voted for by the fans.

Parrondo was voted the best coach and four of his players were also named in the team: goalkeeper Dejan Milosavljev, left wing Timur Dibirov, right back Dainis Kristopans and right wing Ivan Cupic. 

Dibirov and Cupic appeared in the All-star Team for the second time. Dibirov was voted the best left wing in the 2013/14 season and Cupic was the 2012/13 All-star right wing.

TEXT: Andri Yrkill Valsson / cg