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EHF Champions League Final 4 – Preview and Prediction
The pinnacle of the 62nd edition of the premier handball club competition in Europe takes place on 18/19 June. The massive 20 000-seat Lanxess Arena in Cologne has been the main venue of the Final 4 since 2010 and this year will be no different. Compared to last year´s edition only the reigning champion Barcelona is present and will face fierce competition as Veszprem, Kielce and Kiel all have the potential to dethrone them.
Telekom Veszprem – Vive Kielce (18 June 2022, 15:15 CET)
In the first semi-final we will have a chance to see all the best that Hungarian and Polish club handball have to offer at the moment. Veszprem and their fans have been dreaming about winning the title for quite some time and this year will be another excellent opportunity. The mighty Hungarian team has never won the Champions League. They finished as runners-up four times including 2016, which is a year that still haunts them.
Six years ago everyone in Hungary was already celebrating when Veszprem took a nine-goal lead in the middle of the second half in the final but Kielce would not go away and miraculously forced overtime. The game went all the way to a penalty shootout and the Hungarians chocked clearly affected by the extraordinary comeback. This year they face the same team but in the semi-final. It would be a fairytale story if they got their revenge but they already managed to eliminate the Polish team in the semis of 2019 when they suffered a heartbreaking loss in the final to Vardar.
Kielce´s dramatic win over Veszprem in 2016 enabled them to win their first and only Champions League title ever and was also their sole appearance in the final of this competition. This year they are looking very strong with the legendary Talant Dujshebaev at the helm, but if he wants to make it to the final, he will have to outsmart Veszprem´s former scoring machine Momir Ilić. He now serves as the coach after he played in the 2016 final so there is no doubt he will have special motives against Kielce.
Prediction: Game Lines – Veszprem to Win
Odds and bookmaker: 1.90 at bet365
THW Kiel – Barcelona (18 June 2022, 18:00 CET)
The two most decorated handball teams will have to clash before the final game which gives a prime opportunity to either Kielce or Veszprem to win the title. The defending champions Barcelona finally ended their long drought last year after they crushed Aalborg in the final. It was their first Champions League title since 2015 and also their tenth overall.
This year the competition will be much tougher. They will be up against it immediately in the semis as the German heavyweights Kiel have two of the best players in the world in Domagoj Duvnjak and Sander Sagosen and will be extremely difficult to beat. Interestingly, Kiel won its last title two years ago when they faced Barca in the final. The Germans had too much in their locker and controlled the game from start to finish winning 33:28. This year Barcelona is looking as the stronger and more stable team with new reinforcements but Kiel´s coach and a former player of both Barca and Kiel, Filip Jicha, certainly has his own plans.
These two famous sides have a long history but recently Barca has been the superior team. Even though Kiel should be feeling comfortable playing at “home”, the Spanish team was impressive against Flensburg in the quarter-final and enters the game as a clear favourite led by the tournament´s top scorer – the unstoppable French shooter Dika Mem.
Prediction: Game Lines – Barcelona to Win
Odds and bookmaker: 1.55 at bet365
Many people think Kielce is the main threat to Barcelona but we disagree. They have been stellar so far and haven´t suffered a single home loss but everyone is forgetting about the power of Veszprem. We think we will have a repeat of 2015 final when Barcelona took down the Hungarian team with 28:23. Winning the Champions League has become Veszprem´s obsession but in our opinion, they will have to wait for at least one more year to finally reach the top.
Prediction: To Win Outright – Barcelona
Odds and bookmaker: 2.20 at bet365
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