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25.09.2007, 09:15
CL: clash of top leagues
«Go back »Print Version


Read the analysis of Björn Pazen who compares the Spanish Liga Asobal with German Toyota-Bundesliga to get an answer for a much debated issue.

» »2007-08 Men's CL
»Group Matches
»
 

CL: clash of top leagues

Moments full of tension: Flensburg goalkeeper saves last second penalty shot of ValladolidEHF Champions League was launched in the year 1993. In the past 14 years, the winner came from Spain ten times – eight times in a row between 1994 and 2001. But in the last season, this dominance was broken by German teams. The first time ever, two German teams metin the final. THW Kiel won against SG Flensburg-Handewitt, which was the second time ever a German team won the Champions League (after SC Magdeburg in 2002).

In the forthcoming season four German teams have the chance to win the title again – but also four teams from Spain. Experts say that the probability is very high that one of these eight clubs will lift the trophy in April 2008.

It was always debated which league is the better: the Spanish Liga Asobal or the German Toyota-Bundesliga. According to most sources, the German is the better one when you compare all the teams, while Liga Asobal is better when you look at the four top teams. In Spain there’s a wider gap between those four teams and the rest.

“It’s hard to compare. But when Germany’s top four teams meet each other there’s no big difference. They are all world class,” said Icelandic international Olafur Stefansson, who played in Germany and in Spain as well.

The players have other things to talk about, but the comparison is a long debateBut when you take a look at last season, something has changed: “Normally” the German teams lost all theirdirect encounters against Spanish teams, but this has now changed: Flensburg have beaten Barcelona, Valladolid, while Kiel knocked out Portland San Antonio – there had never been so many victories of German teams against the Spanish ones before.

A brief look in history tells us important things: since the start of the knock out matches in the season 1996/1997, Germany has always been the unlucky. There had been eight duels between Bundesliga and Asobal sides – all eight were won by Spanish teams before last season.

FC Barcelona was usually the end of all German hopes: five “meetings”, three victories against Kiel, one against Lemgo and Magdeburg.

The best German season before the last one was 2004. For the first time ever two German teams got to the semi-final. Flensburg played (and won) against Magdeburg, but lost the finals – no, not against a Spanish team – against the Slovenian Celje.

Barcelona suffered last season against FlensburgBefore the last successful season, there were only three German finalists: Magdeburg won against the Hungarian Veszprém in 2002, Kiel lost very unluckily against Barcelona in 2000, while Flensburg lost against Celje in 2004.

Year 2007 saw three German teams in the quarterfinal, but Gummersbach went out against Valladolid. Kiel won the semi-final against Portland, while Flensburg against Valladolid.

In the 2007/08 season that starts this Wednesday, there will be one “clash of titans” already on the first match day: the two-times finalist, Flensburg, will play against two-times finalist (one victory) Ciudad Real. Apart from this game, there’s no match between the two strongest leagues in the first group phase.

Statistics of the last 14 seasons:

 
Germany vs Spain / winner of Champions League

1993/94: SG Wallau-Massenheim knocked out in the final group phase / winner: Teka Santander (Spain)

1994/95: THW Kiel knocked out in the final group phase / winner: Irun Bidasoa (Spain)

1995/96: THW Kiel knocked out in the final group phase / winner: FC Barcelona (Spain)

1996/97: THW Kiel loses semi-finals against Badel Zagreb (Croatia) / winner: FC Barcelona (Spain)

1
997/98: TBV Lemgo loses semi-finals against FC Barcelona (Spain) / winner: FC Barcelona (Spain)

1998/99: THW Kiel loses quarterfinals against Portland San Antonio (Spain) / winner: FC Barcelona (Spain)

1999/2000: THW Kiel loses finals against FC Barcelona (Spain) / winner: FC Barcelona (Spain)

2000/01: THW Kiel loses semi-finals against FC Barcelona (Spain) / winner: Portland San Antonio (Spain)

2001/02: SC Magdeburg wins finals against Fotex Veszprém (Hungary) / winner: SC Magdeburg (Germany)

2002/03 (first time with two German teams): SC Magdeburg loses quarterfinals against Portland San Antonio (Spain), THW Kiel loses quarterfinals against Brule Ljubljana (Slovenian) / winner: Montpellier (France)

2003/04 (first time three German teams): SG Flensburg–Handewitt loses finals against Celje (Slovenia), SC Magdeburg loses semi-finals against Flensburg, TBV Lemgo loses quarterfinals against Celje / winner: Pivovarna Lasko Celje (Slovenia)

2004/05: all three German clubs lose their quarterfinals - THW Kiel against FC Barcelona (Spain), SG Flensburg against Montpellier (France), TBV Lemgo against Celje (Slovenia) / winner: FC Barcelona (Spain)

2005/06: SG Flensburg-Handewitt loses semi-finals against Ciudad Real (Spain), THW Kiel loses quarterfinals against Flensburg, SC Magdeburg loses quarterfinals against FC Barcelona (Spain) / winner: Ciudad Real (Spain)

2006/2007: first ever all-German final: THW Kiel wins against SG Flensburg, VfL Gummersbach loses quarterfinals against Valladolid (Spain) / winner: THW Kiel (Germany)


TEXT: Björn Pazen
 
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