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29.05.2015, 22:50
Veszprém look for redemption
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FINAL4 PREVIEW: Can Kiel end Veszprém’s dream again? The German and Hungarian powerhouses meet for their second consecutive semi-final, with Veszprém hoping for a different outcome.
 

Veszprém look for redemption

Which series will continue and which will come to an end? These are the major questions prior to the second semi-final of the VELUX EHF FINAL4 2015.

THW Kiel (GER) vs. MKB-MVM Veszprém (HUN)
Saturday 30 May, 18:00 hrs local time, live on ehfTV

In the previous two seasons, THW Kiel were the end of all of MKB-MVM Veszprém’s hopes and dreams. 

In 2013 the three-time EHF Champions League winners eliminated the Hungarian side in two thrilling quarter-finals (32:31, 29:28). In 2014 Veszprém lost the semi-final in Cologne, 26:29. Kiel have won the last four duels against the Hungarians. 

Veszprém have been waiting for their next EHF Champions League Final for 13 years, after they were defeated by current THW coach Alfred Gislason and SC Magdeburg in the 2002 final.

On the other hand, Kiel have never lost a match in Cologne against a Spanish coach, nor do they make a habit of losing decisive matches in Cologne against non-German teams (the only exception was the bronze medal match against Kielce in 2013). 

2015 is the fifth time THW are part of the VELUX EHF FINAL4, while Veszprém have made to the final destination for the second consecutive time.

The 2014/15 season

Surprisingly, THW have had a weaker season when compared with their semi opponent – they lost two matches (the first group match in Zagreb and the first quarter-final against Szeged). 

On the other hand, Carlos Ortega’s team only lost once in this international season – on German ground, against Rhein-Neckar Löwen.

While Veszprém have already defended their Hungarian title in the final series against Szeged, Kiel are the only of the four VELUX EHF FINAL4 participants still waiting to contest their next domestic trophy. They are currently two points ahead of Rhein-Neckar Löwen on top of the Bundesliga ranking and are aiming for their 20th title.

Trading places

Two Veszprém players once wore the THW jersey: 2013/14 EHF Champions League top scorer Momir Ilic (101 goals this season mean he is again the main contender for the golden ball), and Christian Zeitz, one of four players in Cologne who was in the Kiel squad for all three of their titles. 

From next season, Aron Palmarsson will join this duo in Veszprém. 

On the opposite side, Kiel’s right back Marko Vujin has previously played for Veszprém. 

Both sides have to replace injured key players: On Veszprém’s side Carlos Ruesga is out, while Johan Sjöstrand and Dominik Klein are unable to play for Kiel. 

Kiel have replaced Sjöstrand with Norwegian Steinar Ege, who will be the oldest ever VELUX EHF FINAL4 participant at the age of 43 years.

While Veszprém have their sixth EHF Champions League semi-final ahead, Kiel have reached this stage of the competition for the eleventh time. 

“Veszprém represent high quality. It is a 50:50 match,” says Gislason, who is aiming for his fourth individual EHF Champions League trophy after winning in 2002, 2010 and 2012. 

If Veszprém finish the weekend with the trophy, Ortega will become the second person ever to win the EHF Champions League as both a player (six times with Barcelona) and a coach. Kielce coach Talant Dujshebaev is currently the only one who has achieved this feat.


TEXT: Björn Pazen / cg
 
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