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08.06.2015, 17:10
National champions of Europe - men part 1: Central
«Go back »Print Version


FEATURE: Review of the national leagues in Europe. The first part of the series takes a closer look at Germany, Hungary, Austria, Slovakia, Slovenia, Czech Republic and Poland

»EHF CL Channel »2014-15 Men's News
»
 

National champions of Europe - men part 1: Central

The domestic leagues have come to an end and we now approach the draws of the 2015/16 European season, starting with the VELUX EHF Champions League draw on 26 June. In six parts, the spotlight is shone on each of the national champions and their path to glory. The first part is dedicated to teams from Germany, Hungary, Austria, Slovakia, Slovenia, Czech Republic and Poland.

Germany – THW Kiel

Like in 2014, the the German championship was decided in the final round. But in contrast to one year before, it was not goal difference needed to separate THW Kiel and Rhein-Neckar Löwen. In the end, Kiel were two points and more than 20 goals ahead of the Löwen squad, handing them their 20th title.

Both sides were more than ten points clear of third ranked SG Flensburg-Handewitt, 2014 VELUX EHF Champions League winner.

The squad for the next season will change with both goalkeepers Johan Sjöstand and Andreas Palicka leaving, replaced by Löwen keeper Niklas Landin, again awarded best goalkeeper of the season. In addition, Rasmus Lauge and Aron Palmarsson will leave a gap in the back court.

Hungary - MKB-MVM Veszprém

VELUX EHF FINAL4 participants MKB-MVM Veszprém won the league for the 23rd time, the eighth time in a row, after it was the same old story in the Hungarian championship.

After reaching the quarter-finals in Europe’s premier club competition MOL-Pick Szeged took one step forward while their domestic arch-rivals took two and swept them aside, winning all six games between the sides in the 2014/15 season.

Veszprém opted to compete in the regional SEHA League instead of the regular season of the Hungarian championship and only joined the domestic playoff which they won with a flawless performance winning the Hungarian Cup on the run as well.

The finals between Veszprém and Szeged brought about no surprises as the to-be Champions League finalist took the first match comfortably 29:23 at home before wrapping the title up in Szeged.

Austria - ALPLA HC Hard

For the fourth straight time ALPLA HC Hard have been crowned champions in Austria. The concluding event of the Handball Liga Austria season saw two teams from the lake Constance region battle it out for the title. Markus Burger saw his team come out on top twice (30:26 and 24:20) in the set of finals against Bregenz Handball.

“It is an incredible feeling to be on top again. Despite the clear results, Bregenz were a really a tough opponent, but make no mistake we fully deserved to win this title,” commented Burger.

After a great performance on home court, Hard did not leave people guessing who would lift the trophy. This was made clear as they silenced the 2,000 spectators in Bregenz with an 11:4 run in the second leg of the final. More than 1,000 fans gathered to celebrate the win outside their arena in Hard.

Slovakia - Tatran Presov

Presov were once again successful in the domestic competitions, winning the Slovakian Extraliga for the 11th time and their ninth in a row together with another Slovakian cup triumph.

With former national team coach in charge, Peter Dávid, Presov lost a domestic game for the first time in two years, losing the second semi-final tie against MSK Povazska Bystrica, ending their 79-game unbeaten streak.

Nevertheless, Presov grabbed the ninth title in a row after ruling out Bystrica 3:1 in the best of five series and beating Sporta Hlohovec comfortably in the finals 3:0.

Slovenia - RK Celje Pivovarna Laško

In the final showdown of the Slovenian championship RK Celje Pivovarna Lasko celebrated the double, after winning all three matches (3:0) against RK Gorenje Velenje – the side they had defeated in the battle for the Slovenian Cup trophy beforehand.

In Slovenian handball, it does not get much better than the duel between the two well-known rivals in the play-off finals. RK Celje Pivovarna Lasko shocked their Velenje counterparts to lead the series 2:0, with the decider played in Celje “Zlatorog” hall.  The third match promised a lot of excitements, as the EHF Cup Finals participants RK Gorenje Velenje were expected to throw everything they had at Celje to stop the 18-time champions from taking another crown. 

The high-scoring decider saw the “Wasps” close in on the Celje lead, to bring the match within two goals at 11:9. The incisive Celje run saw them forge 18:13 lead by half time. Celje topped the effort displayed by brave Gorenje, and increased the gap (25:19) approaching the last 15 minutes thanks to Miha Zarabec (eight goals) and Ivan Sliskovic's seven-goal farewell to claim their 19th trophy, following a 33:30 home victory.

Czech Republic - Talent Plzen

It was their season from the beginning until the end with a nice story in the final game. Plzen lost to Lovosice in the semi-final of the Czech cup earlier and therefore their motivation to win the league trophy against the same opponent in the final was even bigger.

Having won the first two games at home comfortably, Plzen travelled to Lovosice to retain last season’s title. 44-year-old Radek Motlík saved a penalty in the last second of the third match and Plzeň brought their fourth title home. Fans had more than one reason to celebrate in the Czech capital of beer, as both handball and football teams celebrated titles this season in domestic leagues.  

It was great year for Plzen, with only one defeat in nine play off matches and four games during regular season.

Poland – KS Vive Tauron Kielce

After difficulties caused by Orlen Wisla Plock in the Polish Champions last year, the rivalry between the teams was expected to be more interesting this season. Nevertheless, everyone who deluded themselves that the domestic competition would be as tight as a medieval battle, quite quickly realised that the clashes would resemble more of a contest between squire and knight – no matter how much the armour-bearer strives for a victory, experience always wins.

Vive Tauron Kielce left a lot to be desired regarding their style on domestic court, but enraptured with their explosive power as they won all 22 matches in the regular season with the average advantage of 12 goals. In the play-off phase they easily defeated MMTS Kwidzyn in the quarter finals (2:0 in a best-of-three series) and Pogon Szczecin in semi-finals (3:0 in a best-of-five series).

The decisive games against Plock brought huge emotions both for fans and players. All in all, a 3:0 victory for Kielce gave them their 12th title. The Polish Cup was much the same, despite the close battle, and Talant Dujshebaev’s charges defeated the Oilers 26:23 in Warsaw.


TEXT: Björn Pazen, Nemanja Savic, Magda Pluszewska, Tomas Cuncik, Bence Martha / cor
 
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