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05.05.2017, 16:50
Vardar aim to take revenge on CSM for last year’s semi-final
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SEMI-FINAL PREVIEW: The Macedonian powerhouse has performed better than CSM so far this season, however, Vardar were also favourites in 2016: the year that the outfit from Bucharest clinched the title.
 

Vardar aim to take revenge on CSM for last year’s semi-final

As it turned out, the fixtures for the TIPPMIX EHF FINAL4 2017 are identical to those of 2016. Thus, defending champions CSM Bucuresti will face HC Vardar in the semi-final. Can the title holders pull off another major upset or has Vardar’s time finally come?

  • Vardar have participated in every FINAL4 since the introduction of the format, but they have never made it to the final of the competition.
  • CSM employed a new coach just days before the quarter-final, but still managed to clinch a place in the FINAL4.
  • Vardar were the team with the most goals scored in the main round, however, out of the teams that made it to the quarter-finals, they also conceded the most goals.

TIPPMIX EHF FINAL4, SEMI-FINAL:

CSM Bucuresti (ROM) vs HC Vardar (MKD)
Saturday 6 May, 17:45 hrs local time, live on ehfTV.com.

There were few who thought CSM could defeat the mighty Vardar in the semi-final of the WOMEN'S EHF FINAL4 2016, however, the Romanian side not only reached the final, but they ultimately claimed the title.

Although CSM are now defending champions, the situation is like the semi-final last year: Vardar are arguably the best team of the competition, while CSM have had troublesome periods throughout the season.

On top of that, the title-holders recently took a risk, as they introduced a new coach just one week before the quarter-final. Although Vardar have had a fair share of coach changes this season themselves, Per Johansson’s job with CSM is his first time managing an elite club.

CSM shouldn’t be underestimated

As Györ’s Ambros Martín put it, due to the format of the FINAL4, the winners don’t have to be the best team of the year, but merely the best of the weekend. Indeed, there is no doubt CSM have what it takes to do it: this was shown by Isabella Gulldén and her teammates last year.

Gulldén, the outstanding Swedish superstar, will face current leader of the top-scorer list Andrea Penezic, alongside other players from Vardar’s lethal back line, such as Andrea Lekic and Alexandra Lacrabere.

Vardar scored the most goals of any team in the main round, however, out of the teams that made it to the quarter-finals, they also conceded the most goals. This could be alarming before the game, as CSM’s goal machines such as Carmen Martin and Majda Mehmedovic could cause them trouble.

“All four teams at the FINAL4 are really good and no matter which team we play against, it’s going to be very difficult,” said Bucuresti right back, Line Jörgensen after the draw for the fixtures.

After the draw, Vardar’s Tamara Mavsar was happy that the wait was over, and that they could finally start preparing for the action in Budapest.

Apart from last year’s semi-final, the teams met twice in the main round in the 2015/16 season, with Vardar emerging as winners on both occasions.


TEXT: Bence Mártha / kc
 
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