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01.06.2017, 22:10
Debutants check in last as four teams arrive in Cologne
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FEATURE: All is set for the greatest handball show of the season as the four participants of the VELUX EHF FINAL4 made it to Cologne without any travel problems

»EHF CL Channel »2016-17 Men's CL
»Final Four
»
 

Debutants check in last as four teams arrive in Cologne

Boarding complete! All players, who will be on court this weekend in the LANXESS arena, have finally arrived at the team hotel in Cologne safe and well. With less than 48 hours to go to the semi-finals Veszprem vs Paris and Vardar vs Barcelona, the tension is rising at the river Rhine.

FC Barcelona Lassa had already entered their rooms on Wednesday night. After a training session on Thursday morning the players had a free afternoon and could relax, when the rest of the teams checked in the team hotel close to the arena. All Barca players – except long-term injured Lasse Anderson are ready to rumble at the in overall sixth appearance of the record winners at Cologne.

“It was strange to be here so early, as not even ehfTV.com commentator Tom O`Brannagain was waiting for us at the airport”, Barcelona team captain Victor Tomas said with a smile. Their plane had arrived with a one-hour delay: “But we are used to it, it was like all the years before. It is great to be back after missing the FINAL4 last year.”

The second team to arrive was Paris Saint-Germain at 7:30 pm on Thursday. In contrast to the remaining opponents, the French side took another means of transportation: They made it to Cologne by high-speed train.

“It took us less than four hours, it was a relaxing trip though initially it was quite hot in the train,” PSG coach Noka Serdarusic said. Already had their debut in 2016, when Paris also arrived by train. “All players are at Cologne, Saturday we will see how fit they are.”

Only some minutes later, PSG’s semi-final opponent Telekom Veszprém entered the hotel lobby. But as the team tried to check how many handball player fit into the revolving door, it took some time until the whole squad had received their room keys.

 

“We know this trip quite well now,” said Swedish line player Andreas Nilsson about travelling by bus from Veszprém to Vienna and then flying to Cologne: “It as the fourth time, hopefully we return with the trophy this time. Definitely we are happy to be back at Cologne.”

The last in line were the debutants. HC Vardar, arriving 70 minutes before midnight. “I am here for the sixth time now with the fourth different club – and I never won the title. Now it is time for my first trophy,” said Vardar left back Joan Canellas, who had been part of the VELUX EHF FINAL4 with Ciudad Real, Atletico Madrid and THW Kiel already.

 

And like all his Spanish teammates such as Arpad Sterbik, Jorge Maqueda or Alex Dujshebaev they were warmly welcomed by their country-fellows from their semi-final opponent FC Barcelona in the hotel lobby.


TEXT: Björn Pazen / br
 
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