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10.05.2019, 15:00
“Nothing to lose” Vipers aim to surprise Györ
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SEMI-FINAL PREVIEW: DELO WOMEN’S EHF FINAL4 debutants Vipers and back-to-back defending champions Györ have already met twice this season, with two wins for the Hungarian team. Can the Norwegian side turn the tables in Budapest?
 

“Nothing to lose” Vipers aim to surprise Györ

The first semi-final at the DELO WOMEN’S EHF FINAL4 will see the ultimate face-off between debutants and experience. Györi Audi ETO KC will be playing their 12th semi-final in 13 seasons, while Vipers Kristiansand are making their first appearance in the penultimate stage in only their second year in the Women’s EHF Champions League.

This vast experience may favour Györ, but the Hungarian powerhouse will remember that it was Champions League debutants CSM Bucuresti who clinched the title at Györ’s expense in 2015/16.

  • Györ and Vipers have met six times in European cup matches, with five wins for Györ, including two in this season’s main round

  • Györ have the chance to win their third straight Champions League title in Budapest

  • Vipers’ Linn Jorum Sulland enters the DELO WOMEN’S EHF FINAL4 just four goals behind the leaders of the top scorer ranking, FTC’s Noemi Hafra and CSM’s Jovanka Radicevic – both out of the competition

SEMI-FINAL

Vipers Kristiansand (NOR) vs Györi Audi ETO KC (HUN)
Saturday 11 May, 15:15 CET, live on ehfTV.com

Vipers and Györ have met once before in a semi-final – back in the 2003/04 season, when Györ progressed to the EHF Cup Final but did not claim the title. Vipers won one of those encounters, but no other clash against Györ ended in favour of the Norwegian side. However, anyone who has seen Vipers’ form this season would not dare underestimate the Norwegian team’s form.

After a rocky start that included one draw and two losses, Vipers became one of the sides to watch. Their only defeats after Round 3 of the group matches came in the main round against Györ – 29:33 in Hungary and 26:33 in Norway.

Vipers’ experience as a team may be incomparable with Györ’s, but individuals within their squad have impressive records on the big stage. Goalkeeper Katrine Lunde, who was decisive in many of the Norwegian club’s matches this season, has won no less than four Champions League titles, and was part of the Györ squad for their first two victories in 2012/13 and 2013/14. Back Linn Jorum Sulland is the top scorer still in the competition, with 76 goals.

The two are among several former or current Norwegian internationals that wear the Vipers’ jersey – a factor that speaks in Vipers’ favour when it comes to high-pressure matches. Even less experienced individuals such as 20-year-old Henny Ella Reistad are showing no signs of being hindered by any lack of experience. Reistad is the second top scorer for her side with 63 goals and sits ninth overall.

Györ arrive at the DELO WOMEN’S FINAL4 after a season that resembled their previous one. Key backs Nora Mørk and Eduarda Amorim were absent due to injury for parts of the year but both are back on court – unlike last season, when Mørk watched the title win from the bench. The Hungarian side are back at full strength and looking as powerful as ever.

Györ have spent the season extending their undefeated run in the Champions League, which saw them last beaten in January 2018. Over the eight months since their first game in October, they scored the most goals of the DELO WOMEN’S EHF FINAL4 participants and recorded the best goal difference.

The arrivals of last season’s WOMEN’S EHF FINAL4 MVP Amandine Leynaud, Veronica Kristiansen, Kari Brattset and Crina Pintea bolstered the already formidable squad further in 2018/19.

“Györ are not only a strong team but also possess excellent individuals. They can always send someone with full energy to the court if someone else is struggling. But we have nothing to lose against them,” said Katrine Lunde at the DELO WOMEN’S EHF FINAL4 draw event in April.

Lunde’s words perfectly summarise the impending clash. On paper Györ appear to have the upper hand, but Vipers are playing with less pressure and the potential for a very pleasant surprise.


TEXT: Courtney Gahan / ew
 
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