Nantes vs. Rhein Neckar Löwen in the final, while Göppingen play against Holstebro for third place
Preview of the final day of the EHF Cup Finals
After two clear semi-finals victories host HBC Nantes and German side Rhein Neckar Löwen reach out for the trophy in the EHF Cup on Sunday. Before, defending champions Frisch Auf Göppingen and Danish side Team Tvis Holstebro face in the match for the third rank.
Sunday, 15.45 hrs. local times- bronze match:
Team Tvis Holstebro (DEN)vs. Frisch Auf Göppingen (GER)
A match of honour or a serious encounter for the first ever third rank in this competition? Both teams take the Sunday’s opener for granted:”We have lost the semi, but still we are aiming for one victory at those first ever EHF Cup Finals,” said Holstebro coach Klavs Bruun Jörgensen.
And his Göppingen counter-part Velimir Petkovic added: “We want to finish our international season victorious, though we know that we missed the European Cups for the upcoming season.”
The only ever matches against a German opponent ended with an elimination for Team Tvis Holstebro in the 2009/10 season of the Cup Winners’ Cup when they lost their quarter-finals against later-on trophy winner VfL Gummersbach.
In contrast, Göppingen’s balance against Danish clubs is positive (three victories – one defeat): 2006 the Germans beat GOG Gudme twice in the EHF Cup, 2009 they were the aggregate winners against Aab Aalborg on their way to the EHF Cup quarter-finals.
Sunday, 18:00 hrs. local times – final:
HBC Nantes (FRA) vs. Rhein Neckar Löwen (GER)
Five years after relegating to the first French league HBC Nantes have the great chance to become the first ever French winner of the EHF Cup. After their clear 26:20 victory in the semi-final against Holstebro the host of the EHF Cup Finals are hoping for the trophy. “If our goalkeeper Arnaud Siffert shows a performance like on Saturday we can fulfill our dream,” said coach Thierry Anti.
“This is an incredible once-in-a-lifetime-chance,” Anti added: “Not much players in the world have the chance to win a trophy on home-ground – and we are aiming to catch it.”
On the other hand, Rhein Neckar Löwen play their second final of the EHF Cup after losing in aggregate in 2008 against MKB Veszprem. On Saturday they had beaten German country-fellows Frisch Auf Göppingen in their semi 28:22.
“We have shown the best defence performance of this season, including our goalkeeper Niklas Landin on a world class level,” said Löwen coach Gudmundur Gudmundsson, who has reached the first ever international final on club level in his career after he had booked the ticket for the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in 2011.
One thought Löwen would accept the favourite role now, is wrong: “We face a highly strong opponent, who has the major advantage to play on home soil – anything than an easy job,” said Icelandic international Alexander Petterson. “We can only raise the trophy if we show even more passion than in the semi-final,” outstanding goalkeeper Niklas Landin added.
Nantes had faced one German team in the current season – and did not take any victory against SC Magdeburg in the Group Phase, after a home defeat and a draw in their away match. In contrast Löwen have best memories about matches on French ground: Two years ago they clinched their berth for the VELUX EHF FINAL4 by a clear away victory at Montpellier.
“This is even more than an away match in this atmosphere,” Löwen manager Thorsten Storm said.
Either if Nantes or Löwen raise the trophy they will be debutants – none of them ever won a title in their club history, neither on domestic ground, nor in the European Cups.
Göppingen coach Velimir Petkovic cross fingers for Löwen: “I hope the trophy will remain in Germany, where it had been since 2004.”
TEXT: Björn Pazen / br
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