FEATURE: Goals, fans and a brand new line up for the finals - facts and figures of the EHF Cup Quarter-finals
Out with the old, in with the new
New faces will be seen at the EHF Cup Finals in Berlin this year, one of the most interesting points in this facts and figures for the EHF Cup Quarter-finals.
All four teams are new. HBC Nantes were the only team in the quarter-finals who could have qualified for the second year in a row, but that was prevented by their 59:49 aggregate defeat to countrymen Montpellier Agglomeration HB.
While all teams are new, two nations, who were represented last year, are represented again.
In 2013, Germany was represented by Rhein-Neckar Löwen who won the tournament, and by Frisch Auf Göppingen who finished fourth. This year, the German colours will be defended by Füchse Berlin.
France, represented by Nantes, who finished second last season, will see Montpellier try to emulate that achievement at the Max Schmeling-Halle in Berlin.
Just like last year, the quarter-finals contained a local derby between two teams from the same nation.
In the 2012-13 season, the Danish teams Team Tvis Holstebro and KIF Kolding København met in the quarter-final, with Holstebro as winner by one goal on aggregate. This year, Montpellier made things much clearer in the second leg, as they reached the EHF Cup Finals with a 10-goal cushion on aggregate against domestic rivals Nantes.
The largest win in the quarter-finals was booked by HCM Constanta. The Romanian champions won the first leg against Swedish Lugi HF 31:21 at home. Montpellier came in second with 33:24 at home in their second match against Nantes.
The quarter-finals did not change the fact that Montpellier is the only team who have a 100% record in the EHF Cup this season.
Their two wins against Nantes in the quarter-finals increased their total number of victories in the competition to ten - two wins in Qualification Round 3, six wins in the group phase, and two in the quarter-finals.
Montpellier were also the only team to win an away match in the quarter-finals. This happened as they won 26:25 in the first leg.
All four teams have managed to stay undefeated on home court throughout the tournament. While Montpellier, Szeged and Füchse Berlin have won all home games, Constanta lost a point on the way through a 31:31 draw against Füchse on 23 February.
When it comes to attendances, none of the quarter-finals could beat the largest crowd for an EHF Cup match so far this season. The Group D match between Füchse Berlin and Chambéry Savoie Handball on 9 February still holds the record with 5,745 spectators.
The largest attendance in the quarter-finals was 5,000 spectators at the first leg of the French tie between Nantes and Montpellier.
Goals, goals, goals
In the group phase, Sporting had the most dangerous attack. This was changed in the quarter-finals, where Montpellier and Constanta shared that honour, scoring 59 goals each.
Montpellier continued being the team who conceded the fewest goals, just like they were in the group phase. In the quarter-finals, the team under Patrice Canayer only conceded 49 goals.
Just like after the group phase, Pedro Caseiro Portela from Sporting CP is still the top scorer in the tournament, now with 60 goals.
However, the 23-year-old Portuguese right winger will have trouble keeping his first place, as his team is out of the competition now.
Alexandru Simicu from Constanta, who is in second place with 55 goals, and Dragan Gajic from Montpellier, who is third with 53, are both still in the tournament and with good chances of passing Caseiro, once the EHF Cup Finals launch on 17-18 May.
Dragan Gajice from Montpellier was the most scoring player in quarter-finals. Their 29-year-old Slovenian right winger scored no less than 22 goals in the two quarter-final matches against Nantes.
Constanta´s 25-year-old left back Alexandru Simicu came in second with 18 goals.
Dragan Gajic was also the most scoring player in a single match in the quarter-finals, with 12 goals in the first match against Nantes.
On that list, Simicu also came in second, with ten goals in the first match against Lugi.
TEXT: Peter Bruun / cor
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