What we can take from the quarter-finals
After seven months of breath-taking gams and wild handball scenarios, we now know the names of the four clubs that will battle to win the first European League Men title.
On 22/23 May in Mannheim, three German sides, Rhein-Neckar Löwen, Füchse Berlin, SC Magdeburg, and Orlen Wisla Plock from Poland will try to get their hands on the brand new trophy at the EHF FINALS.
Before the four participating clubs discover their semi-final opponents at the draw on the 27 April at 11:00 CEST in Vienna, here are five of the most important lessons we learnt in the quarter-finals.
German clubs dominate
It has turned into a habit now, as the last two final tournaments of the EHF Cup featured at least two German clubs.
This time around, in Mannheim, there will be three: SC Magdeburg, Rhein-Neckar Löwen and Füchse Berlin.
All of them have played in the old EHF Cup event before and will hope to continue Germany’s dominance at this level, where the last non-German winner was Szeged back in 2014. Only one German club that was on the starting grid in September did not make it - MT Melsungen.
Berlin in seventh heaven
Füchse Berlin have made themselves a mainstay of these showpiece events. Following their appearance at the EHF FINAL4 in 2012 and five EHF Cup Finals, two of which they won in 2015 and 2018, the EHF FINALS will be their seventh appearance at a final tournament.
At the end of the first leg games, you might have sensed some sensations coming. Could GOG, Chekhov or Montpellier outplay their opponents with their youth and energy? In the end, experience prevailed in the second leg with the likes of Hans Lindberg scoring 12 for Berlin, Andreas Palicka leading the way for Rhein-Neckar or veteran Przemyslaw Krajewski playing a key role for Plock, experienced players and teams had the upper hand in the quarter-finals.
Top scorer out early
Usually the fashion is to crown the top scorer at the end of the final weekend but the first EHF FINALS may be different as the best scorer of the European League is very likely not to be playing in Mannheim. Emil Jakobsen, currently leading the pack with 111 goals, saw his GOG team being eliminated in the quarter-finals.
Out of the four teams playing the Finals, the top scorer is Magdeburg’s Omar Ingi Magnusson, who netted 81 times so far. Needless to say, it would take a crazy weekend for him to take top spot.
Plock break new ground
Poland’s perennial second fiddle, Plock have been forced to watch on as Kielce led the line for Poland in Europe, reaching many final tournaments and winning the EHF Champions League in 2016.
But for the first time in their history and 26 seasons in Europe, Orlen Wisla Plock have qualified for a semi-final and it will be up to them to spoil the German party.