Four sides go all-in for the EHF Finals Men

26 May. 2023

Four sides go all-in for the EHF Finals Men

The quest for the EHF European League Men title will end this weekend in a crunch EHF Finals Men, which will take place in Flensburg, with four sides vying for the trophy.

Two German sides – Frisch Auf Göppingen and Füchse Berlin – one Spanish side – Fraikin BM. Granollers – and one French side – Montpellier HB – fight for the big prize, trying to follow in SL Benfica’s footsteps, the last season’s winner.

Göppingen and Montpellier entered the competition in the Qualification Phase 2, where they struggled to dominate their opponents, TBV Lemgo-Lippe and IK Savehof, respectively, yet their path to the final was set.

The two sides were both part of Group A, where they secured eight wins out of ten matches, but have been unbeaten in the knockout phase of the competition, where the German team clinched four wins out of four matches, while Montpellier had three wins and a draw.

Füchse Berlin looked to be the favourites of the competition, especially as they boast three world champions in their roster, including the MVP, right back Mathias Gidsel, but after a 10-game winning run in the group phase, the only side to have made it 10 out of 10, Füchse had their issues in the quarter-finals, where they mounted an impressive comeback in the second leg against Kadetten Schaffhausen (30:24), after conceding a 33:37 loss in the first leg.

The surprise package of the EHF Finals Men is surely Fraikin BM. Granollers, which finished their group on the third place, with six wins out of 10 matches, and needed two otherworldly comebacks to make it to Flensburg.

First, they cancelled a 32:34 loss at home against Skanderborg-Aarhus, to down the Danish side 30:25 in the second leg of the Last 16 phase, while the biggest surprise came in the quarter-finals, where they eliminated German powerhouse SG Flensburg-Handewitt.

Flensburg, which counted on a huge home crowd were it to make it to the EHF Finals Men, won the first leg in Spain (31:30), but collapsed on their home court to concede a 27:35 loss, as Granollers made it through to the business end of the competition.

In the semi-finals, Füchse will face Montpellier, while Göppingen will face off with Granollers, as an all-German side is possible, which would mean one more title in the second-tier European competition for Germany.

Since the introduction of the Men’s EHF Cup, which was rebranded as the EHF European League Men in 1993, German teams have won 20 titles, with Göppingen and Magdeburg being the most decorated sides, with four titles each.

Füchse have won the trophy twice, in 2015 and 2018, while Granollers also sealed the win in 1995 and 1996, and can become the first Spanish side since Barca in 2003 to clinch the second-tier European competition.

No French side has won the EHF European League Men, despite playing five finals, all lost, including the one by Montpellier against Pick Szeged in 2013/14.

Over the past two editions of the IHF Men’s Super Globe, the EHF European League Men winner has received a wild card to take part, with SC Magdeburg winning the competition in 2021.

Photo: Patricia Sports MHB