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3 months ago - 5/2/2018

Two debutants among a French armada

Here are the most important facts and figures on the VELUX EHF Champions League 2017/18 season and the history of the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in Cologne. The draw for this pinnacle event will be staged in Cologne on Wednesday at 12:00 hrs, and live streamed on ehfTV.com.

The three French sides Paris Saint-Germain, Montpellier HB and HBC Nantes will be in the pot for the draw alongside defending champions HC Vardar.

0 goals difference was the closest gap in this season’s quarter-finals. Vardar only qualified for the FINAL4 thanks to the away goal rule.

0 players have been part of all nine editions of the VELUX EHF FINAL4, from 2010 to 2017.

0 times has a club defended the trophy at the VELUX EHF FINAL4 since the implementation of the format in the 2009/10 season.

1 player can win his third straight trophy in three years: Vardar’s Croatian wing Ivan Cupic, who won the VELUX EHF Champions League in 2016 with Kielce and in 2017 with Vardar. The last players to win the Champions League three times in a row were those of Barcelona’s golden generation, which took the trophy five times in a row from 1996 to 2000.

1 coach – Raul Gonzales – will move from one FINAL4 participant (Vardar) to another (Paris) for next season.

1 city has celebrated both Men’s and Women’s EHF Champions League titles: Skopje. The Kometal women’s team took the trophy in 2002 and the Vardar men won in 2017.

1 club will be represented at both FINAL4 events this season: Vardar.

1 Spanish coach, at minimum, was part of every VELUX EHF FINAL4 since the format was implemented in 2010. In 2017/18, it is Vardar’s Raul Gonzalez.

1 – for the first time ever, none of the VELUX EHF FINAL4 clubs are from Germany or Spain.

1 – It is the first VELUX EHF FINAL4 ever without either THW Kiel or FC Barcelona.

1 – Jonas Truchanovicius (Montpellier) will be the first Lithuanian to play at the VELUX EHF FINAL4.

1 team, Montpellier, made history as the first team to arrive at the FINAL4 from Groups C/D.

1 team, PSG, won both quarter-finals.

2 – for the second time in a row, no Icelandic coach is part of the VELUX EHF FINAL4.

2 VELUX EHF FINAL4 debutants are among the four participants: Nantes and Montpellier.

2 coaches made history: Thierry Anti (Nantes) and Patrice Canayer (Montpellier) are the first French coaches in the history of the VELUX EHF FINAL4.  

2 former or current champions are part of the VELUX EHF FINAL4: Montpellier (2003) and Vardar (2017).

2 players have won the VELUX EHF FINAL4 with two different clubs: Cupic and German Tobias Reichmann. After raising the trophy with THW Kiel in 2010 and 2012, he repeated the success in 2016 with Kielce.

2 – the winners of Groups A (Vardar) and B (PSG), who skipped the Last 16, have made it to Cologne.

2 of the four VELUX EHF FINAL4 2018 participants were part of last season’s event: the 2017 finalists, Vardar and PSG.

2 coaches have won the EHF Champions League with two different clubs so far: Alfred Gislason (2002 with SC Magdeburg, 2010 and 2012 with Kiel) and Talant Dujshebaev (2006, 2008 and 2009 with Ciudad Real, 2016 with Kielce). Neither can add another Champions League trophy this year, but Noka Serdarusic has the chance to equal their achievement, after steering Kiel to the title in 2007.

3 teams from the same country – France – have qualified for the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in Cologne. This has never happened before.

3 – after three straight years where the defending champions failed to qualify for Cologne, Vardar turned the tide.

3 players, who won the Champions League in 2003 with Montpellier, will be on court in Cologne 15 years later: Michael Guigou (Montpellier), Thierry Omeyer and Nikola Karabatic (both PSG).

3 of the four coaches have already won the EHF Champions League: Patrice Canayer (Montpellier/2003), Noka Serdarusic (Kiel/2007) and Raul Gonzalez (Vardar/2017).

3 of 72 quarter-final matches played since the implementation of the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in 2010 ended with a higher margin than Montpellier’s 29:17 victory against Flensburg on Sunday: In 2015, Barcelona beat Zagreb by 22 goals (43:21), in 2011 Hamburg beat Medvedi by 14 goals (38:24) and, in the same season, Flensburg lost against Ciudad Real with the same result (24:38).

4 different countries are represented by the seven VELUX EHF FINAL4 winners: Germany (4 – Kiel/2, Hamburg and Flensburg/both 1), Spain (Barcelona/2), Poland (Kielce/1) and FYR Macedonia (Vardar/1).

4 VELUX EHF FINAL4 matches since 2010 needed to be decided in extra time – two of them in a penalty shoot-out. First, Hamburg beat Barcelona in the 2013 final 30:29 after extra time, followed by the 2014 semi-final shoot-out between Flensburg and Barcelona (40:39). In 2016, Veszprém beat Kiel 31:29 after extra time, but then lost to Kielce 38:39 after penalties in the final.

4 direct red cards were given in the history of the VELUX EHF FINAL4 so far – three of them for Croatian players (Denis Buntic/Kielce in 2013, Renato Sulic/Veszprém 2014 and Igor Vori/PSG 2016). The fourth was received by Kielce’s Pole Piotr Chrapkowski. Five more players had to finish the matches on the stands after three two-minute-suspensions; among them, three Croatians (Sulic/2015, Domagoj Duvnjak/Kiel 2015 and Ilja Brozovic/Kiel 2015).

4 former or current top scorers of the VELUX EHF Champions League will still be on court in the semi-finals: PSG’s Uwe Gensheimer (2016/17 – 115 goals for PSG, 2010/11 – 118 for Rhein-Neckar Löwen), PSG’s Mikkel Hansen (2011/12 – 98 for AG Kobenhavn, 2015/16 – 141 for PSG), Nantes’ Kiril Lazarov (2007/08 – 96 and 2005/06 – 85 for Veszprém) and PSG’s Nikola Karabatic (2006/07 – 89 for Kiel).

4 times, Thierry Omeyer and Arpad Sterbik each won the Champions League. Omeyer raised the trophy in 2003 with Montpellier, then in 2007, 2010 and 2012 with Kiel. Sterbik took the title in 2006, 2008 and 2009 with Ciudad Real, and in 2017 with Vardar. Omeyer’s teammate Nikola Karabatic has won the trophy three times with three different clubs (Montpellier 2004, Kiel 2007 and Barcelona 2015) and could become the first player to win the title with four different teams.

4 times, teams coached by a Spaniard won the trophy in Cologne: in 2011, 2015 (Barcelona/Xavi Pascual), 2016 (Kielce/Talant Dujshebaev) and 2017 (Vardar/Raul Gonzalez).

5 former or current IHF World Handball Players of the Year are still in competition: Nikola Karabatic (2007, 2014, 2016/PSG), Mikkel Hansen (2011, 2015/PSG), Daniel Narcisse (2012/PSG), Thierry Omeyer (2008/PSG) and Arpad Sterbik (2005/Vardar).

5 nations are only represented by the 23 previous winners of the Men’s EHF Champions League: Spain (14 titles, including all from 1994 to 2001), Germany (6 titles, including four in Cologne), Fyr Macedonia (Vardar), Poland (Kielce), France (Montpellier) and Slovenia (Celje).

5 different German clubs have qualified for previous VELUX EHF FINAL4 events: Kiel (six times), Hamburg (two), Rhein-Neckar Löwen, Flensburg and Berlin (each one). This year, only two German players are part of the VELUX EHF FINAL4: Uwe Gensheimer (PSG) and Dominik Klein (Nantes).

7 times, including the current season, Nantes’ left wing Dominik Klein has been part of the VELUX EHF FINAL4, following six appearances with THW Kiel. Omeyer will also make his seventh appearance in Cologne (four times with Kiel, now with PSG for the third time). Nantes right back Kiril Lazarov will make his sixth appearance, as he played in Cologne with Ciudad Real (2011), Atletico Madrid (2012) and FC Barcelona (2014, 2015, 2017).

11 of 196 matches since the start of the group phase ended with a difference of 10 or more goals, including one (Montpellier vs Flensburg/29:17) in the quarter-finals.

12 goals were the biggest margin in this season’s quarter-finals, recorded by Montpellier against Flensburg (57:45) – after a draw in the first leg. PSG reached a nine-goal aggregate difference against Kielce (69:60).

21 matches since the start of the group phase ended in draws, two of them in the quarter-finals: Flensburg vs Montpellier 28:28 and Skjern vs Nantes 27:27.  

24 seasons, including the current one, Patrice Canayer has led Montpellier HB.

+24 goals was the highest margin of the 2017/18 VELUX EHF Champions League season, recorded in the Last 16 match Kielce vs Löwen (41:17).

27 points (if quarter-final matches are included) were taken by PSG in their 16 matches so far, making their tally the highest of all four VELUX EHF FINAL4 participants.

29 VELUX EHF Champions League matches in a row, since November 2014, PSG have been unbeaten on home ground.

30 goals difference in both legs of the Last 16 Kielce vs Löwen is the biggest ever margin in a Champions League knock-out stage.

43 matches since the start of the group phase – including three in the quarter-finals – were attended by 5,000 fans or more.

46 goals was the lowest score in a quarter-final match, when Montpellier beat Flensburg 29:17. Still, the 39 goals scored in the Group C/D play-off Montpellier vs Leon (20:19) is the lowest score of the season.

47 goals total was the lowest score of any VELUX EHF FINAL4 match since 2010 – and the spectators on the final day in 2012 even saw this number twice in a row: First in the placement match Berlin vs Kobenhavn (21:26), then in the final Kiel vs Atletico Madrid (26:21). Last season, the final Vardar vs Paris (24:23) was the third match ever with this number of goals.

50 times, 60 or more goals were scored in a match since the start of the group phase, including three quarter-final games.

56 goals in two legs of the quarter-final were enough for Vardar to make it to Cologne.

56 goals each make Filip Jicha (for Kiel and Barcelona) and Momir Ilic (for Kiel and Veszprém) the best overall scorers in VELUX EHF FINAL4 history. They top the ranking ahead of Kiril Lazarov (51), Laszlo Nagy (50), Aron Palmarsson (47) and Siarhei Rutenka (47). Lazarov is the only one with the chance to add more goals to his tally this year.

56.37 goals have been scored on average in all 200 matches of the 2017/18 season so far.

+60 is the impressive goal difference for Montpellier after 16 VELUX EHF Champions League matches so far.

63 matches since the start of the group phase were won by teams playing away, including three in the quarter-finals (Vardar at Kiel, Kiel at Vardar, PSG at Kielce).

67 goals in the match PSG vs Kielce (35:32) was the highest scoring quarter-final match. In total, 72 goals were the highest number of goals in a match this season – and it occurred twice in the group phase: Szeged’s 37:35 away win at Löwen and at Elverum’s 40:32 victory against Bucuresti.

80 goals were scored in the record-breaking 2014 semi-final Flensburg vs Barcelona (41:39 after extra-time and penalties) to top this ranking ahead of the 77 goals in the 2016 final Kielce vs Veszprém (39:38 after extra-time and penalties) and the highest score of a FINAL4 match decided after 60 minutes, the 2013 semi Hamburg vs Kiel (39:33/72 goals).

88 goals were scored by Markus Olsson (Skjern) to lead the top scorer list after the quarter-finals. The top scorer still in the competition is PSG left wing and last season’s overall top scorer Uwe Gensheimer, with 87 goals.

109 matches since the start of the group phase were won by home teams, including three in the quarter-finals.

245 goals were scored at the 2016 edition of the VELUX EHF FINAL4 to top this ranking just ahead of 2014 (244 goals) and 2013 (243). The lowest overall score of a FINAL4 event was 191 goals in 2012. 2010 and 2017 (215 each), and 2011 and 2015 (224 each) sit in the middle of this ranking.

522 goals were scored by Nantes in their 18 matches so far, while PSG struck 493 times in only 16 matches.

9,500 fans at the match Kiel vs Vardar was the highest number of the eight quarter-finals.

11,275 goals have been scored so far in this VELUX EHF Champions League season – 235 in the qualification tournament, 9,911 in the group phase (including play-offs), 672 in the Last 16 and 457 in the eight quarter-finals.

15,000 fans in total saw both legs of the quarter-final pairing Kiel vs Vardar.

42,567 spectators attended eight quarter-final matches, which means an average of 5,320.

Top three rankings:
High-scoring matches:
72 goals: Rhein-Neckar Löwen vs Szeged 35:37 (GP)
72 goals: Elverum vs Bucuresti 40:32 (GP)
70 goals: Celje vs Veszprém 31:39 (GP)

Low-scoring matches:
39 goals: Montpellier vs Leon 20:19 (GP)
40 goals: Kiel vs Flensburg 20:20 (GP)
42 goals: Löwen vs Vardar 21:21 (GP)
42 goals: Kiel vs Veszprém 22:20 (GP)

Biggest score lines:
+24 goals: Kielce vs Löwen 41:17 (L16)
+16 goals: Vardar vs Kristianstad 31:15 (GP)
+15 goals: Skjern vs Velenje 35:20 (GP)

Top scorers:
88 goals: Markus Olsson (Skjern)
87 goals: Uwe Gensheimer (PSG)
83 goals: Andy Schmid (Löwen)

Top scorers still in competition:
87 goals: Uwe Gensheimer (PSG)
74 goals: Eduardo Gurbindo (Nantes)
68 goals: Timur Dibirov (Vardar)

Season statistics of the four participants:
HBC Nantes:
18 matches – 11 victories – 4 draws – 3 defeats – 26 points – 522:488 goals, goal difference +34

Paris Saint-Germain:
16 matches – 13 victories – 1 draw – 2 defeats – 27 points – 493:438 goals, goal difference +55

Montpellier Handball:
16 matches – 12 victories – 1 draw – 3 defeats – 25 points – 470:410 goals, goal difference +60

HC Vardar:
16 matches – 10 victories – 3 draws – 3 defeats – 23 points – 446:397 goals – goal difference +49

Author: Björn Pazen / cg