In the Bundesliga, the top German handball teams from Kiel and Flensburg are bitter rivals. In the premier class, they hope for mutual success. Just like eight years ago, when both clubs even reached the final.
Want to go high with their teams: Domogaj Duvnjak (Kiel) and Hampus Wanne (SG, right).
The destination is Cologne. Arch-rivals THW Kiel and SG Flensburg-Handewitt are highly motivated to make a new attempt at Europe’s handball crown in the Champions League and want to reach the finals together in June 2022 in the cathedral city for the first time since the 2013/14 season. “We want to get into Final4,” emphasized Kiel’s backcourt ace Domagoj Duvnjak before the start of the group phase this Wednesday (6.45pm / ServusTV and DAZN) at Meschkow Brest in Belarus.
Similar tones could be heard from Flensburg. “We want to show our best possible performance in all competitions and live up to our own expectations. This certainly means that we want to reach Final4 in Cologne,” said SG managing director Dierk Schmäschke before the kick-off against defending champions FC Barcelona on Thursday.
Memories of 2014
In the spring of 2014, the two top German teams contested the final in the premier class – at that time with the better end for the Flensburg team, who have not made it to the finals since then. The THW, on the other hand, made it to the semi-finals twice and brought the most coveted European handball trophy to the fjord in December 2020.
The memories of the triumph are still fresh and should inspire the people of Kiel. In Group A, the two-time Champions League winner Vardar Skopje, Hungary’s champion Pick Szeged and the Danish champion Aalborg Handbold, who was stopped by the star ensemble from Barcelona in the final last season, are likely to be the toughest competitors.
“We have attractive opponents, and every game is about Cologne. The group stage is the key to reaching Final4 – especially when you see which opponents from the other group can come up to us in the knockout round “, said THW managing director Viktor Szilagyi.
High opening hurdle for zebras – hammer group for SG
In order to save the round of 16 and to qualify directly for the quarter-finals, the Kielers have to take first or second place. “The opening game in Brest is an important step towards that,” said Szilagyi.
The task for Flensburg seems much more difficult. In addition to Spain’s series champion Barcelona, the runner-up in Group B will get it with France’s top team Paris Saint-Germain, to which Kiel failed in the previous season, the Polish champion Vive Kielce with national goalkeeper Andreas Wolff, the end-round regular guest Telekom Veszprem, who is highly regarded every year from Hungary and Portugal’s champion FC Porto do.
Even the start against Barcelona is tough. The two teams have faced each other nine times in the premier class, and the Catalans have won seven times. 4600 fans are allowed into the Flens-Arena on Thursday, which was last filled with 2750 spectators against Erlangen. The association, which for the first time also allows people who have been recovered and those who have been vaccinated, is hoping for a full “North Hell” – and of course two points.
You can also read the HBL previews for Kiel and Flensburg
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Above all, does Flensburg have to look in the rear-view mirror?