Champion’s League Guide to the Semifinals

To help educate the uninitiated, here’s a short guide to the upcoming semifinals this weekend and next.

(Also, don't forget that Europe starts Daylight Savings Time a week earlier than North America)

First, here’s a snippet from the Handball 101 article in our Education Section that explains the unique home and away format used in the knockout stages of the tournament:

The 2 Game Playoff Format: Coming from the land of “best of 7” playoffs, the Super Bowl and the lose one and done NCAA Basketball Tournament, this format takes a little getting used to. Perhaps the simplest way to look at is to think of it as playing one, 120 minute game. Albeit with a week long halftime and a change of venue. If one team wins both games, they, of course, advance. If they split, the team with the better overall goal differential advances. If the goal differential is identical the team that scores more away goals advances. This format, while strange, does have an advantage in that there is no “garbage time” during the first game, because you never know what will happen in the second game. (Read my account of the Montpellier – Flensburg game to get an idea of what can happen; even 14 goals is not a safe victory;

Now here’s some background on the teams and the matchups

MKB Veszprem vs Portland San Antonio

Portland San Antonio at Veszprem Sunday, 26 March, 3:15 PM Central European Time (CET)
Veszprem at Portland San Antonio Saturday, 1 April, 5:20 PM (CET)

Odds (courtesy of
To advance to the Finals: +300 (Bet 100 to win 300)
To win the Champion’s League: +600

Portland San Antonio
To advance to the Finals: -500 (Bet 500 to win 100)
To win the Champion’s League: +150

Sunday’s Match: Veszprem is a 1.5 goal favourite

MKB Veszprem : Veszprem is perennially one of the top clubs in the Hungary. Currently, they are in 2nd place in the Hungarian 1st division, behind Pick Szeged who was eliminated in the round of 16 by Ciudad Real. Veszprem
Notable Players:
Vlado Sola: Sola, 37, has been a mainstay in the Goal for the Croatian National Team for many years. He is also known for his somewhat flamboyant hair color which is currently bleached, but has also been blue and red.
Carlos Perez: A Left Wing, Perez, 34, is originally from Cuba, but has been naturalized as a Hungarian Citizen. According to the Veszprem website he has played 207 International Games (36 as a Hungarian, 171 as a Cuban)
Outlook: Definitely, the biggest underdog of the remaining 4 teams. They will need an outstanding first match at home to have a shot at advancing on aggregate.

Portland San Antonio PSA has one of the best and highest paid teams in the world and is currently in first place in Spanish First Division. In the Champions League quarter finals they knocked out #2 Barcelona 48-47 on aggregate.
Notable Players: Caspar Hvidt and Thomas Svensson – two Scandinavians with experience, speed and reflexes. Right wing Albert Rocas is one of the coming international stars at is position. And of course handball genius, Center Back Ivano Balic, arguably the best player in the world.
Outlook: . It is packed with stars and they need the title. It will be a huge upset if they can’t make it to the finals.

Ciudad Real vs Flensburg-Handewitt

Flensburg-Handewitt at Ciudad Real Sunday, 26 March, 5:00 PM Central European Time (CET)
Ciudad Real at Flensburg-Handewitt Saturday, 1 April, 3:15 PM (CET)

Odds (courtesy of
To advance to the Finals: +140
To win the Champion’s League: +300

Portland San Antonio
To advance to the Finals: -200
To win the Champion’s League: +150

Sunday’s Match: Ciudad is a 4.5 goal favourite

Flensburg The “Danish” entry in the German First Division they are currently in 3rd place behind Kiel and Gummersbach. In the quarter-finals, though they beat Kiel 64-62 on aggregate
Notable Players: Of course coach Kent-Harry Andersson is a key member of the team. His routine and skilled coaching from the bench has earned him several coach-of-the-year awards. His "extended hand" on the court is play-maker Glenn Solberg. The Norwegian star player is both head of the team and a top scorer. The shooters in the team are the Danes Lars Christiansen and Joachim Boldssen. Boldssen was injured for the last few weeks, but started practice this past week.
Side Note: The Danish keeper Hvidt (from Portland San Antonio) provided video Material about Ciudad Real to his National Team buddies who play for Flensburg.
Outlook: Flensburg is 4-7 against Spanish clubs and is eager to increase that score. Flensburg lost two years ago in the final against Celje and vows to win the CL this time around.

Ciudad Real Another perennially top team from the Spanish League. They defeated Celje (Slovenia) in the quarterfinals and currently are in 3rd place in the Spanish League.

Notable Players: "Two stars on every position" is how Flensburg's coach describes this Spanish squad. Spanish NT goalie Hombrados is definitely going to be a tough nut to crack for Flensburg. He was the key in the final of the last WC's for Spain to take the title. Playmaker Enterrios works very well together with Ex-Cuban Urios on the circle. The pair is also extremely successful playing for the Spanish NT. The left back Rutenko from Slovenia was Euro top scorer without even playing all games. Ex-Cuban and Ex-THW Kiel player Julio Fis is another world-class shooter on this position with a wealth of experience. On the right backcourt you have Croat Petar Metlicic and Icelander Olafur Stefansson. Any club would sell their president into slavery to just have one of these guys on their team. Ciudad has both. Croat Dzomba and Swede Källman are the wings. Ciudad even has enough extra cash to pay for a defensive specialist, Didier Dinart who mans the 3 position on defense.
Outlook: This team is loaded with talent, but Flensburg should put up a decent fight. Still don’t be surprised if there is an all Spanish final.