EHF Women’s Champions League – a final that is worth watching

will this be symbolic: Gyor scoring while Larvik can only watch?

will this be symbolic: Gyor scoring while Larvik can only watch?

It is understandable that the Men’s Final Four gets much more attention, but it would really be regrettable if handball fans do not take the opportunity to watch the second leg of the Women’s Champions League final Gyor-Larvik on Saturday (EHF-TV, starting local time 15h15, meaning 09h15 on the U.S. East coast).

While some might think that Gyor will have an easy time after having won 24-21 in Larvik last week, the history of the battles between these two rivals suggests that it is far from decided yet. And in any case, it is promising to be a really exciting game between two teams who are full of world-class players. How about Hammerseng, Sulland, Edin, Blanco and Leganger on the Larvik team, with Gyor having Gorbicz, Loke, Lunde-Haraldsen, Radicevic, Amorim and Tervel, just to mention a few of the better known names.

And there is a reason why I speak about ‘rivals’. These two teams have been in more finals in the EHF women’s competitions than anyone else in the last ten years, and there is also a special situation. Two of the dominant players for Gyor are Norwegians, goalie Lunde-Haraldsen who will be measured against her veteran compatriot Leganger, and then of course hard-to-stop pivot Loke, one of the most spectacular players these days. And while the two teams have never met in a European final before, they both have something to prove: Larvik want to get back on the winning track after a total of 3 different titles in the past, while Gyor should be even more desperate after having been in 7 different finals without ever coming out as winners.

The first game, in Larvik, took a number of interesting turns. The home team started out best, but then there was a Hungarian comeback, before Larvik could pull away early in the second half. Many may have thought that this meant the game was about to be decided, but then the Norwegians lost their rhythm and Lunde-Haraldsen was, if possible, even more spectacular than Leganger at the other end The Norwegian attacks became more and more hesitant, and only the counterattacks seemed to work. By contrast, Gyor found some easy openings for their shots and turned the game around.

It will now remain to be seen if the three-goal deficit is too much of a handicap for Larvik, but the interesting things is that in the semi-finals the guest won every time, and especially Larvik managed an impressed turnaround in the away game against Krim. So let us hope for a real thriller in a game that will be played in the Veszprem arena, which is always full of loud and boisterous supporters.