Summary: Berlin win first EHF European League title; Wiede named MVP
Füchse Berlin became the new champions of the EHF European League Men as they defeated Fraikin BM. Granollers in the 2022/23 final in Flensburg on Sunday. For the German side, it was the first title in the EHF European League, and third in the second-tier European cup competition. Granollers had reached the final for the first time since they played the trophy match in the former iteration of the competition, the EHF Cup, in 1996.
Göppingen locked up third place with a great defensive display in the placement match, particularly in the second half, against Montpellier.
- Füchse Berlin celebrated their first EHF European League title after a powerful performance in the final against Fraikin BM. Granollers, winning 36:31
- Frisch Auf Göppingen secured third place in the 2022/23 season as they beat Montpellier 33:29
- Füchse back Fabian Wiede was named MVP of the EHF Finals Men 2023, while Kadetten's Odinn Thor Rikhardsson took the top scorer title with 110 goals this season
- Füchse Berlin beat Montpellier 35:29 and Fraikin BM. Granollers defeated Göppingen 31:29 in the semi-finals on Saturday
- read all the special features and other EHF Finals Men 2023 news here
- Courtney Gahan reporting live from Flensburg. Photos by kolektiff/Axel Heimken
192 matches played and the new champions crowned — the EHF European League Men 2022/23 is officially over. And that means we come to the end of our live blog coverage of the EHF Finals Men 2023.
Congratulations to all four teams for their great performances this weekend, and especially to the new title holders Füchse Berlin. It was a weekend worthy of the great season that was the third edition of the competition.
Can SC Magdeburg follow Berlin's achievement when they play the TruckScout24 EHF FINAL4 in a few weeks time and give Germany another reason to celebrate? Be sure to keep up with all the news on eurohandball.com until then, and don't forget the Women's EHF FINAL4 next weekend in Budapest.
Now the final buzzer has sounded in the final, it's official: Odinn Thor Rikhardsson is the top scorer of the EHF European League Men 2022/23! Rikhardsson finished with 110 goals for Kadetten Schaffhausen.
The MVP award for the EHF Finals Men 2023 went to Berlin right back Fabian Wiede. Wiede scored eight goals and made eight assists over the weekend.
Wiede was part of all three European cup trophy wins for Füchse. He was named in one All-star Team before, at the 2019 World Championship, where Germany made it to the semi-finals and ultimately ranked fourth.
There is someone else we need to give a shoutout to: The volunteers who played such a big role in making the EHF Finals Men 2023 what it was. Events like this could not happen without them.
We cannot forget the runners-up Granollers, who won the hearts of many new fans over the course of the EHF Finals Men 2023. It is their most successful international season in three decades.
The medal ceremony is complete and as I write, Füchse Berlin coach Jaron Siewert is being thrown in the air by his team as they celebrate their third international title. This trophy takes them closer to the record-holders in the second-tier European cup competition, with Magdeburg, Kiel and Göppingen all having won three times — although only Kiel have won the current iteration of the competition.
Füchse Berlin lost only one match in the whole season and are the deserved winners of the EHF European League 2022/23 — and just like that, the season is over!
Read all about how the final unfolded in the match review below.
It is still unbelievable that we played this final tournament. It is still unbelievable that we can compete against those teams which are built to win big tournaments. We have a young team. We want to get closer to those teams. We enjoyed the season, we enjoyed this tournament, we enjoyed to look up to those Füchse giants. We believed we could beat them, but in the end, they were so much better than us. We did not play perfect, and to beat them we would have needed 100 per cent. We will have to work to get back on this big stage.
Granollers played a big, big season, and gave a big fight today. This match was emotional on a high level. It was difficult for us in the first half. After the break, we played with more speed and had more space. Similar to the semi-final yesterday, we won the second half clearly.
It was a great performance over two days. We have many great players, not only our MVP Fabian Wiede. And every player played the role he was supposed to. This is a big title for the club. It was not the Champions League, but maybe we can achieve this title in a couple of years. European League became a high-level competition, so everybody shall celebrate this title like a German championship.
19:33 FINAL: FULL-TIME | FÜCHSE BERLIN VS GRANOLLERS 36:31
Final whistle in Flensburg and the EHF European League Men 2022/23 title is decided: Füchse Berlin have taken the trophy for the first time.
19:29 FINAL | FÜCHSE BERLIN VS GRANOLLERS 35:29
Three minutes on the clock and it looks like Berlin have the trophy wrapped up. Granollers did reduce to a five-goal distance with still over four minutes to go, which may have been enough time, but Mathias Gidsel just netted his fifth and that seems the match winner.
19:22 FINAL | FÜCHSE BERLIN VS GRANOLLERS 32:24
It is absolutely crunchtime now, as the final 10 minutes begin — if Granollers cannot reduce the gap, the difference will be too decisive to overcome very soon. Even now it would take a mammouth effort, but as Göppingen line player Kresimir Kozina said yesterday after they were defeated by Granollers in the semi, "Granollers kept on fighting, and they have the heart of a champion."
19:17 FINAL | FÜCHSE BERLIN VS GRANOLLERS 28:21
The clock ticks past the 45-minute mark with Füchse clear in front, although Granollers have managed to reduce the gap a little.
There is still plenty of time for a comeback from such a deficit, and Granollers have improved statistics like their shooting accuracy this half, but the attacking efficiency from the Spanish side is low, reflecting their difficulty against the defence led by the towering combination of Mijajlo Marsenic and Marko Kopljar in the middle.
19:06 FINAL | FÜCHSE BERLIN VS GRANOLLERS 24:15
Eight minutes into the second period, the situation is starting to look very tough for Granollers, while Berlin have romped to a decisive lead.
Unless Granollers can find a way to stem the flow of goals, they may be looking at an uncomfortable record: The biggest win in the top-four format in the second-tier men's European cup competition was eight goals, when Göppingen beat Füchse in 2017.
18:57 FINAL | FÜCHSE BERLIN VS GRANOLLERS 16:12
The final resumes, with Granollers facing a comeback task as Berlin have a fairly comfortable lead.
Fun fact: Germany have just won the women's title at the EHF Beach Handball EURO 2023. How is this relevant to the EHF Finals Men 2023? Considering Füchse's lead here in the final, there is now strong potential for a father-and-daughter duo to celebrate trophies today, as Lucie-Marie Kretzschmar is part of the national beach handball team and her father, Stefan Kretzschmar, is sports director for Füchse Berlin.
Lucie-Marie is also current world champion in beach handball. Her father won the former iteration of the EHF European League as a player, raising the EHF Cup with SC Magdeburg.
18:40 FINAL: HALF-TIME | FÜCHSE BERLIN VS GRANOLLERS 16:12
Berlin's greater experience started to become more apparent in the last 10 minutes of the half, as Granollers also started to find more difficulty against the German team's defence. But more critical was the other end of the court — after goalkeeper Rangel da Rosa caused some headaches for Füchse early on, the Berlin players started to look for different shooting options and began to beat the keeper with consistently.
So, the German side hold a four-goal edge at the half-time. Let's see if Granollers can find solutions in the break or if this is the start of the Berlin train heading full-speed towards the trophy.
18:24 FINAL | FÜCHSE BERLIN VS FRAIKIN BM. GRANOLLERS 8:9
20-minute mark now and Granollers are holding their advantage, having moved ahead by two more than once.
Rangel da Rosa is really making a case for himself as a potential MVP of the EHF Finals Men 2023, as he continues to be critical for Granollers, having now made four great saves to be winning the goalkeeper battle against Dejan Milosavljev.
18:15 FINAL | FÜCHSE BERLIN VS FRAIKIN BM. GRANOLLERS 4:5
Berlin created a 3:1 gap after seven minutes while Granollers took a little time to find their feet in attack, but the Spanish side showed patience as they came back to level and have now taken the lead for the first time (minute 13).
For many, Berlin are the favourites for the title due to their greater experience — for example, two current world champions, Mathias Gidsel and Hans Lindberg, in their starting line-up. Lindberg has just become the all-time top scorer of the Bundesliga, while Gidsel was named MVP of two major championships in the last two years: the 2023 World Championship and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games held in 2021, underlining the quality of these two alone.
They are joined by other national team staples, with numerous countries represented, while Granollers are comprised mainly of players who do not don their national team jerseys. The Spanish side are a young team so there is no doubt this is a David vs Goliath battle, but it already looks like Granollers are going to hold their own very well — and potentially even more than that.
18:05 FINAL | FÜCHSE BERLIN VS FRAIKIN BM. GRANOLLERS 2:1
Four minutes played in the final and we've had a save apiece from the goalkeepers — Rangel da Rosa for Granollers and Dejan Milosavljev for Berlin as the German side take a very early edge after the Spanish team scored the first of the game.
This is the first match between the sides in 40 years. The clubs met for their first and only clash prior to this in 1982/83 in the IHF Cup.
We are just minutes from throw-off in the final of the EHF European League Men 2022/23, and Füchse Berlin and Fraikin BM. Granollers are about to enter the court.
A memorable 3/4 placement match behind us — and now the trophy game to look forward to! Füchse Berlin and Fraikin BM. Granollers are on court for warm-up now, starting to get their throwing arms in.
But a little more attention on the 3/4 placement match first: Recap how Göppingen took the last available medal at the EHF Finals Men 2023 in the review below.
17:04 3/4 PLACEMENT MATCH: FULL-TIME | MHB VS GÖPPINGEN 29:33
A very well-played match from Göppingen, as they power to the full-time whistle to take third place in the EHF European League Men 2022/23. The German side may have had a rocky opening, but they improved constantly throughout the match to finish as the deserved winners.
16:59 3/4 PLACEMENT MATCH | MHB VS GÖPPINGEN 28:32
Along with Göppingen's defence, Marin Sego has emerged as the hero, as the goalkeeper now tallies eight saves and maintains a rate over 60 per cent. His saves have paved the way for the German team to take the lead, and with just over two minutes left, it looks as though Göppingen have third place pretty much locked up.
16:51 3/4 PLACEMENT MATCH | MHB VS GÖPPINGEN 27:29
A penalty goal from Marcel Schiller takes Göppingen in front by two for the first time in the, with just over seven minutes on the clock. It is the first two-goal gap in the game since the 41st minute, when Montpellier were in the lead. Will this end up being the decisive moment?
16:43 3/4 PLACEMENT MATCH | MHB VS GÖPPINGEN 25:26
There's little in it but there has been one small change: In the trading of goals, the last few minutes have seen Göppingen scoring first, leaving Montpellier to equalise.
Both teams changed keepers this half, with Marin Sego in for the German side and Charles Bolzinger in Montpellier's goal — and Sego is having a blinder. Playing against his former club, Sego has made three saves off five shots faced, making his rate an incredible 60 per cent. That has been key in turning the tide a touch in his team's favour.
16:30 3/4 PLACEMENT MATCH | MHB VS GÖPPINGEN 20:20
We're heading into edge-of-the-seat stuff in the 3/4 placement game, as the teams are now trading goals. The first level score of the match came courtesy of line player Blaz Blagotinsek, who equalised for Göppingen two minutes into the second half, at 18:18. Now we are at minute 39.
Blagotinsek is getting to know his future home arena this weekend, as he will join Flensburg for next season.
Although the game is level, Göppingen have outperformed Montpellier in attack this half, missing only one shot for a very high shooting accuracy of 80 per cent.
16:09 3/4 PLACEMENT MATCH: HALF-TIME | MHB VS GÖPPINGEN 17:16
We go to the break with a one-goal difference in the 3/4 placement match, leaving everything open for the second period.
15:59 3/4 PLACEMENT MATCH | MHB VS GÖPPINGEN 14:12
Göppingen have reeled their opponents back in and the momentum is clearly on more equal footing now. Göppingen have started to have much more success in defence, which has been a key factor, as goalkeeper Daniel Rebmann has now added five saves for his side and MHB's attacking efficiency has therefore dropped considerably.
15:43 3/4 PLACEMENT MATCH | MHB VS GÖPPINGEN 9:5
The first timeout is called by Göppingen coach Markus Baur as we near the 12-minute mark with Montpellier having established a clear lead.
The teams have taken almost the same number of shots but Montpellier are having far more joy in that area, having only missed one, while Göppingen have had missed four, including three stops made by MHB keeper Rémi Desbonnet.
15:31 3/4 PLACEMENT MATCH | MHB VS GÖPPINGEN 1:0
Starting whistle in Flensburg! The first of Sunday's matches is now underway, with Montpellier and Göppingen battling it out for bronze. The first goal of the game has already been scored by Montpellier's Julien Bos on a penalty.
Find out where you can watch in your country here.
The players are starting to leave the court after their warm-up to get ready for the pre-match procedure — and to decide third place in the EHF European League 2022/23!
While we wait for the matches to begin, read our special feature with Antonia Garcia Robledo, who our journalist Björn Pazen spoke to after their semi-final win yesterday.
"It is not a dream, it is a miracle. We try it again tomorrow, because the dream is not over. Tomorrow there is still one more step," he said.
While Montpellier and Göppingen warm up for the 3/4 clash, there is another kind of action ongoing elsewhere in Europe: the EHF Beach Handball EURO 2023! The event taking place in Nazare has just seen Denmark beat Portugal to clinch the men's bronze medal.
And this afternoon on the Home of Handball Twitch, you can keep up with all the action in both events by joining the watch-along, with moderator Bengt Kunkel and Bergischer HC's Arnor Gunnarsson, as well as special guests Alex Kulesh, Marcio Menino and MVP of the EHF Finals Women 2023 Emma Friis.
Speaking of individual statistics, let's talk Rangel da Rosa. Granollers' Brazilian goalkeeper was absolutely key for his side in the semi-final, with 14 saves — including two penalties — adding to the season tally that sees him as the clear leader for most saves in the season.
He has now made a total of 173 stops in the EHF European League Men 2022/23, and his average rate of 32.64 per cent is also one of the highest of the goalkeepers with most saves.
He will surely be critical for Granollers today in the final as well — but at the other end of the court waits another fearsom keeper: Dejan Milosavljev. Milosavljev made 11 saves in Berlin's semi-final and was very important in critical moments as well.
In short, we can definitely look forward to a great battle between the posts.
Checking in on the season's top scorer standings today, the crown is essentially already atop the winners' head: Odinn Thor Rikhardsson.
Rikhardsson scored 110 goals for Kadetten in the season. Second-ranked is Sporting CP's Martim Costa with 102, while FTC's Bence Nagy netted 99.
The only players with the chance to catch Rikhardsson are those playing today, and from those, the leader is Antonio Garcia Robledo. With 87 goals for Granollers, he needs 23 to level with Rikhardsson, which anyone familiar with handball knows is basically an impossible feat.
Berlin's Milos Vujovic is next behind Garcia of the players taking the court today, with 74.
We can never say it's over till it's over, but it looks like we can tip our hats to Rikhardsson now.
The team lists for the finals of the EHF European League Men 2022/23 have now been finalised and can be found by clicking the links below:
- final: Füchse Berlin vs Fraikin BM. Granollers
- 3/4 placement match: Montpellier HB vs Frisch Auf Göppingen
On the injury list since the semi-finals on Saturday are two Göppingen players: Sebastian Heymann and Tim Kneule. Aside from them and Berlin's Paul Drux, a notable absence is Montpellier back Diego Simonet, who was ruled out before the EHF Finals Men.
It's not all about the final today — there is also third position to be decided, and both Göppingen and Montpellier are keen to claim it.
It will be the third game between the teams this season, after each side won their home game in the group phase.
Göppingen played for third in the second-tier competition a few seasons ago, losing to Magdeburg in 2018. For Montpellier, it is the first time in this clash — they always reached the final when playing in a top-four format: the Champions League in 2018, which they won, and the EHF Cup in 2014, which they lost.
For both teams, it is a tough recovery after the semi-finals on Saturday, as both were dominant in the first halves before ultimately losing. For Göpppingen especially, the chance was there until the last attack when Jan Gurri struck to secure the win for Granollers.
Another fun fact about the final relates to the EHF Champions League: with Magdeburg and Barça set to duel in the semi-final at the TruckScout24 EHF FINAL4, either Germany or Spain are certain to have a finalist in the Champions League as well as the European League. And one of these great handball countries could even raise both trophies.
Also on the Germany and Spain front, Granollers have had a great season against German clubs. They enter the final against Berlin having beaten both Göppingen and Flensburg in the European League knockout stage.
With Germany the unrivalled powerhouse in the second-tier competition, having taken 25 titles in the history of the various iterations, this is no small feat. Spain have taken a collective five titles and are second-ranked in this statistic, underlining Germany's dominance at this level.
Let's start to dig into this final! Both teams have won the former iteration of the EHF European League, the EHF Cup, twice before.
For Berlin, it was much more recent — in 2015 and 2018, although only two the current players were part of those successes: Fabian Wiede and Paul Drux. Drux is currently injured and will not play the final. Wing Hans Lindberg was also part of the team in 2018. Aside from that, it is a new line-up that will vie for the club's first title in the European League.
If Füchse take the title, it will be Lindberg's third different European club trophy, after he won the EHF Champions League with Hamburg in 2013 and the EHF Cup in 2018.
Granollers' EHF Cup wins were much longer ago — almost three decades, in 1995 and 1996. In fact, the last time a Spanish team made it to the final of the second-tier European cup competition was in 2007, but Aragon were defeated by Magdeburg in that final, making Granollers' last success also the last second-tier men's trophy for the country.
The EHF's Respect Your Talent programme has been developed to help young players with a holistic approach to development as a professional athlete, and one RYT player was absolutely on fire yesterday: Granollers' Jan Gurri, who scored nine goals from nine shots.
Gurri's teammate Bruno Reguart is another RYT player for Granollers, whom eurohandball.com interviewed right before the EHF Finals Men 2023. Check out the feature here.
Getting you ready for the final and 3/4 placement match, journalist Björn Pazen has gathered all the important information surrounding the two games — and you can find it all in our match previews by clicking below.
Good morning and welcome to the final day of the EHF European League Men 2022/23! Today we will find the champions of the season, as Füchse Berlin and Fraikin BM. Granollers play the trophy game.
Here's what's coming up:
- Final: Füchse Berlin vs Fraikin BM. Granollers 18:00 CEST
- 3/4 placement match: Montpellier HB vs Frisch Auf Göppingen 15:30 CEST
Before we dive into the day ahead, recap all of yesterday's action with the live blog and match reviews from the semi-finals.