On Milosavljev and Lindberg's wings, Berlin fly to the final
For the sixth time since 2015, Füchse Berlin have reached the final of a European cup competition: By beating Montpellier HB in the first semi at the EHF Finals Men 2023 in Flensburg 35:29, the team of head coach Jaron Siewert made a step towards their third trophy, after they won the EHF Cup in 2015 and 2018.
After a slow start, Berlin accelerated after 20 minutes, when goalkeeper Dejan Milosavljev (11 saves in total) was on fire. After being down 11:14, Berlin sealed the deal at 28:21.
Berlin’s top scorers were Hans Lindberg (eight goals), Mathias Gidsel and Mijajlo Marsenic (both six), while Yannis Lenne and Julien Bos netted six times for Montpellier. Füchse’s final opponent will be confirmed in the second semi between Fraikin BM. Granollers and Frisch Auf Göppingen.
- Montpellier were the clearly stronger team in the first 20 minutes, backed by the saves of Rémi Desbonnet and being much more efficient and quicker in attack, while Berlin did not find their rhythm
- everything changed when Füchse goalkeeper Dejan Milosavljev improved — Montpellier struck only once in eight minutes after the score of 14:11, while Berlin used a 4:0 run to level the result before half-time
- though he missed two penalties before and after the break, Füchse veteran Hans Lindberg was the top scorer after 30 minutes with five goals, including four penalties, and ultimately topped the list with eight goals
- Berlin were on a high right after the break and extended their run to 10:4, when two Serbians were the crucial factors: Milosavljev shut his goal despite a head shot, and line player Mijajlo Marsenic was unstoppable. Montpellier coach Patrice Canayer needed an early timeout after five minutes as his side fell behind 18:21
- being shorthanded several times, Montpellier could not stop Berlin’s express mode — and the Foxes stilled their goal hunger by pulling ahead to 25:19 in minute 41 with Lindberg on fire again
- Berlin’s 500th goal in this European League season, scored by Milos Vujovic for 28:21, sealed the deal 11 minutes before the end
Berlin’s deeper bench secure the spot in the final
They had the better goalkeeper (Milosavljev), the top scorer (Lindberg) and some magic moments from Mathias Gidsel — but in the end, Füchse Berlin’s semi-final victory was a team success. The 2015 and 2018 EHF Cup winners had stronger options and quality coming from the bench, their rotation was on a higher level, and their key players could therefore save more power than Montpellier’s stars.
Marsenic and Max Darj were superb sharing the line player position, as Tim Freihöfer and Milos Vujovic were on the left wing. Only veteran Hans Lindberg did not need any replacement, but ran and ran and scored and scored.
Both sides had to replace their regular playmakers due to injuries, Diego Simonet (Montpellier) and Paul Drux (Berlin), and both sides coped with this situation in different, but successful ways. While Montpellier still have an experienced alternative in Stas Skube, who was among the top scorers, Berlin used either Lasse Andersson or the rotation of their left handers Mathias Gidsel and Fabian Wiede in the centre back.
Photos: kolektiff/Axel Heimken
Montpellier played very well, and we had some problems at the start. But we really fought until the end, and from the last 10 minutes of the first half on, we could turn the match around. The crucial time was right after the break, when our goalkeeper was perfect and we scored from almost every attack. This was phenomenal.