Füchse end Granollers’ fairy tale and claim trophy
Third season, third different winner of the EHF European League: After SC Magdeburg in 2021 and Benfica SL last year, Füchse Berlin took the trophy in 2023. In total, Berlin made it onto the winners’ podium of a European competition for the third time after winning the EHF Cup in 2015 on home ground and in 2018 in Magdeburg.
On Sunday in Flensburg, the Foxes were hunted by Fraikin BM. Granollers only in the initial stage. After a 6:0 run in the middle of the first half and a crucial 5:1 partial right after the break, Berlin took full control, outdistanced their opponent easily and finally took a 36:31 victory. And Füchse even carried a second trophy home to the German capital, as back Fabian Wiede was awarded MVP of the EHF Finals.
Since the implementation of the top-four format in the second-tier European cup competition in 2013, it was the eighth trophy for a German club in the competition. And by winning in Flensburg, Berlin secured an additional spot for the German Bundesliga in the European League 2023/24.
Granollers’ sensational fairy tale in this competition came to an end on Sunday, after eliminating German sides Flensburg and Göppingen in the quarter- and semi-finals. But the Spanish team can leave Flensburg heads held high, having won many new fans thanks to their great performances with their young team.
- in the opening period, Granollers impressed Berlin with their extremely fast play and Antonio Garcia Robledo as their leader in attack, taking an early lead
- the match was turned around within six minutes, when Granollers did not score any goal against the physically strong Füchse defence, which put enormous pressure on Garcia & Co. as Berlin recorded a 6:0 run from 7:9 to 13:9
- in the last minutes of the first half, Berlin defended this margin thanks to two Danes — some hammer shots from Lasse Andersson and magic moments from Mathias Gidsel
- right after the break, Berlin handed the knockout strike to their opponents within only four minutes, pulling ahead to 20:13, boosted by the saves of Dejan Milosavljev, needle-sharp counter attacks, brilliant strikes from Wiede and the fact that Granollers had completely lost their pace. Latest at 24:15, the deal was sealed
- despite being down by six to nine goals from that point, Granollers showed great morale, still boosted by their incredible fans, who sang and shouted as if their team had won
- the top scorers of the final were Andersson (eight goals), MVP Wiede and Hans Lindberg (each six) for Berlin. Garcia Robledo and Esteban Salinas netted seven times each for Granollers
15 victories in 16 matches — Füchse fully deserve this trophy
Maybe it was the experience of playing their sixth final in EHF club competitions, maybe it was the individual class of their stars — but either way, definitely Füchse Berlin are the deserved European League winners of the 2022/23 season.
The team of young coach Jaron Siewert won 15 of 16 European League matches, and were only defeated by one team: Schaffhausen in the first leg of the quarter-final. The signing of 2023 World Championship and Olympic Games MVP Gidsel last summer was the missing puzzle piece. Gidsel’s magic moments were the key in tricky situations like in the second leg against Schaffhausen or the crucial periods in both matches of the EHF Finals.
While Gidsel took his first trophy with Berlin, EHF Finals MVP Wiede and currently injured Paul Drux have been part of all three winning squads, in 2015, 2018 and 2023. Danish right wing Lindberg now has three different gold medals in international club competitions, after winning the EHF Champions League in 2015 and the EHF Cup in 2018. Outstanding goalkeeper Milosavljev, who took the Champions League trophy with Vardar in 2019, is now also European League winner.
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.
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.