SEHA – Gazprom League Quarter finals are around the corner

Damir Bičanić

SEHA - Gazprom League eighth-finals are now behind us with eight of the best teams in the league left battling for four spots on SEHA Final 4 tournament which will in April be played in Zadar, Croatia. First SEHA Play-Off Quarter final matches are scheduled for Saturday which means that it is time to take a better look at what is waiting for us in these 1st leg clashes.

Meshkov Brest – Motor Zaporozhye
March 7th, Saturday (15.00 CET)

League's rookies Motor Zaporozhye have an impressive group phase behind them – eight wins, only two losses and a second position right behind Telekom Veszprem. Interesting is that this will be their third and fourth encounter of the season since they've already met twice in EHF Champions League group B with Belarusians reaching two victories. Neither team has unfortunately managed to reach the knock-out stage which means they've turned their full focus towards SEHA Final 4 battle. It will surely be a battle of two of League's highest scoring offenses with both teams scoring over 30 goals per match in average. Meshkov's prolific attacking schemes helped Mikita Vailupau set a new single-game scoring record with incredible 20 goals against Metaloplastika while Motor on the other hand participated in League's highest scoring match ever losing to Vardar 37:44. Matches between such two teams never cease to amaze and now that they're both out of EHF Champions League it is clear both teams will be highly motivated to prove everyone how good they actually are.

Tatran Presov – PPD Zagreb
March 7th, Saturday (17.15 CET)

Tatran and PPD Zagreb have both been a part of the League from its very beginnings. Croatian 'Lions' were more successful overall reaching final tournament in every of League's eight seasons while Slovak champs managed to do that only twice. However, what is interesting is that Presov seems to be an unbeatable fortress for PPD Zagreb who have never managed to celebrate in Slovakia. It will be interesting to see whether they'll pull it off in the first game of this season's SEHA Quarter finals with Final 4 spot on the line. In the last few seasons clashes between two teams were always additionally interesting because of the fact Slavko Goluza - former PPD Zagreb both coach and player is now coaching Tatran. Encounter between two teams have simply always been a holiday for handball fans and we have zero doubt anything is going to change this time.

Vojvodina – Telekom Veszprem
March 8th, Sunday (13.00 CET)

After reaching the Quarter finals after an amazing matchup against Metaloplastika, Vojvodina will now try to pull off what seems to be impossible and defeat one of the strongest teams in Europe at the moment and biggest favorites for SEHA - Gazprom League title this season – Telekom Veszprem. Vojvodina have throughout the season proved they've progressed as a team finishing group stage in fourth position, ahead of Nexe, and with the same amount of points as Tatran Presov which means they definitely can be a tough opponent for anyone to face. Eurofarm Pelister and Metaloplastika have by that proved Veszprem are not invincible but group phase is one thing and SEHA Play-Offs are something completely different. With a roster of players he has it is clear coach David Davis is aiming for the top in every competition Hungarian giants are a part of. Serbian champs have recently added experienced line player Rastko Stojkovic to their roster and it will be definitely interesting to see how will young, rising team be able to cope against the only team this season that has had three of its players awarded 'Player of the Month' title – Rasmus Lauge Schmidt (September), Manuel Strlek (October) and Borut Mackovsek (November).

Nexe – Vardar
March 8th, Sunday (17.00 CET)

Story of this matchup is similar to the one between PPD Zagreb and Tatran. Both teams have been a part of the League from its very beginnings. Vardar were obviously a lot more successful reaching five titles to go along with two European titles from Cologne, while Croatian vice-champions on the other side managed to book a place for themselves among the best four teams of the regional league only once. Nasice have, however, in the last two seasons proved to be one of Europe's toughest courts for the 'Red&Black' to play on as they have suffered two defeats (24:21, 42:26). In the last few weeks, one of Vardar's most important players Dainis Kristopans decided to part ways with the club as well as Pavel Atman and it will be interesting to see how much are they going to miss the two in what appear will be two tough, narrow encounters against Nexe. Luckily for their fans, they managed to reload their roster a bit a few days ago bringing back Marko Mishevski and highly-experienced goalkeeper Borko Ristovski. Nexe's coach Hrvoje Horvat is, on the other side, the only coach to be chosen twice as our 'Coach of the Month' so far this season and it will be great to see what did he prepare in his lab for reigning both European and SEHA champions.

As a cherry on top, SEHA prepared a few surprises. Download the SEHA App, answer the question and win two tickets for SEHA – Gazprom Final 4 2020!