News : THW Kiel wins the Champions League: Europe’s kings
A handball game is often a back and forth with constant changes in leadership, especially in the first few minutes, especially at the highest level, when two teams of equal value are facing each other – a real thrill. A Champions League final actually has all the prerequisites for a thrill. But the game for the title in the premier class between THW Kiel and FC Barcelona didn’t have much of it.
The Kielers were just too good for a handball thriller that evening. They didn’t make it exciting. Only between the 4:13 and 5:00 minutes was the THW behind for 43 seconds (2: 3), shortly before the break the team wobbled again briefly. Otherwise it was one-way street handball. In the end, the fourth Champions League title in the history of the Kiel club was clear – the final score in the Cologne arena was 33:28. After eight years, the people of Kiel are again Europe’s kings.
“We plowed so much,” said Patrick Wiencek inside the block and recalled the show of strength just the day before, when you had to torment yourself in extra time in the semi-final against Veszprém (this match was the famous handball thrill!) and goalkeeper Niklas Landin said, looking at the burden: “I don’t know where we conjured this up. You just get an extra push when you play a final. “
With Patrick Wiencek and the Danish keeper Landin (14 parades) you already have two players together who formed the pillars of Filip Jícha’s team that evening. But not just them.
A success for the team
The Swede Niclas Ekberg scored eight goals and was the best thrower from Kiel, circle runner Hendrik Pekeler was later awarded as a player of the tournament, the Croatian Domagoj Duvnjak gave the defensive stability with his strong presence and volume alone, Steffen Weinhold made a number of clever decisions in the build-up of the game Rune Dahmke, of whom you never really know whether he is international top class or the eternal talent, played with focus until the end and contributed five goals.
The list of pillars in Kiel is long. And one name is still missing: Sander Sagosen. In March 2019, the 25-year-old Norwegian, at that time still wearing the Paris Saint-Germain jersey, announced his move to Kiel for summer 2020. This transfer was not only associated with an exclamation mark for the THW, but for the whole league, as it had lost more and more world stars to foreign leagues in the past, to Poland, Hungary or France. Sagosen was proof that things can go the other way too.
The long wait for the world star was worth it. Sagosen is someone who can take the game to a higher level, especially since he combines important skills. He has tremendous jumping power, he is strong in the finish (seven hits in the final) and an excellent passer (three assists). All of this could already be seen at the annual Euro or World Championships in January (in 2019 he almost single-handedly pushed the DHB selection out of the tournament at the home World Cup), and now also at the club level for the THW. “I dreamed of this gold medal when I was five years old,” said the Norwegian superstar after the final.
Kiel took a financial risk and was rewarded
However, such an artist also has to be paid, allegedly Sagosen is said to earn 40,000 euros net a month. That’s why you shouldn’t underestimate the Champions League title (500,000 euros victory bonus) from a financial point of view, especially in times of Corona, where handball clubs are faced with particular burdens due to the lack of audience income.
One would like to know how Germany’s national coach Alfreð Gíslason felt after the final. The Icelander had coached Kiel from 2008 to 2019, during which time he won two Champions League titles with the club. So he should have been delighted for his long-term companions from Kiel. On the other hand: With the well-rehearsed inner block Wiencek / Pekeler and game designer Weinhold, he was once again shown the quality he and the national team will lack at the World Cup in Egypt, which starts on January 13th. The Kiel trio had canceled the national coach due to the corona pandemic, and some other players were missing due to injuries.
And that evening, national coach Gislason also saw outstanding performances from Landin, Sagosen and Duvnjak, i.e. international top stars who will compete for their home countries at the World Cup. The big handball nations from Denmark, Norway or Croatia, they are probably going to Egypt with the best line-up. This does not apply to Germany. The success in Kiel is likely to have been the sporting highlight of this winter for German handball. It doesn’t get nicer at first.