Six years after its incredible triumph of 2016 (against Veszprem, 35-35, 4-3 pens), Kielce is back in the Champions League final. On Saturday, the Polish club and its two Blues, Dylan Nahi (2 goals) and Nicolas Tournat (4 goals), defeated Veszprem in the semi-finals (37-35), in the huge Lanxess Arena in Cologne. This will be the first C1 final for Nahi, who arrived from Paris-SG last summer, and the second for Tournat, after that of 2018 lost with Nantes against Montpellier (26-32).
Veszprem thought he had killed the ghost of 2016 by eliminating the Poles in the semi-finals of the 2019 edition (33-30), the last time Kielce arrived at the Final Four. But the players of Talant Dujshebaev have once again inflicted a “montada” on their favorite whipping boy.
The Hungarians had mastered the first period, with efficiency in attack (4 goals each for Petar Nenadic and Manuel Strlek) and saves (10) for Rodrigo Corrales. Despite a sumptuous double kung-fu initiated by Alex Dujshebaev and concluded by Igor Karacic via Dylan Nahi (3rd), Kielce was struggling (14-11, 22nd; 18-16 at the break).
All smiles in Kielce
But everything changed after the break. “In the dressing room, I told the guys that we just had to keep fighting, that our time would come, jubilant Alex Dujshebaev, the captain of Kielce, at the microphone of Eurosport. And when he came, we played so well, with a lot of patience. » Andreas Wolff came out of his den with a few well-regarded saves (9 saves in total), Uladzislau Kulesh dropped a few pralines and Veszprem completely foiled (21-25, 40th).
” I am so disappointed, launched the half-center Rasmus Lauge, who struggled in vain throughout the second act (8/9 to shoot). I feel like we played five against six for the first ten minutes of the second half, we made so many stupid mistakes. We didn’t fight as we should have and that hurts me a lot. » A red card for the defensive pillar Blaz Blagotinsek (35th), losses of the ball in spades, gross errors like this temporary exclusion for too many … And a coach, Momir Ilic, far too passive while his team was sinking.
Meanwhile, all was smiling for Kielce, who recovered plenty of balls after missed shots and scored despite unsteady passes. In the last moments, Veszprem regained hope when Gasper Marguc brought him back to two lengths, in numerical superiority (33-35, 59th). But the impeccable Polish right winger Arkasiusz Moryto extinguished the suspense by scoring his 8th goal of the day (100%), pivoting at the conclusion of a magnificent collective action (33-36, 59th).
This is the 7th time that Veszprem has failed at the Final Four in Cologne. Beaten three times in the final (2015, 2016, 2019), he conceded his fourth loss in the semi-finals in Cologne on Saturday.
It’s a new disappointment for Veszprem and his French center half Kentin Mahé (1/4 shooting but 3 assists), that his coach hardly played in the second half. The Magyar giant has still not managed to win the cup after which he has been chasing for thirty years and completes a second black season in a row, a week after losing the final of the Hungarian Championship against his rival Szeged (on goals against outside: 29-30, 29-28 outward).
Kielce and his backfiring attack continue, however, to ride a huge wave of confidence. Impressive in the group phase (1st in the terrible group B ahead of Barcelona, Paris, Veszprem and Flensburg), crushing Montpellier in the quarter-finals (31-28, 30-22), the Polish club will arrive without complex on Sunday in the final (18 hours at the Lanxess Arena).
Whatever their opponent after the clash of historic giants between FC Barcelona, defending champion, and Kiel, which will be played on Saturday at the end of the afternoon (6 p.m.), Kielce and its “yellow army” of supporters are obviously not afraid of anyone.