PPD Zagreb have managed to book a place for themselves on each of seven SEHA - Gazprom League tournaments so far, going all the way once, being the only team to secure a title next to Vardar and Veszprem. Their title dates all the way back to League's second season and Skopje, where coach Boris Dvorsek led them to the top. This will be their eighth final tournament appearance after losing last season's final against Vardar in Skopje. They also have three bronze medals.
This season they managed to finish the regular part of the season with 13-5 score which was, in the end, enough for second place, losing in Brest, Skopje, Nasice and Presov. They also lost at home versus Slavko Goluza and his players, with Tatran Presov ending up being the only team to defeat them in both of their encounters this season. Biggest win was the one they reached in Skopje against Metalurg (+12) and the biggest defeat in Slovakia against Tatran (-10).
They also managed to finish EHF Champions League group B on sixth position with 11 points securing a place among 14 of the best European teams which they failed to do last season. Their eighth-finals opponents were probably their biggest SEHA rivals – Vardar from Skopje.
Croatian champs went through many roster changes with Mandalinic, Skok, Miklavcic, Dobrivoje, and Zarko Markovic, Pavlovic, Vuglac, Josip and Tonci Valcic as well as Vori leaving them from the last season. However, even without them, Zagreb were able to keep up with the best. Lino Cervar led the team from the bench in the first part of the season but as national team duties emerged for him, he decided to move on. Branko Tamse overtook the coaching job and reached the main goals for the season – SEHA Final 4 and Champions League eighth-finals.
Zlatko Horvat, as always, was one of PPD Zagreb’s most reliable players. This season he scored 75 goals and also became the top scorer in history of the SEHA – Gazprom League. It was only right that he also got the most votes for the League MVP. 640 goals and 7 Final 4 tournaments later, Horvat will lead his PPD Zagreb in the quest for their second SEHA title.
The ream was also rejuvenated with David Mandic and Ivan Srsen being the biggest, most pleasant surprises. Lovro Jotic came back from Denmark, Slovenian Gregor Potocnik came from Gorenje Velenje, and young Aleks Vlah did a good job since coming in winter. When we add experienced Horvat, Bicanic, Buric and Kontrec into the equation as well as solid defense and great goalkeeping duo Kastelic – Ristanovic, it becomes clear that this new PPD Zagreb did a great job and are coming to Brest with big ambitions. They will have special motivation, because last time, in 2017, they finished fourth at the SEHA Final 4. This will be Branko Tamse’s second Final 4 appearance in a row, since he won a bronze medal with Celje PL last year, losing to PPD Zagreb and beating Meshkov Brest. However, this time things will be different, there are no clear favourites, and every team definitely has a chance. Croatian champions already beat all three participants of the Final 4 in the regular season, we will see if they can do it again!