It was a special tournament in very special times, but finally, everybody was extremely happy about the way it worked: The 2020 edition of the SEHA - Gazprom League Final 4 fulfilled all hopes, expectations and the motto HANDBALL IS BACK! “We have to praise all the people, who organized this really great event despite all problems. This was a perfect re-start of handball,” said Raul Alonso, coach of Meshkov Brest after the end of the event at Zadar, Croatia.
Alonso and his team finished on the bronze position, ahead of PPD Zagreb, but the great winners of the 2019/20 season of the SEHA - Gazprom League were Telekom Veszprem. Twelve victories in 14 matches, including two dominant games at the Final 4 were the outcome of the new SEHA - Gazprom League champions. For the third time after 2015 and 2016, Veszprem are the champions, and they continued their series that they make it to the final in every season, they are part of the competition.
“We came here to fight for the trophy and we made it. My team played a fantastic weekend, full of focus. We were ready for this tournament and showed really great performances,” said Veszprem coach David Davis: “I hope we can continue in this way, without any problems.”
After a weak start in the semi-final against Meshkov Brest, Veszprem constantly improved in the event, finally won the semi well-deserved by 28:24, but then highlighted their strong comeback in the SEHA -Gazprom League by a more than impressive performance in the final, beating Vardar 1961 35:28 - the second-biggest gap ever in any SEHA final.
The defending champions and record winners Vardar 1961 were chanceless and were defeated for the first time at a SEHA - Gazprom League Final 4 since 2016, when they had lost the final against Veszprem at Brest. After winning the trophy in 2012, 2014 and three times from 2017 until 2019, now it was silver medals for the team of head coach Stevche Alushovski: “We had hoped to surprise Veszprem, but in the end, Veszprem are the better team at the moment and well-deserved took the trophy.” Besides, Alushovski was extremely happy with the event: “It was an amazing job of the organizers, the tournament has shown the right way for handball in the future.”
The dominance of Veszprem at Zadar was also proved by the composition of the All-Star Team with five players of the new champions including the MVP, goalkeeper Rodrigo Corrales, who was Veszprem’s match-winner both in the semi-final and the final. The top scorer of the 2019/20 season was Meshkov’s right-wing Mikita Vailupau by 111 goals, including eight at the Final 4.
All four Final 4 participants were extremely happy to have the opportunity to play on the highest level before they all will start their EHF Champions League season in only ten days. Veszprem have even more chance to win an international trophy in 2020 - as they are the only SEHA - Gazprom team, which qualified for the postponed EHF Champions League Final 4 on 28/29 December in Cologne.
All-Star Team of the 2020 SEHA - Gazprom League Final 4:
Goalkeeper: Rodrigo Corrales (Telekom Veszprem)
Left wing: David Mandic (PPD Zagreb)
Left back: Alexander Shkurinskyi (Meshkov Brest)
Centre back: Lovro Jotic (Vardar 1961)
Right back: Jorge Maqueda (Telekom Veszprem)
Right wing: Gasper Marguc (Telekom Veszprem)
Line player: Andreas Nilsson (Telekom Veszprem)
Defender: Blaz Blagotinsek (Telekom Veszprem)
MVP: Rodrigo Corrales (Telekom Veszprem)