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Date: 07.09.2016

The final day of matches at the 2016 IHF Super Globe arrives on Thursday, and it brings with it the ultimate game starring the champions of the 2015 event, Germany’s Fuchse Berlin, and debut Super Globe side – but far from inexperienced – Paris Saint-Germain Handball. 

On paper PSG are the natural favourite considering their line-up, which includes seven medallists from the 2016 Olympic Games – champions from Denmark Mikkel Hansen and Henrik Mollgaard, French silver medallists Nikola and Luka Karabatic, Daniel Narcisse and Thierry Omeyer, and bronze medallist with Germany Uwe Gensheimer. 

Four of those players are either former or current World Handball Players of the Year, and two of them have won the coveted award twice: Mikkel Hansen in 2015 and 2012, Nikola Karabatic in 2014 and 2011, Daniel Narcisse in 2012 and Thierry Omeyer in 2008. As an added bonus, the powerful team also count a number of important new transfers such as Gensheimer, Croatian Luka Stepancic, Swedish Jesper Nielsen, and Slovenian Gorazd Skof. 

“I think they’re getting to know our way of play, our tactics. It’s not easy because we have only 10 days of practice and we have a lot to prepare, some injured players, so we have to manage this,” says Nikola Karabatic regarding the new players joining PSG’s roster for the 2016/17 season. “I think until now we have a lot of work to do, but we are quite happy with the integration of the players.”

Even before counting the new stars on their squad list PSG were a formidable side, ranking third in the VELUX EHF Champions League last season after losing the semi-final to the team that would become their semi-final opponent at the 2016 IHF Super Globe, Vive Tauron Kielce. The French champions had the consolation of beating Germany’s THW Kiel in the bronze-medal match at the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in Cologne, but at the 2016 Super Globe they turned the tables, recording a strong win against Kielce to earn a place in the final and send the Polish side to contest third place. 

As the 2016/17 season begins, with several teams playing their first official matches at the 2016 Super Globe, Paris are promising to be an even stronger team than they were in 2015/16 – but Berlin enter the final with the confidence of last year’s momentous victory behind them. Berlin’s path to the final was perhaps more difficult in 2015, as they defeated Club Africain in the quarter-final, the 2015 EHF Champions League champions FC Barcelona Lassa in the semi-final stage, and the runners-up of the 2015 Champions League, MVM Veszprem, in the extra-time final. 

German right back Fabian Wiede, who was also a bronze medallist for his nation at Rio 2016, said his team remain focused on recording a momentous win as they did at the 2015 edition:

“It’s not easy! They [PSG] have a lot of very, very good handball players, so it will be very, very, very tough, but last year we won against Barcelona and Veszprem so we know in this tournament anything can happen,” said the right back following their semi-final win against Al-Sadd. 

Berlin boast a strong roster of their own with some new arrivals that have bolstered their numbers, including Germany back Steffen Fath and Croatian Kresima Kozina to add to a list that includes several national team stars such as Norway’s Kent Robin Tonnesen, Drago Vukovic and Jakov Gojun, also from Croatia, Swedish Mattias Zachrisson, Czech Republic goalkeeper Petr Stochl, and Germany centre back Paul Drux. 

Nevertheless, they will find a challenge in the form of PSG, particularly as the French side welcome back Hansen, who was off court in the semi-final with a one-match ban following a direct red card and subsequent blue card in their quarter-final clash against Esperance Sportive de Tunis. Coach Erlingur Richardsson knows his team are capable of a win, but that they will need to be at their best to pull it off:  

“I think that is my job for tonight! To analyse Paris and see what we can do,” said the Icelander after their semi-final victory. “We need to play one of our best games to win.”

Prior to the final, the remaining six teams will take to the court for their respective placement matches. The day will open with Sydney University Handball Club taking on Handebol Taubate for seventh, before ES Tunis meet Lekhwiya to determine the fifth-ranked side. The teams defeated in the semi-final stage, Kielce and Al-Sadd, will take to the court to decide bronze, after which the final will be played. 

Match schedule for Thursday 8 September in Duhail Sports Hall
7/8 Placement match: Sydney University Handball Club (AUS) vs Handebol Taubate (BRA) 13:00 local time
5/6 Placement match: Lekhwiya (QAT) vs Esperance Sportive de Tunis (TUN) 15:00 local time
Bronze-medal match: Al-Sadd (QAT) vs Vive Tauron Kielce (POL) 17:00 local time
Final: Fuchse Berlin (GER) vs PSG Handball (FRA) 19:00 local time