German FINAL FOUR a carbon copy of 2017 match-ups

©: Frank Uijlenbroek/world Sport Pics



The German FINAL FOUR will be a carbon-copy line-up of 2017 this weekend with Rot-Weiss Koln against Harvestehuder THC and Uhlenhorst Mulheim versus Mannheimer providing the semi-final pairings.

Rot-Weiss topped the regular season campaign and go into their tie as favourites but know that HTHC can cause them plenty of problems when they meet in Krefeld.

"I do not need anyone to warn us about the HTHC," said Cologne coach André Henning. "We've played against them too often and it was always close.

“Nevertheless, we accept the role of favourites. We are used to that too. I also think that we have more players, in terms of individual quality, who can decide a FINAL FOUR match.

“Still, you have to put in a good team performance to be successful. And so we have been on a really good run in the last few games, fine tuning to be able to bring our top performance to the season's peak.”

They have seen some of their injured stars return to action, too, with Timur Oruz the latest to rejoin the camp in the Bundesliga in recent weeks.

For Harvestehuder, international goalkeeper Tobias Walter will say his farewells for two years – signing terms with Dragons in Belgium – at the event.

"We have lost a couple of narrow semi-finals against Cologne. Now we're just going to go for it!" Walter said ahead of the game.

They have won 13 points from their last five league games to show they are in great form.

“This shows that we have a true team structure. Cologne is clearly superior to us individually but if we can quickly get into the match and make it balanced for a long time, the chance of winning a final place increases more and more."

Both teams have long-term injuries with Hendrik Schwarzer and Florian Adrians (Rot-Weiss Köln) and as well as Richard Dawson-Smith (HTHC).

The second semi-final on Saturday is likely to go down to the wire.

"Of the games of recent years, we once won a match narrowly but there have been six or seven draws," recalls Mannheim coach Michael McCann. The 2017 semi was decided on a shoot-out while their meeting in mid-April was also a 1-1 tie.

Mulheim have regularly had a higher possession percentage in such games but Mannheim have proven the more efficent in the circles, something which Omar Schlingemann says will be a key factor.

“Mannheim are extremely dangerous for all teams. They do not have many chances but they are ice cold in the circle,” the coach said. “Last year in the semi-finals, we had a lot of bad luck, hitting the post twice. I think it will be a nice match for the fans!"