“Only a goal or a loose ball will decide our semifinal”. That’s what Katarina Bulatović said before the competition started. And she nailed it. With only 8 seconds left, the conducted by Dragan Adžić were unable to put together the last play of the match that could’ve ended up in a tie that would have led to extra time. She stared blankly in the press conference room, alongside her coach. A look that said it all. “We have played so so badly”, she admitted.
A very tough match was expected, and it was indeed. After only three minutes, the referees had already shown a total of four yellow cards. The ‘battle’ had only begun. Dragana Cvijic and Heidi Løke were not going to let it go that easy. And among all the pushing, shoving and grabbing, a player with the number 27 on the back was the compass for the home team. The astonishing sharpness of Nycke Groot, that no longer surprises but continues to marvel, gave some fresh air to Györ which seemed to take the wheel right before the end of the end of the first half. On the other side, Cristina Neagu was trying her best to keep calm and show her better version, but that would only happen on the second half.
Meanwhile, Györ’s Norwegian goalkeeper Kari Grimsbø, found the perfect balance with her defense. “I think this is the most important thing for a goalkeeper. To work so well with the defense, and I think that today we have done it perfectly, so that’s why we have gone from down to up in every situation”, she would state after the match. But Buducnost stepped on the gas and showed why they’re the reigning champions of Europe. They came back to the game and with a better version of their leader Neagu they made all the Györ fans present in the stadium, fear the worst. But it was not enough and that last ball that could’ve led to an extra time was far from becoming a golden goal.
Only a few metres away from Adžić’s lost stare, the relief, satisfaction and happiness from Ambros Martin contrasted. The Spanish coach thanked both teams for a high level battle. “It was exciting until the very end, it has been a really high level battle, with a really high level at both defenses. We are satisfied for today”.
Martin is clearly thinking of the final match already: “we have now some hours to recover, and to think in the big final of tomorrow”. And so do their players, who might also be thinking of the 60 minutes that separate them from lifting that much wanted trophy again. “Tomorrow we will recover our fast play, which I think it’s our most important advantage. And of course, as we did today, if there are ups and downs, we need to speak to each other as always, trying to decide what to do and solving every problem to change the situation”.
The importance of the EHF Final 4 is incalculable because the results of the entire season come down to this weekend. At least the dreamed ones. If they’re positive, then everything will have been worth it. If not, everything they have given, all of the heart and strive they have put since the beginning of the season seems to be worthless. Although it isn’t. The teams continue to grow, and so do the players; and along with them women’s handball does. More spectacular and wonderful every time. Today, the scales inclined for the Hungarian side, but the show must go on for everyone.
Original text by: Nagore Odriozola
Translation by: Laura Agena