Aalborg's run to the Final4
On Saturday afternoon, Paris Saint-Germain Handball will play in the fifth EHF Final4 in club history - a fifth appearance over the last six seasons. Les Rouge et Bleu will face Aalborg in the semi-final at the Lanxess Arena in Cologne. Take a look at the Danish team's run to showpiece season showdown!
The group stage
The task was not easy for Aalborg, who found themselves in a group with reigning European champs Vardar Skopje, 2019-20 winners THW Kiel and fellow 2020-21 Final4 contenders Barcelona and Nantes). The Red and Whites did very well, finishing fourth in Group B with 14 points (seven wins, seven losses), even winning at the Veszprém Arena (30-32), thanks to seven goals from former Parisian Henrik Mollgaard. They also dominated when they played host to The H (32-24). These performances enabled them to finish ahead of Nantes, but also only two points behind the Kielers.
Round of 16
In the next round, the Danes had to face Porto, who had finished fifth in the other group, after a campaign that saw them cause a lot of big teams a lot of problems. It was one of the most tightly contested round of 16 ties, with Paris Saint-Germain Handball's upcoming opponents earning qualifications on away goals! Beaten by three points in the first leg in Portugal (32-29), they had to be very solid defensively a week later in the return leg. With only 24 goals conceded and 27 scored, Aalborg came back on level terms and proved more efficient in defence on their home ground. Stefan Madsen's men were still trailing with a minute to go (59': 26-24), but Magnus Jensen gave his side the lead and sent them through to the next round.
There are no small teams in the quarter-finals, but the side that Aalborg ousted was a particularly impressive one: Flensburg. This time the first leg was played in the Jutlander Bank Arena in Denmark, and the home side surprised everyone with a fantastic performance! By totally thwarting the German offensive line (only 47% shooting efficiency and 16 saves by Mikael Aggefors), they were able to extend their lead and put themselves in a fairly comfortable position (26-21) before travelling to the Flens-Arena. But a five-goal lead can quickly evaporate. Aalborg almost saw this for themselves as they came close to elimination but, despite their 33-29 defeat, they qualified for the Final4 for the first time in club history!
The club's top scorer is left-back Nikolaj Laeso. The 24-year-old sits 19th on the competition's scorers chart with 61 goals (tied with our right-back, Nedim Remili). His best performance of the season was against Barcelona (32-35), where he kept his team in the game for a long time by finding the net ten times - not bad for the former Aarhus man who was in the midst of his his first-ever Champions League campaign! Not far behind the Danish international (who was crowned World Champion last January) are several of his teammates, with Sebastian Barthold and Magnus Jensen (58 goals), but also Henrik Mollgaard and Lukas Sandell (54).
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Goals scored: 508
Goals conceded: 521