This weekend, the stunning climax to the 2008-09 season of the Euro Hockey League – Europe’s elite club hockey tournament for men - takes place in The Netherlands. 36 matches have been played so far in this year’s competition, reducing 24 of Europe’s best club teams down to just four, all of which will compete in EHL Final Four at H.C. Rotterdam this weekend. Reigning champions UHC Hamburg have battled their way once again to the Semi Final stage where they will face Belgium minnows KHC Leuven, a team that has surprised everyone by eliminating two European Champions. The second Semi Final is an all-Dutch affair, with Teun de Nooijer’s HC Bloemendaal taking on host club H.C. Rotterdam. The Semi Finals take place on Saturday, with the third place play-off and the EHL tournament Final taking place on Sunday. It promises to be a weekend of spectacular action featuring some of the world’s best players in arguably the world’s finest club competition.
More information about the Semi Finals can be found below.
Semi Final 1: UHC Hamburg v KHC Leuven
Saturday 30th May 2009 – 12:00 (CEST / GMT+1)
UHC Hamburg: When reigning EHL champions Uhlenhorster Hockey Club Hamburg started this year’s campaign with a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Polo Barcelona in November, many suggested that they would be lucky to get out of their group, let alone win the competition. Five months later the team are just two victories away from becoming the first side to successfully defend Europe’s top prize since namesakes Uhlenhorst Mülheim in 1996 thanks to stunning triumphs over Lille, Düsseldorfer and, most notably, Pol Amat’s Club Egara. Germany international midfielders Moritz Fürste and Carlos Nevado – both nominated for EHL’s Most Valuable Player Award – have been in sensational form, while goal scoring defender Patrick Breitenstein has a habit of producing his best performances in big games.
Previous Results: Round 1b - RC Polo Barcelona (ESP) Lost 4-1; Round 1b - Lille MHC (FRA) Won 4-2; KO16: - Düsseldorfer HC (GER) Won 3-2; KO8 - Club Egara HC (ESP) Won 4-3
KHC Leuven: No-one could have predicted this. KHC Leuven have proven all the doubters wrong by reaching the Semi Final stage, and now find themselves on the verge of becoming Belgium’s first ever winners of European hockey’s elite club prize. Their journey has not been easy, with the team being forced to fight their way past two former European champions in the shape of Atlétic Terrassa (1998) and Reading HC (2003). KHC Leuven are extremely strong in defence with Patrice Houssein and Spanish international Jordi Fabregas being key figures, whilst fellow Spaniard and forward Pau Quemada has been one of the outstanding players of this season’s Euro Hockey League.
Previous Results: Round 1b - Three Rock Rovers (IRL) Drew 1-1; Round 1b - Atlétic Terrassa (ESP) Won 3-1; KO16 - Three Rock Rovers (IRL) Won 2-1; QF - Reading HC (ENG) Won 2-1
Semi Final 2: HC Bloemendaal v H.C. Rotterdam
Saturday 30th May 2009 – 14.30 (CEST / GMT+1)
HC Bloemendaal: HC Bloemendaal have a 100% win record in this year’s competition and are desperately looking to lift Europe’s top prize for the first time since 2001. However, the Dutch champions were given an almighty scare in the Quarter Finals by East Grinstead of England, falling behind twice before a late Nick Meijer goal sealed victory. Bloemendaal are blessed with sensational players across the field, including two men who have won five FIH World Player of the Year Awards between them – legendary attacker Teun de Nooijer and Aussie superstar Jamie Dwyer. Dwyer missed KO16 due to the birth of his first child, but he – along with in-form Netherlands striker Ronald Brouwer – is expected to shine in Rotterdam.
Previous Results: Round 1a - Dinamo Kazan (RUS) Won 8-1; Round 1a - Cannock HC (ENG) Won 5-2; KO16 - Cannock HC (ENG) Won 3-1; QF - East Grinstead (ENG) Won 3-2
H.C. Rotterdam: Tournament hosts H.C. Rotterdam are making their second consecutive appearance in the EHL Semi Finals, and for a second time they face Dutch opposition. Last year, their injury-hit squad faced a full strength HGC who proved to be too good on the day. This time around they have everyone fully fit and available as they aim to get past Dutch rivals HC Bloemendaal. With the likes of world record goal-scorer Sohail Abbas, Netherlands forward Jeroen Hertzberger and New Zealand trio Ryan Archibald, Simon Child and Phil Burrows amongst their ranks, H.C. Rotterdam have a squad as good as any club side in the world and are more than capable of lifting the Alain Danet Trophy.
Previous Results: Round 1b - Western Wildcats (SCO) Won 5-0; Round 1b - Reading HC (ENG) Won 2-1; KO16 - WKS Gruwald Poznan (POL) Won 4-2; KO8 - Amsterdam H&BC (NED) Won 2-2 (3-5 APS)
EHLHOCKEY.TV - the official website of the Euro Hockey League - will be broadcasting all of the action from this weekend’s EHL Final Four event in Rotterdam via its live streaming service, ensuring that the outstanding conclusion to the tournament will be seen by as many people as possible. All four matches will be broadcasted live over two days of competition, with the coverage featuring the two exciting Semi Final clashes on Saturday 30th May with the Final and Third Place Play-Off on taking place on Sunday 31st May. It is your chance to watch arguably the world`s finest club competition being televised in the best way possible, with incredible close-ups, stunning camera angles and video replays all adding to the experience.
For more information about EHL Final Four and the Euro Hockey League, please visit www.ehlhockey.tv
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