After a busy day on the beach at the Champions Cup, the line-up of the men’s and women’s finals were complete.
Making up the finals across the men’s and women’s competitions are a team from Italy who have made it all the way through, two in-form Spanish sides and one familiar team steeped in Champions Cup glory all eyeing gold on the final day.
What went down on Saturday? Let us run you through what happened…
The men’s final promises to be a mouth-watering contest as two unbeaten teams go head-to-head in the quest for gold, when three-time winners Ekaterinodar from Russia face in-form Spaniards Pinturas Andalucía BM Playa Sevilla.
This season’s ebt Finals champions Sevilla continued their red hot season by reaching yet another final with two wins on Saturday. Their quarter-final victory saw them end reigning champions Detono Zagreb’s hopes of earning back-to-back titles. The Spaniards then saw off the challenge of German outfit BHC Beach & Da Gang Münster in the semi-final 22:12, 24:20.
There has been no stopping Vladimir Kalashnikov’s Ekaterinodar Krasnodar on their march to a fifth straight final. After losing in last year’s gold medal match to Detono, the Russian side have won all five matches in Catania. They crushed Hiekka Hausakka of the Netherlands in their quarter-final, conceding just 18 points, and then saw off the French challenge of Team Tchatcheur by PAUC in the semi-final.
The two finalists met in Group B earlier in the competition with Ekaterinodar beating Sevilla 2:0 on Friday. Sunday’s final is going to be unmissable and a fitting end to the 2019 beach season.
With reigning champions Szentendrei crashing out after the group stages there will be a new name on the Champions Cup trophy – either Taberna El Panduro A M Team Almeria or home favourites Blue Team.
Blue Team have enjoyed a fantastic tournament on home sand, which began on the opening day of the tournament with a shootout win over Szentendrei. Their quarter-final win also came courtesy of a victory in a shootout, this time against JuRo Unirek/VZV from the Netherlands. Their route to the final came in a more straightforward fashion, thanks to a comfortable semi-final victory over Odder Håndbold from Denmark. The Italians never looked in trouble, and cruised to a fine 20:14, 24:16 win with Caroline Lucarini scoring 10 points.
Having won all six of their matches in a superb unbeaten run, Almeria look strong favourites to become the third Spanish winners of the women’s title. Coach Agustin Collado Rodrigeuz’s side have been in scintillating form so far in Sicily and their two wins on Saturday further highlighted their credentials. The Spanish side, who ended the 2018/19 season second in the ebt rankings, thrashed Portuguese side GRD Leca 20:6, 20:8 in their quarter-final match but needed to overcome Slovakian side Sport Club Senec in a tense shootout to ensure their place in the final.
The final countdown
It is the final day of action on Sicily on Sunday with the gold and bronze medal matches bringing an end to a unforgettable four days of action in the shadow of Mount Etna.
The women’s final throws off at 14:30 hrs CEST before the men’s gold medal match begins an hour later at 15:40 hrs CEST. The awards ceremony follows the conclusion of that game at 16:30 hrs CEST.
Placement matches begin the day, however, with the first matches scheduled at 09:15 hrs CEST.
Every match on courts 1 and 2, including both finals, are live on ehfTV.com, while highlights, photographs and reaction behind-the-scenes will be available across the EHF Beach Handball Instagram channel, Facebook page and YouTube channel.
See you @ the beach!