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Can anyone beat Bloemendaal, EHL Final 4

EHL Men’s FINAL4 sees Royal Léopold, Uhlenhorst Mülheim and Atlètic Terrassa all endeavouring to reach their first ever GRAND FINAL, joining one of the competition’s most decorated clubs, HC Bloemendaal for this weekend’s action.

Here’s a breakdown of how the sides are shaping up ahead of Saturday’s FINAL4 contests:

EHL Final 4 Poster featuring Eva de Geode
Bloemendaal are the the hot favourites for the EHL crown, but first they must overcome Belgian league leaders Royal Leopold

Saturday, April 3 (all games at Wagener Stadium, Amstelveen)

Match 3: HC Bloemendaal (NED) v Royal Leopold (BEL), 4.15pm (CET)

Bloemendaal started this current season like a house on fire with 12 successive league wins in the Hoofdklasse, the first time this had been done in over a decade. Since then, they have suffered a few blips but they bounced back with an important 2-0 win over HGC and then hammered Hurley 9-2 to build an eight-point lead in the Hoofdklasse.

The three-time EHL champions have undergone an overhaul since they won the 2018 EHL. Only eight of their final winning side are back: Tim Swaen, Roel Bovendeert, Thierry Brinkman, Yannick van der Drift, captain Glenn Schuurman, Jasper Brinkman, Florian Fuchs and Floris Wortelboer.

Out have gone Jamie Dwyer, Xavi Lleonart, Jaap Stockmann, Manu Stockbroekx and Tim Jenniskens. In has come a glut of star quality in two-time FIH player of the year Arthur van Doren, attacking livewire Jorrit Croon and the much travelled Tom Hiebendaal.

Hiebendaal has an EHL winner’s medal from 2011 with HGC when he was 17 but almost three years of injuries set him back before rejuvenating his career with Uhlenhorst Mülheim, scoring nine times in 11 games in a short, corona-affected stint. Tim Swaen’s rocket corners are always a feature as is Roel Bovendeert’s predatory instincts.

They could also feature Wouter Jolie who made a comeback in recent months; if he plays, they will be his first EHL games since 2015.

For Léopold, their big news is top scorer Tom Boon passed a fitness test in midweek and so is available to play. He has already scored 28 times for the Brussels club this season and gets to line out against his former club with whom he played in the EHL in 2015, winning a bronze medal.

His attacking partnership with Max Plennevaux is one of the most exciting in European club hockey while Nicolas Poncelet is their other Belgian Red Lion, operating usually down the right flank from the back. French duo Gaspard Baumgarten and Jean-Baptiste Forgues bring Gallic flair.

Beyond those star names, much of the club’s strength comes from its long-term soldiers, guys like Dimitri Cuvelier, Tanguy Zimmer, Arthur Verdussen and Romain Henet and youth products like Dylan Engelbert, Max Muschs, Corentin de Trez and Lewis Eaton.

Leo is one of Belgian hockey’s original clubs and was there at the formation of their national association and has won the most domestic titles – 28. They are in the mix for another, leading their section of the Belgian league with two matches left before the playoffs but it is a tenuous state of affairs with La Gantoise and KHC Dragons both within two points.

Factfile

HC Bloemendaal

EHL history

2007/08 – KO16
2008/09 – Winners
2009/10 – KO8
2010/11 – KO8
2011/12 – KO8
2012/13 – Winners
2014/15 – FINAL4
2017/18 – Winners
2019/20 (incomplete season due to Covid-19) – FINAL8

Hoofdklasse position: 1st place (46 out 51 points)

Current internationals: Jorrit Croon, Glenn Schuurman, Roel Bovendeert, Maurits Visser, Thierry Brinkman, Floris Wortelboer all Netherlands; Arthur van Doren with Belgium; Florian Fuchs with Germany

Top scorers: Tim Swaen 16 goals, Roel Bovendeert 9 goals

Preview interviews: Tom Hiebendaal

2021KS b21i9351 - Can anyone beat Bloemendaal, EHL Final 4 - EHL Men’s FINAL4 sees Royal Léopold, Uhlenhorst Mülheim and Atlètic Terrassa all endeavouring to reach their first ever GRAND FINAL, joining one of the competition’s most decorated clubs, HC Bloemendaal for this weekend’s action.
WASSENAAR – Tom Hiebendaal (Bldaal) tijdens de hoofdklasse hockeywedstrijd mannen, HGC-Bloemendaal (0-2) . (HGC) . COPYRIGHT WORLDSPORTPICS KOEN SUYK

Royal Leopold

EHL history

2012/13 – KO16
2015/16 – KO16
2016/17 – ROUND1
2018/19 – KO16 – won 9th place ranking match
2019/20 (incomplete season due to Covid-19) – FINAL8

Audi League position: 1st Group A, top three covered by two points (La Gantoise and KHC Dragons the other clubs)

Current internationals: Nicolas Poncelet, Max Plennevaux, Tom Boon – all Belgium; Jean-Baptiste Forgues, Gaspard Baumgarten – both France

Top scorers: Tom Boon 28 goals, Max Plennevaux 12 goals, Arthur Verdussen 7 goals

Preview interviews: Nicolas Poncelet

Head to head: first EHL meeting

2018FFU 0072 - Can anyone beat Bloemendaal, EHL Final 4 - EHL Men’s FINAL4 sees Royal Léopold, Uhlenhorst Mülheim and Atlètic Terrassa all endeavouring to reach their first ever GRAND FINAL, joining one of the competition’s most decorated clubs, HC Bloemendaal for this weekend’s action.
BARCELONA – Euro Hockey League 2018-2019 Royal Leopold HC v WKS Grunwald Poznan (Pool C) Foto: Nicolas Poncelet WORLDSPORTPICS COPYRIGHT FRANK UIJLENBROEK

Match 4: Uhlenhorst Mülheim (GER) v Atlètic Terrassa (ESP)

While the two sides have only met once in the Euro Hockey League – a 4-2 ROUND1 win for Uhlenhorst in 2011 – this is a match-up with loads of history, dating back to the old European Club Champions Cup. The two clubs met in four finals in 1989, 90, 91 and 92 with the German club winning each time amid an incredible run of nine successive European titles.

Atlèti, meanwhile, won in 1985 and then again in 1998, beating Mülheim in the group stages to that latter triumph. So typical of club hockey, lots of names traverse the generations with the fathers and sons from the Malgosa, Escudé and Cortès families in both teams while Windfeder, Hellwig and Brinkmann features in both Uhlenhorst eras.

For Uhlenhhorst, it is 25 years since their last Euro title and they do so with a very strong line-up featuring seven current members of the German international panel while 18-year-old Moritz Ludwig has also recently been added to that line-up. He, however, is an injury doubt while Jan Nitschke while Ferdinand Weinke are also out.

Key defender and drag-flicker Lukas Windfeder and Dennis Holthaus have recovered from corona virus and are now out of quarantine. They hope their PCR tests will be negative to allow them to travel. The flying Timm Herzbruch leads their attack while Benedikt Fürk was also in strong form in Uhlenhorst’s only game of 2021 to date, scoring twice in a 4-1 win over Crefelder HTC.

They are coached by Olympic gold medalist Thilo Stralkowski who stepped back from playing in 2018 and he is anticipating “a typical Spanish team, technically strong and passionate”.

For Atlètic, they have been playing far more consistently over the past few months and arrive in Amsterdam off the back of seven successive victories. The side is powered by the vastly experienced Sergi Enrique from the back, one of the few players still active from the original 2007/08 season of the EHL.

Livewire Marc Bolto captains the side with Albert Beltran back in the mix after a spell with Rotterdam while Marc Salles is back at full throttle after injury.

Otherwise, it is a new look side this season following important retirements of Dani Malgosa, Santi Pujal, Xavi Galí and Oriol Peremiquel along with the departures of Lluís Melé and Pol Parrilla. It means new players have come in from their second team, Vallès Esportiu, Joan Dalmases, Joan Monzó and Pau Jover while Nil Escudé is back at the club after playing in Junior and FC Barcelona.

Pau Cunill (21) is another to move up from the second team and is now the topscorer due to its impressive drag-flick but his younger brother Pepe – already a Spanish international at age 18 – made his comeback last weekend, scoring twice in a 5-1 win over Giner de los Rios.

Factfile

Uhlenhorst Mülheim

EHL history

2011/12 – KO16
2012/13 – KO8
2013/14 – KO16
2017/18 – KO8
2018/19 – KO8
2019/20 (incomplete season due to Covid-19) – FINAL8

Bundesliga: 1st place, Section A (nine point advantage over UHC Hamburg)

Current internationals: Lukas Windfeder, Timm Herzbruch, Jan Schiffer, Ferdinand Weinke, Niklas Bosserhoff, Malte Hellwig, Benedikt Fürk

Top scorers: Malte Hellwig 22 goals, Timm Herzbruch 14 goals, Lukas Windfeder 13 goals

Preview interviews: Timm Herzbruch

Hockey DHB Final4 Herren Muelheim Mannheim 20190519 0640 - Can anyone beat Bloemendaal, EHL Final 4 - EHL Men’s FINAL4 sees Royal Léopold, Uhlenhorst Mülheim and Atlètic Terrassa all endeavouring to reach their first ever GRAND FINAL, joining one of the competition’s most decorated clubs, HC Bloemendaal for this weekend’s action.
Krefeld, Germany, May 19: During the Final4 Gold Medal fieldhockey match between Uhlenhorst Muelheim and Mannheimer HC on May 19, 2019 at Gerd-Wellen Hockeyanlage in Krefeld, Germany. (worldsportpics Copyright Dirk Markgraf) *** Timm Herzbruch #14 of Uhlenhorst Muelheim, Christopher Held #3 of Mannheimer HC

Atlètic Terrassa

EHL history

2007/08 – KO8
2008/09 – ROUND1
2009/10 – KO8
2010/11 – KO8
2011/12 – KO16
2012/13 – KO16
2014/15 – ROUND1
2015/16 – Fourth place
2016/17 – KO8
2017/18 – KO16

Honor Division: 1st (48 points out of 57, only one loss)

Current internationals: Marc Salles, Marc Bolto, Albert Beltran, Joan Tarres, Pepe Cunill

Top scorers: Pau Cunill 11 goals, Pepe Cunill 8 goals, Marc Bolto 7 goals

Preview interviews: Pau Cunill

FFU1704175789 - Can anyone beat Bloemendaal, EHL Final 4 - EHL Men’s FINAL4 sees Royal Léopold, Uhlenhorst Mülheim and Atlètic Terrassa all endeavouring to reach their first ever GRAND FINAL, joining one of the competition’s most decorated clubs, HC Bloemendaal for this weekend’s action.
EINDHOVEN – EHL KO8 12 HC Oranje-Rood – Atletic Terrassa foto: Sam Cortes. COPYRIGHT FRANK UIJLENBROEK WORLDSPORTPICS

Head-to-head:October 2011: Uhlenhorst Mülheim 4 (Schmitz, Stralkowski, Fleckhaus, Rabente) Atlètic Terrassa 2 (R Oliva, A Beltran)

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