23.03.2023  LIQUI MOLY HBL

Zebras vs Foxes - the most important facts about Sunday’s top game

Record champion vs ranking leader - there is nothing better in the LIQUI MOLY HBL. On Sunday, THW Kiel host Füchse Berlin, four world champions are on the court, both teams have passed their international dress rehearsals with flying colors - and the Zebras will be eager to take revenge for the first-leg defeat. Here are the most important Facts and Figures about the top game on Sunday 14:00 CEST, live on Sky).

The overall balance: For the 45th time this animal duel between zebras and foxes will be staged on Sunday in a wide variety of national and international competitions. The overall balance clearly speaks for THW: 36 victories, four draws and six defeats are recorded for Filip Jicha's team.

The last three matches foxes remained undefeated. In the 2021/22 season there was a 28:28 in Berlin and a 31:28 away win in Kiel, the first ever in the 42-year history of this duel. The next historic day was not long in coming, because in the first duel of the current season, the foxes - steered by Mathias Gidsel - celebrated the highest win of all time against THW Kiel with a 34:26.

The table: With 19 wins, one draw and three defeats in 23 games, the foxes are back in first place with 39:7 points after having to give up the lead to the Rhein-Neckar Löwen for a week. Kiel is currently third ranked in the LIQUI MOLY HBL with one game less and 36:8 points (18 wins, four losses).

Home and away balance: The THW's often spotless home record has already received two spots this season, with the defeats against TBV Lemgo-Lippe and most recently SC DHfK Leipzig. On the other hand, Kiel are 18:4 ahead of the foxes (17:5) in the away table, as Berlin lost in Minden and Magdeburg and drew in Flensburg.

Goals: With 740 goals, Berlin has the second best attack below Rhein-Neckar Löwen. On average, Gidsel & Co. scored 32.3 goals per game and are just ahead of THW (31.7 on average). On the other hand, with 597 goals conceded (27.1 on average), Kiel have the better defense compared to Berlin (27.9).

Top scorer: Although he only played 19 league games and has been out with a broken hand since the European League game in Irun, Füchse veteran Hans Lindberg is still the best scorer of the two clubs with 123 league goals, including 62 penalties. Ahead of the best Kiel scorer Niklas Ekberg (85/50), Jakob Holm (97) is ranked as second-best Füchse player. Number 2 for Kiel is Eric Johansson with 74 goals.

Goalkeepers: Both goalkeepers have already jumped over the 200 saves-mark in this season: Kiel's Niklas Landin is second behind Malte Semisch (208) with 206 saves, Berlin's Serb Dejan Milosavljev is fifth with 201 saves.

The current cup season: Record cup winners THW Kiel cannot defend their twelfth title, won in Hamburg in 2022, at the premiere of the REWE Final4 in Cologne on 15/16. April, as they had lost in the quarterfinals in the repeat of last year's final against SC Magdeburg. Meanwhile, Berlin said goodbye in round two with the defeat at SG Flensburg-Handewitt. This means that there is no second cup win this year after 2014 (the only domestic title for Füchse so far).

The international season: Füchse Berlin became the first team in the European League to win all ten group games, THW Kiel ended its Champions League group in fourth place. But both presented themselves in excellent shape at the international dress rehearsals for the HBL top game: THW Kiel won their CL play-off game at Dinamo Bucharest on Wednesday 41:28 and, like the Foxes in the European League, are close to make it to the quarterfinals. Berlin prevailed on Tuesday in the Last 16 away game in Skjern, Denmark, by 28:23.

International duels: Foxes and Zebras have even locked horns in two European final tournaments: in 2012 at the Champions League FINAL4 in Cologne, Kiel narrowly won the semifinal with 25:24. In 2019, THW won the final of the EHF Cup in the Wunderino Arena on home ground with 26:22 and secured the fourth trophy in this competition, which Berlin won twice.

Two world champions each: Despite the absence of Lindberg, four Danish world champions are still on the court on Sunday: Niklas and Magnus Landin for THW, Holm and Gidsel for Foxes. The number of current German internationals is also identical -  one: Rune Dahmke (Kiel) and Paul Drux (Berlin).

No transfers among each other: Interestingly, no player from the current Foxes squad has played for THW and no one from Kiel has a history in Berlin.

Photo: Goeres