The main event of women’s club handball, the TIPPMIX EHF FINAL4 is just around the corner and the excitement in the handball world is rising day by day. The first semifinal will be played between ZRK Buducnost from Montenegro and Győri Audi ETO KC from Hungary. The two teams have a long history behind them, their rivalry can be called as one of the classics of women’s handball. This time it won’t be any different.
Buducnost’s handball philosophy is either sympathetic for somebody or not, but nobody can deny that the pride of Montenegro is one of the best clubs of the last decade. Having won 2 Champions League trophies in the last 5 years (2012 and 2015), they are a force that always needs to be considered when it comes to the final placements. This is their 4th participation at the EHF FINAL4 – which means they have qualified for all of them. Last year, they lost the semifinal against Győr (20-21) in probably one of the highest quality women’s handball matches ever seen. This time, they will have the chance to take “revenge” on the Hungarians supported by the majority of the László Papp Aréna in Budapest.
This season, Buducnost has conceded the lowest number of goals shared with Győri Audi ETO KC, 340 goals were scored against the rock solid wall. They started this year’s Women’s EHF Champions League confidently, collecting 10 out of the maximum 12 points in the group phase – their only defeat came in Metz, not many teams were able to win in France. However, the Main Round didn’t start well for the blue-white girls from Podgorica: they lost to Macedonian powerhouse Vardar in the Montenegrin capital, and were also smashed by FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria (25-33) in their home. After these two negative results, they found their way back as they won in Skopje and Budapest. Finishing 3rd in their Main Round Group, they met Larvik HK in the quarterfinals. In the first match, they shocked Larvik (31-17) that has been facing serious financial problems lately. After literally deciding the duel in the first match, they even managed to win in Larvik so their place in Budapest is well-earned.
As expected, Buducnost’s main power besides the defense lies in the shooting power: Cristina Neagu and Katarina Bulatovic are the main names leading the attacks of the Montenegrin team. Neagu, who will leave Podgorica at the end of the season and will join CSM Bucuresti, has netted 80 times so far this season so the 3-time IHF Player of the Year is still in the race for the top scorer trophy. Katarina Bulatovic has 79 goals – the situation of one of the best left-handed players of the current times is special: she has won the Champions League with Buducnost twice, but between the two, she won the 2014 edition with Győri Audi ETO KC as well.
According to rumors, Buducnost will be weakened next season – it is not only Neagu that will leave the team after season 2016/17. Dragan Adzic can start to build Buducnost’s future – the word “buducnost” itself means future as well. Knowing him and his abilities, soon we will see Buducnost among the top favorites again, but building up a strong team for the future might take a little time. Until then, 2017 is somewhat a now or never – or rather now or later – for them.