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Date: 8/27/2017

FC Barcelona Lassa and Fuchse Berlin have both won the IHF Super Globe title twice, and in 2017 take the court with one side about to claim their third. Prior to the final, current EHF Champions League champions HC Vardar play hosts Al Sadd for the bronze medal, after the conclusion of the placement round. 

The last day of competition in Doha opens with Sydney Uni Handball Club and Naft-O-Gas-Gachsaran contesting seventh place, before Esporte Clube Pinheiros take on Esperance Sportive de Tunisie in the 5/6 play-off. 

Final: Füchse Berlin (GER) vs FC Barcelona Lassa (ESP) 19:00 local time

Record EHF Champions League and Spanish championship winners FC Barcelona Lassa enter the 2017 Super Globe final for what is their third trophy match at the event. This year’s final is also the third for defending champions Fuchse Berlin, who aim to reclaim the title won in 2015 and 2016 – after Barcelona topped the podium in 2013 and 2014. 

Neither side have ever lost the Super Globe final, but one will endure their first defeat on August 28.

There is no denying the strength of Berlin’s squad, which features World Championship, Olympic and European medallists with multiple national teams – such as Steffen Fäth, Fabian Wiede, Silvio Heinevetter (Germany), Marko Kopljar and Jakov Gojun (Croatia), not to mention their perennial top scorer Petar Nenadic. But if there is any start list to rival it in Doha, it is Barcelona’s. 

The Catalan team’s coach Xavi Pascual can rely on a deep bench that allows him two full line-ups of world-class players. Even with newcomers – such as 2017 IHF World Championship bronze medallist with Slovenia, Jure Dolenec, and Cuban-born Alexis Borges – learning the squad’s systems, they are in great form and will be a difficult opponent for Berlin. 

However, Berlin faced two top-ranked Champions League sides in the finals in 2015 and 2016 – first beating Hungarian team Telekom Veszprem then defeating PSG Handball last year to claim their second consecutive Super Globe title. It is clear whatever is written on paper matters little when it comes to this trophy. 

Bronze-medal match: Al Sadd (QAT) vs HC Vardar Skopje (MKD) 17:00 local time

HC Vardar will meet Al Sadd for the first time in what is their debut IHF Super Globe, leaving the 60 minutes open for an interesting contest between the two teams. As the current EHF Champions League title holders it seems Vardar should have the edge in the encounter, but nothing is decided before the final whistle. 

Al Sadd can rely on the home support in Duhail Sports Hall, along with the likes of Danijel Saric in goal and stand-out attackers such as Abdulla Al-Karbi on the right wing. The European side’s roster is certainly deeper with a long list of stars, such as 2013 world champions Joan Canellas, Jorge Maqueda and Arpad Sterbik. 

It seems Vardar should be able to win the bronze medal by a clear margin if they play their best game, particularly considering Al Sadd’s decisive semi-final loss to Berlin. 

5/6 Placement match: Esporte Clube Pinheiros (BRA) vs Esperance Sportive de Tunis (TUN) 15:00 local time

Esporte Clube Pinheiros have played a strong campaign in Doha, after unseating perennial Pan American champions HC Taubate to claim the place at the 2017 Super Globe. Despite losing their opener to defending champions Fuchse Berlin, Pinheiros were defeated by only two goals at 31:33. 

Esperance Sportive de Tunis began their Super Globe with a decisive 24:42 loss to 2017 Champions League semi-finalists FC Barcelona – which was naturally a disappointing defeat but was somewhat expected against the might of the record Champions League winners. 

It appears Pinheiros and Es Tunis will meet for an exciting on-court battle, where the players to watch include their top scorers Julian Souto Cueto (16 goals for Pinheiros) and Oussama Boughanmi (11 for Es Tunis), and goalkeepers Marcos Santos and Ahmedamine Bedoui. 

7/8 Placement match: Sydney Uni Handball Club (AUS) vs Naft-O-Gas-Gachsaran (IRI) 13:00 local time

Sydney Uni Handball Club recorded their best ever result at the IHF Super Globe in 2015, when they finished fourth following a victory against Al Sadd in the quarter-final then losses to Veszprem and FC Barcelona in the semi-final and bronze-medal game. In 2016, they found themselves back in the 7/8 match, and in 2017 the story is the same for the six-time Oceania champions. 

With a high turnover of players due to the amateur status of the club, Sydney Uni can always be relied upon to push their hardest but may not be able to contend with the more difficult Super Globe opponents. On every occasion that Sydney have contested seventh place, they have been defeated – though as they meet Super Globe debutants Naft-O-Gas-Gachsaran this year, perhaps the story will be different. 

Sydney Uni opened their campaign with a 25:33 loss to hosts Al Sadd, then a 26:32 defeat to Pinheiros in the first placement match. Gachsaran lost 22:30 to HC Vardar in their quarter-final, before being sent to the 7/8 match by a stronger Es Tunis side (28:35). Both teams will be determined to end their Super Globe with a victory, but it seems the odds are in Gachsaran’s favour considering they managed to challenge current Champions League champions HC Vardar in the first game.