The German League is down to its last few matches with the finals getting underway on the weekend. The protagonists for the second year in a row are VfB Friedrichshafen and Generali Haching. Friedrichshafen come into the series looking for their sixth title in a row and 11th in 13 years, and have been unbeaten in the league this season winning 22 regular season and five playoffs matches. The only match they lost domestically was the cup semi final to Düren. To put it simply, they are the class team and the class club of the League. Haching were second in the regular season and have had no trouble advancing in the playoffs for the match up everyone predicted before the start of the season. Haching have proved their quality in winning the cup for the last two seasons and are looking to go one step further and win their first ever Championships.
While Friedrichshafen are overwhelming favourites, it wouldn’t surprise if they were pushed all the way to the wire. Last season’s finals was an emotional rollercoaster, with yellow cards (three in one set), red cards (one) and suspensions (Friedrichshafen’s Idi) and Haching at times seeming more intent on winning the ‘fight’ than the games. This played right into the hands of Friedrichshafen’s immensely experienced team and they laughed all the way to the trophy presentation.
Haching have certainly learnt from last years mistakes and have added fresh blood, receiver Kaliberda, while keeping their young core of Steuerwald, Günthör and Schwarz intact. Friedrichshafen also maintained their core of Tichachek, Idi and Jose while freeing hugely talented Grozer to play the whole season as opposite. While Friedrichshafen have a very compact game plan with no weak points (or at least no weak points that can easily be attacked), Haching rely heavily on Schwarz and to a lesser degree Kaliberda to score their points. They need to have a big series, or at least three big games, from experienced opposite Liefke to release that pressure and put the necessary scoreboard pressure on their opponents.
My prediction is that Haching will play off their trees at home and could squeak out a match, but that Friedrichshafen will take the title.
A watered down German version of my prediction can be found here.