MECL ultimate clash under Suzhou-effectPatrick FRANZISKA 28 places up in ITTF ranking Photo: Stephan ROSCHER
Just a week after QOROS 2015 World Championships, the first leg of Men`s European Champions League final will be held: Borussia Dusseldorf – Fakel Gazproma Orenburg (Sunday, May 10th, 13h00 CET). Players approaching this clash with mixed feelings from Chinese city Suzhou, summing everything they achieved there.
Analyzing things from that angle, the staff of German champion must be more satisfied than their opponents, despite bad news regarding Kamal ACHANTA`s injury. Two Borussia`s players reached quarter-final, being unique European representatives in that stage. If it was expected for 2011 WCH bronze medalist in Rotterdam, Timo BOLL, his young compatriot Patrick FRANZISKA surely exceeded expectations, especially bearing in mind that he missed four months in the mid season because of an injury.
Two Dusseldorf`s members did a significant progress on updated ITTF World Ranking List: Patrick FRANZISKA went 28 places up – from no. 56 to no. 28 (he was stopped by unexpected finalist, Chinese FANG Bo), while Round of 32 participant Kamal ACHANTA jumped from no. 44 to no 32. The Indian, forced by injury, must withdraw from the event and doctor`s prediction is that he`ll be out of the action for three or even four months. Greek Panagiotis GIONIS, who was eliminated by the newly crowned world champion MA Long in the same phase as the Indian, climbed three spots, from no. 22. to 19. It means that Borussia now has four Top 32 players (Timo BOLL is still no. 7).
On the other side, Orenburg`s leading man Dimitrij OVTCHAROV surprisingly finished his course in the second round at Suzhou, playing seven games against Korean LEE Sangsu. However he continued as the best ranked MECL and European player (no. 6). His team mate Vladimir SAMSONOV, the 1997 WCH runner-up in Manchester, now reached Round of 16 having five games against actual Olympic champion and 2011 World champion, Chinese ZHANG Jike.
Both MECL finalist finished group stage on the top (Orenburg in A, Borussia in D). Russians suffered just one defeat so far (from defending champion Pontoise in Round 5), playing confident in all other encounters, while German squad had a real thriller in the quarter-final: they managed to progress despite 3:1 (11:6) away loss from Pontoise. Timo BOLL, who lost in 2015 WCH quarter-final in six games from FAN Zhendong, had a perfect 4-0 score in the 2014/15 MECL semi-final against Chartres ASTT.
Borussia is record holder with 10 European titles (4 in MECL era – 2000, 2009-2011), while Orenburg did it twice (2012, 2013). They met just once in the ultimate chapter (2010/11), as German took third title in a row (1:3 away, 3:0 home).
Timo BOLL & Company will try to bring the 65th trophy in Borussia`s house. The most decorated European club ever plays for its third triple crown after 2009/10 and 2010/11.
Considering individual scores in 2014/15 Men`s European Champions League, Dimitrij OVTCHAROV leads…
Borussia: Timo BOLL 13-2, Panagiotis GIONIS 7-3, Kamal ACHANTA 6-2, Patrick FRANZISKA 2-1, Danny HEISTER 0-1
Orenburg: Dimitrij OVTCHAROV 12-1, Vladimir SAMSONOV 9-1, Alexey SMIRNOV 6-4.