After a year without a Euroleague Final Four, which was canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak, we see again the 4 best basketball teams in Europe go head to head. The title will be decided in Cologne, Germany, between Friday 28th and Sunday, 30th of May.
The Euroleague Final Four is taking place already next week, bringing 6 months of competition to an end. It all started on October 1st, with the regular season ending in mid-April, leaving 8 teams in playoff positions.
During the play-offs, the 4 teams placed first in the regular season confirmed their superiority completely and there were no surprises. Barcelona eliminated Zenit St. Petersburg, CSKA Moscow defeated Fenerbahçe, Anadolu Efes sent home Real Madrid and Olympia Milano qualified at the expense of Bayern Munich.
The Final Four semi-finals are now settled: Barcelona X Olympia Milano and CSKA Moscow X Anadolu Efes. Who will qualify to the final match?
Who Will Win the Euroleague Final Four 2021?
Barcelona x Olympia Milano
Former Zalgiris Kaunas manager, Šarūnas Jasikevičius, arrived in Barcelona in 2020 and he already brought the Catalan side to their first semifinal in seven years. Barcelona topped the table during the regular season with 24 wins and 10 losses and fewer points against (2469).
They are therefore quite the favorites this time, after Šarūnas revolution. Meanwhile, on the other side Olympia Milano is on this stage for the first time in 29 years. They won the EuroLeague already 3 times, but the last one was in 1988.
Olympia will rely on the experience of its coach, Ettore Messina, who has won the Euroleague 4 times as a manager: twice with Virtus Bologna and twice with CSKA Moscow.
Olympia team’s roster has 2 point guards that know Barcelona well: Malcolm Delaney was part of the Catalan team last season, while Sergio Rodriguez plays with several Barcelona players in the national team.
In their head-to-head record, this season the balance weighs heavily to Barcelona: they won twice to Milan, in December and March. Besides, they have the experienced Pau Gasol on the team, a player whose curriculum speaks for itself (2 times NBA Champion for the LA Lakers).
While Barcelona relies heavily on their defense, as proved by the fewer points conceded during the regular season, Milan rarely loses the ball. They had the fewest number of turnovers in the Euroleague (10.9 turnovers per game).
CSKA Moscow X Anadolu Efes
In 2019, CSKA Moscow defeated Anadolu Efes in the Euroleague Championship Game. The Russians ended with the game with a score of 91-83 in their favor, crowning another great season and the 2nd EuroLeague Championship for coach Dimitrios Itoudis.
The affair will be repeated on the semi-finals of the Final Four this time. Since they were the highest-scoring teams in the regular season of the competition, we can expect an exciting match with a high scoreboard.
In first place, CSKA with 84.4 points per game, while the Turkish counterpart was just below with an average of 84.1. CSKA topped the charts with 84.4 points per game and Efes averaged 84.1.
Efes also was second on the fewest turnovers in the league, just below Olympia (11.3). CSKA ranked 3 on this stat (12.3).
The team from Moscow dominated its playoff games, qualifying for the final on just 3 matches against Fenerbahçe. They were the only team without a loss in the playoffs.
Being on a record 20th presence in the Final Four and following a current 9 win streak, CSKA is the heavy favorite right now.
The Turkish team passed through Real Madrid, but needed to edge on the 5th game after losing game 3 and 4.
On the two matches between both teams in the regular season, CSKA defeated Efes 100-65 back in December. However, Efes had their revenge in March, defeating the Russians for 100-70. It was the first time in 12 consecutive games that Efes defeated CSKA.
Vasilije Micic, who scored 21 points in that game, is Anadolu Efes top target to beat. The point guard is the team’s top scorer with 16.3 points per game
Meanwhile, CSKA might suffer with the absence of Mike James, who moved to the NBA to play for the Brooklyn Nets. The American was the highest scorer of CSKA, with 19.3 points per game.
Will Clyburn will have to jump into the spotlight, but if he shows the same individual brilliance demonstrated against Fenerbahçe then CSKA shouldn’t have to worry.
Who is the favorite among the odds?
Despite being the current champions and having a perfect form streak right now, CSKA is only third in the odds to win the Championship. Barcelona tops the odds on 7/4 to win, with bookies trusting Šarūnas to bring the title to Spain.
Meanwhile, Anadolu ranks second on 9/5 in the odds, while CSKA is third on 5/1. It’s likely their chances dropped with the exit of Mike James but do not sleep on them.
Olympia Milano is the obvious outsider, so if you fancy your chances to bet on the underdog they should be your pick.
If you love basketball, you shouldn’t miss the Euroleague Final Four. It’s one of the biggest events of the sport in the world and fans have been eagerly awaiting this moment for two years.
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