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18.10.2007, 14:08
(Almost) accoding to plans: German teams in the CL
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Three German sides have done perfect job so far, while Flensburg are struggling in their group. Read our analysis.
 

(Almost) accoding to plans: German teams in the CL

The atmosphere in the German halls is as good as everIf you believed the experts before the start of this Champions League, you could give eight places in the last 16 for the Spanish and German clubs already before the first throw off in the season. After the “halftime” with three match days played in every group, these experts seem to have been right – with one exception though.

The four Spanish teams did not yet lose a single match (Leon and Portland made draws), while three of out of the four German teams have also won their matches and conserved a clean sheet.

Only Flensburg are not on the right track with two home defeats – against Ciudad Real and (surprisingly) Lubin. However, all German clubs still have the chance to get through and reach their minimal objectives. Björn Pazen analyses the situation in Germany.

THW Kiel

Kiel had reason to celebrate alreadyInjury, more injuries, THW Kiel – a series of injuries that does not come to an end for the reigning German and Champions League title holders. At the start of the season Christian Zeitz and Daniel Wessig were not able to play. Later Filip Jicha, Nikola Karabatic and Kim Andersson were also injured, so nearly the whole backcourt is out for a month. As Ales Pajovic (coming from Ciudad Real), who signed a three-months contract in Kiel, is not allowed to play in Champions League, coach Noka Serdarusic has to change the whole team.

However, as he is used to a similar situations from last season when the “remaining squad” won three titles, the problems did not stop Kiel. They won all three matches: victory in Montpelier and Constanta and at home against Hamarby.

Kiel are on the best way to get through to the second round from Group B. With another victory in Hamarby (08 November), the first objective can be reached very early. Serdarusic hopes that Karabatic and Andersson could be back in November, Jicha in December. Still nobody knows when German international, Zeitz, will be able to play. His hips may need another operation. In the Toyota-Bundesliga Kiel are leading the table with 18 points won, 2 lost, but they played one match more than SG Flensburg.

HSV Hamburg

In the first CL season in the history of the club, HSV also play a leading role in their group – just as Kiel – with three victories from three matches.

Lijewski in the air against Viborg“We never expected this, but it looks very good for us,” said coach Martin Schwalb, “we made a great step towards the second round with our victory in Zaporozhye. As now we will play against the most difficult opponents, Chechovski Medvedi, at home, I think we have a good chance to win this group.

The difficult victory in Russia was especially unexpected. “It was great to win there. Since that we know that we are among the best teams in the CL,” said German World Champion, Pascal Hens. The most important HSV weapon in these three matches was an outstanding defence with Bertrand Gille in the centre, and the two goalkeepers Per Sandström and Johannes Bitter protecting the goal. In the attack of the German runner-up there were some problems at the last matches. As the club has many options and alternatives, it’s fair to say that HSV will reach the second group phase. In the Bundesliga Hamburg are currently ranked third with 15 points won, 3 lost. They suffered a home defeat against Flensburg and a home-draw against Berlin.

VfL Gummersbach

Gummersbach lost four matches already in the Bundesliga (two of them at home) and they are ranked only fifth at the moment. Nevertheless, they play very well in the Champions League. The team of coach Alfred Gislasson lost the most important player, Daniel Narcisse, to Chambery before this season, while another key player, Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson, is missing due to a shoulder operation. In spite of all these problems, Gummersbach won all three matches in Group F against Reykjavik and top clubs Veszprém and Celje.

Gislasson found the winning team for the CL“It’s impressing to see how this team fights,” said Gislasson after winning against Celje. That game another key player, top scorer Momir Illic, also had to leave the court early. But in the last matches Slovenian Roman Pungartnik (36) was match winner.

Gislasson, however, does not see take qualification from the group for granted:

“We have the biggest tasks ahead in Veszprém and Celje in November. If these two make a draw again in their return match and we lose both matches, we must rely on mathematics. So we have the possibility to reach the second phase with either a victory or two away draws.”

Sigurdsson, unfortunately, cannot help his team as he will not play this year any more.

SG Flensburg-Handewitt

There’s a clear contrast between Flensburg and Gummersbach. The team are virtually leading the Bundesliga – only second because they played less matches than Kiel. The Champions League is more problematic.

Despite the two victories in the domestic league against Kiel and Hamburg, Flensburg lost their way in the CL. Only five days after the sensational match against Kiel, they were thrashed by with nine goals at home against Ciudad Real. This was not the biggest negative surprise for the team of coach Kent-Harry Andersson who just extended his contract until 2010.

The only victory was in DrammenFlensburg lost 32:33 at home against the small Polish team, Lubin. “This was the worst match in the last 20 years,” as a fan put it with bitter disappointment in the Campushalle.

Noboby expected this, and now Flensburg stand with 2 points (equally with Lubin and Drammen) with their back against the wall.

“We have to be ashamed,” said Andersson. However, the coach is still hoping that the team will reach the minimal objective by making it to the next round. The next match will be played on the court of Ciudad Real and the Spanish club only need one point to get through. The matches at home against Dramen and in Lubin will be more important for Flensburg.

“We will not lose again against the Polish champion,” said manager Fynn Holpert, who has a lot of work at the moment with the team of the future as many contracts are running out at the end of the season. The picture is getting brighter for Flensburg: Croatian World Champion, Blazenko Lackovic, and German international, Frank von Behren, were back on court against Lubin. Only Danish winger, Sören Stryger, and the Icelandic Einar Holmgeirsson will miss the next matches.

“I think Flensburg are strong enough to reach the next round,” says former Flensburg player Christian Hjermind who plays for Ciudad Real now. The fans at the German-Danish border hope that he’s right.


TEXT: Björn Pazen
 
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