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26.11.2007, 16:13
All German teams qualify - Summary
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Four German-Spainish clashes are possible in the next phase of the CL. Read the analysis of Björn Pazen.
 

All German teams qualify - Summary

For the first time ever, four German teams qualified for the Champions League this season – and still four teams will be in the pot tomorrow when the draw for the second group phase will be carried out in Vienna. At this new stage of the competition there will be three “clashes of the titans” between the best leagues of the world, Liga Asobal of Spain and Toyota Bundesliga.

As it’s written in the CL regulation, no first round group winners of the same country will face each other in a group. Four Spanish and three German clubs won their groups, so there will be at least three of the four groups where Germans will be facing Spanish teams. “We want to play against Barcelona,” said Hamburg’s coach, Martin Schwalb.

Flensburg had severe problems at home against LubinEurohandball.com summarises the performance of the four German clubs in the Group Matches so far. It’s a success story with a few little stains on it only. Last season’s runner-up, SG Flensburg-Handewitt, had big problems to reach the second group phase at all.

Flensburg fight until last minutes

SG seem to be the only club at this stage that came through by winning only one home match. The team of Swedish coach, Kent-Harry Andersson, lost against top favourite Ciudad Real in the Campushalle. This was not such a big surprise. After an away victory in Norway against Drammen, the fans of Campushalle booed their team when the Polish champions, Lubin, also took the points from Flensburg. There was a little crisis there.

However, after the one and only home victory against Drammen and a defeat in Ciudad Real, the decision depended on the last match in Poland.

Flensburg showed their real power and won clearly to make it to the Main Round. Flensburg reached all this without their wing player, Sören Stryger, who is out for months after a knee-operation.

“Now everything is possible,” said manager Fynn Holpert before the draw for the Main Round.

Kiel survive injuries

The injury of Andersson is just a bad memory now: the Swedish player also returned for the last matchesUnlike Flensburg, the other German clubs reached the Main Round without any problems by winning their groups. However, only the reigning champions, THW Kiel, have a “white vest” after six matches. Karabatic & Co. were absolutely dominant in their group where they met runner-up Montpellier, Constanta and Hammarby. No team scored more goals, no team won their matches more clearly – and even a five-week injury of Karabatic and some other top players (Kim Andersson, Christian Zeitz, Filip Jicha) could cause no difficulties for the Serdarusic team.

“We belong to the favourites,” said manager Uwe Schwenker, “and in case we want to win the Champions League again, we have to be stronger than Ciudad Real.”

Vfl win the most difficult group

Vfl have beaten Veszprém and Celje at homeJust as THW Kiel, also VfL Gummersbach and HSV Hamburg (in their first ever season in the CL) won their groups. Hamburg remained unbeaten with only a draw at home against Chechovski Medvedi. Gumersbach made a draw in Veszprém and lost a last match in Celje, which means that also the Slovenian champions will continue in the Main Round.

However, the biggest enemy in this very hard group was not a team, but a series of injuries in Gummersbach. The usual top scorer of the team, Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson, could not play a single CL match after a shoulder operation; Momir Illic had to miss matches, just as the pivot Robert Gunnarson and goalkeeper Nándor Fazekas.

“We were hoping not to be eliminated in the first round – and now we won the group. This shows the big self-confidence that we have and that these players are beginning to form a real team,” said coach Alfred Gislasson.

Impressive HSV on CL debut

And also in Hamburg everything ran smoothly.

HSV got away with a draw from Russia, the rest went smoothly“We knew that we are a strong team, but we did not expect to go through unbeaten,” said German World Champion, Pascal Hens. But in Hamburg they still don’t think that HSV could be favourite for the title.

“There are many teams with more international experience. We have to wait and see what happens at the draw. In case we would reach the semi-final, a dream would come true,” said coach Martin Schwalb.

Just as Kiel and Flensburg, Hamburg also know how to beat a Spanish team. HSV won the Cup Winners’ Cup final that was full of tension last season by a last-second goal of Kyung Shin Yoon against Ademar Leon – a team that also reached the Main Round.

Last season there were four KO matches between German and Spanish club. The result was 3:1 for Germany. Only Gummersbach lost their quarterfinal against Valladolid, while Flensburg first eliminated Barcelona in the quarterfinals and then Valladolid in the semi-finals. In addition, Kiel have beaten Portland San Antonio in the semi-final.

So the tension is high before tomorrow’s draw in Vienna. And it’s clear that only one German-German “meeting” is possible as Flensburg were the only team not to win their group. It means that last season’s finals, Kiel vs Flensburg, could even take place in the Main Round this season. We just have to wait and see…


TEXT: Björn Pazen
 
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