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06.10.2011, 11:17
Favourites looking to get back on track
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Preview of Round 2 of the EHF Women’s Champions League.
 

Favourites looking to get back on track

The EHF Women’s Champions League commenced its new season last weekend with some very exciting matches, and some title favourites (Larvik, AUDI ETO) have already failed by losing their opener. Meanwhile, all of the Danish clubs celebrated victories, so Round 2 will give us many more thrilling and highly interesting duels to follow!

The weekend starts on Friday in Ljubljana’s Arena Stožice, where two Round 1 winners (Krim and Viborg) will battle for first position of Group B.

GROUP A

FC Midtjylland (DEN) vs. Thüringer HC (GER)
Saturday, 14:30 hrs (local time)

Coach Herbert Müller’s team debuted in the EHF Champions League with a home defeat. Nevertheless, THC gave a good performance against group favourites Budućnost. Unfortunately for the Germans, left-back Ewgenija Minevskaja has injured her knee, and will therefore be out for several games. On FCM’s side, coach Ryan Zinglerse’s team won its away duel and collected two points in a low-scoring affair, where his shooters had a low shot efficiency. This will definitely be something to work on if the Danish champions want to win their home game against the speedy and fast-running Germans.

Budućnost (MNE) vs. Byåsen (NOR)
Sunday, 19:30 hrs (local time)

Valery Putans’ Byåsen were rather ineffective and unlucky with their attacks, scoring only 17 goals on home soil, which resulted in a defeat in their CL opener. Against the strong Montenegrins they will need better luck, but Ida Alstad and her team-mates also need to stop the strong back court of coach Dragan Adžić. Although the Montenegrins had some minor problems against THC, they found more space for their line players Ana Đokić and Dragana Cvijić, and exploited every hole in the opponent’s wall to score. In this duel, Bojana Popović and her team-mates are the favourites, and not only because of the frenetic home support to be expected in their Morača Sports Centre.

GROUP B

RK Krim Mercator (SLO) vs. Viborg HK (DEN)
Friday, 18:00 hrs (local time)

Both clubs won their Round 1 game and whilst Krim collected the two points thanks to their better defence in a well-fought away affair, the Danes had no problems in outclassing title defender Larvik, so the whole team and crew is very happy about their EHF Champions League start. Bad news: Swedish newcomer Isabell Gulldén, who scored 12 goals in the opener, will be out for 6 weeks with a broken hand. So Krim’s Tamara Mavsar hopes for another two points for her side: "We know that Viborg are an excellent team. It will be another difficult match, but with good defence, better fast breaks and a good attacking game plan, backed by the fans in the hall, I think that another 2 points will stay in Ljubljana."

Larvik (NOR) - HC Podravka Vegeta (CRO)
Saturday, 18:15 hrs (local time)

Defending champions Larvik had no chance against Viborg last weekend – the Norwegians were already 12 goals behind after the first period. However Tonje Larsen and her team-mates didn’t collapse, and won the second half by six goals. This is something the team has to build on against Croatia’s Podravka. A stronger defence will be necessary, whilst in attack, more variety will be required for the first point(s). The Croats had a tough fight against their neighbours from Slovenia, and lost in an unlucky way by a single goal. Team captain Miranda Tatari and her colleagues want to iron out the mistakes from the Round 1 match: "I expect a tough match in Norway. Larvik are the absolute favourites, but we certainly have our chances and will try to play the best we can!"

GROUP C

Hypo Niederösterreich (AUT) vs. Randers HK (DEN)
Saturday, 20:20 hrs (local time)

Two big surprises happened in the first round: Randers caused the positive sensation by defeating Hungary’s Győri AUDI ETO, whilst Hypo clearly lost in France. On Hypo’s side, only right-back Viktóra Soós gave a quality performance, as the others totally underperformed and were not able to follow coach András Németh’s tactical advice. Hypo manager Dieter Heger hopes for a surprise against the Danes: "Hopefully, team captain Ale Nascimento will be ready for Saturday, and our target remains the same. We would like to advance to the Main Round." On Randers’ side everybody is happy and motivated after the great start. Playmaker Nina Wörz expects "a tough match in Austria. It’ll be our away debut in this season, a special match. If we bring the same effort as against Győr and follow our coach’s tactical advice, then we can collect another two points." In the Danish league Randers surprisingly lost their last match at Team Tvis Holstebro with 27-31.

Győri AUDI ETO KC (HUN) vs. Metz Handball (FRA)
Sunday, 15:00 hrs (local time)

The Hungarians were named as main favourites for the title by insiders, but they clearly lost their opener where they acted more individually than as a collective. Therefore, team play and more aggression is demanded by coach Csaba Konkoly. "We need to present ourselves as team - that’s the biggest motivation. Each of us has to give her maximum effort in both attack and defence. With this we can collect two points against Metz," said Adrienn Orbán, one of the few good performers of last weekend. Right now, Metz are more concerned about their coach, than the weekend opponent, as coach Sébastien Gardillou was hospitalized for an operation on his appendix, and is unlikely to be present in Hungary. In right-back Marie Prudhomme’s opinion "this will be a different game compared to last weekend, as Győr are on a different level, with a large squad and a very good team."

GROUP D

Grupo Asfi Itxako Navarra (ESP) vs. Buxtehuder SV (GER)
Saturday, 19:00 hrs (local time)

The Spaniards played a mature game in Russia to win against the strong home team of Dinamo, and underlined their results from last season, when they marched to the final. Coach Ambros Martín seems to have formed another quality team for this EHF Champions League tournament and for the game against Buxtehuder SV, he will now enjoy the return of Nerea Peña to the team. Despite the good news about his left-back, Martín might be without right-winger Carmen Martín against the Germans, as she is carrying a slight injury. On the other hand, Buxtehuder SV performed strongly in their CL opener, but lost by four goals against Oltchim Rm. Vâlcea. They will have a tough challenge in Estella and the team will have to play at their maximum to bring home the point(s) from Spain.

C.S. Oltchim Rm. Vâlcea (ROU) vs. Dinamo Volgograd (RUS)
Sunday, 18:00 hrs (local time)

The Russian champions had physical problems last weekend against Itxako and despite usually being a strong force on home soil, Anna Kochetova and her team-mates had no chance to beat the Spaniards. In coach Viktor Ryabikh’s opinion "there was not enough time to build team work. We are not ready yet in both, attack or defense." Ryabykh expects a stronger performance from his girls in Romania. The same is expected from former Vâlcea player Steluța Luca for her side: "We had a tough match in Germany that we won thanks to our experience. Against Dinamo, no other result than the victory is acceptable."


TEXT: Márk Hegedüs
 
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