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13.10.2011, 12:00
The Race Continues for the Last 16
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We preview Round 3 of the EHF Women´s Champions League, which takes place this weekend.
 

The Race Continues for the Last 16

Round 2 of the EHF Women´s Champions League brought tense and exciting matches, and the same high quality and electric atmosphere is expected for this weekend’s third round matches.

In two groups, the undefeated teams will face each other in a mouth-watering battle for top spot, whilst close encounters are expected in many of the other groups too.

In Group C, only one game will be played as the match between Hypo Niederösterreich and Győri AUDI ETO has been postponed until 9 November 2011.

GROUP A

Byåsen (NOR) vs. Thüringer HC (GER)
Saturday, 13:15 hrs (local time)

Neither of these new teams to the EHF Champions League have any points so far, giving both sides an extra incentive with the main round still within reach, as well as the Cup Winners´ Cup.

Although Thüringer HC were unlucky in front of goal in their Second Round game, the Norwegians´ match turned into a debacle in Montenegro where they lost by 10 goals. Coach Valery Putans is hoping that Ida Alstad, the main force of the Byåsen attacks, makes a return from the injury she picked up against Budućnost.

For the Germans, coach Herbert Müller is demanding more of his players take on a shooting role after their defeat in Round Two. “Last weekend our attacking was limited to only two players,” he said. “So we have to broaden our offensive efficiency in Trondheim.”

Budućnost (MNE) vs. FC Midtjylland (DEN)
Sunday, 19:30 hrs (local time)

Both teams are looking good for the next stage having won their first two games. But in this head to head clash one of them will come closer to the top 8 of Europe´s elite.

The Danes have a busy schedule with two matches in between their EHL Women’s Champions League games. They played a Danish cup game against Esbjerg on Tuesday, and today they´ll play a league match.

With a long journey to Montenegro awaiting them, physical condition and squad rotation will play important roles as FCM try to match a Dragan Adžić side which crushed Byåsen in Round Two.

Meanwhile, the hosts are well aware of the great importance of this clash, which will also be an intriguing match-up between the two German goalkeepers of the clubs, Budućnost´s Clara Woltering and FCM´s Sabine Englert. The latter commented: “In Montenegro, we will not be the favourites but we don’t mind being underdogs.”

GROUP B

Viborg HK (DEN) vs. HC Podravka Vegeta (CRO)
Saturday, 14:30 hrs (local time)

Viborg go into this match with a great victory over Larvik and a disappointing defeat to RK Krim Mercator, so all eyes will be on Martin Albertsen’s team to see how they perform against the Croatian champions.

The coach was obviously disappointed with the terrible start of 0:10, but was pleased with the attitude of his team in the second half: “Apart from the league game against Randers, it was the first time we had been really pushed physically.

“We had to realise that, as a team, we were not yet strong enough to cope with so much adversity. But I was happy with our fighting attitude and this is the positive thing we can take from the match.”

Podravka on the other hand are under pressure to perform having lost both of their games, and will have to go all-out in Denmark to collect their first points. Despite losing by 12 goals, the game was still close for 40 minutes against Larvik before they eventually collapsed. In Saturday’s game they will need to concentrate for the whole 60 minutes, as Viborg want to lay to rest their Slovenian nightmare and collect maximum points from their two home games.

Larvik (NOR) vs. RK Krim Mercator (SLO)
Sunday, 14:15 hrs (local time)

With Viborg having beaten Larvik and Krim defeating Viborg, on paper at least Krim have to win this duel - but the reality is not so easy with EHF Champions League title defender Larvik aiming to stop the Solvenian’s good run.

With an improved game plan, the Norwegians are starting to come into form and they are aiming to match the highly skillful performances from last season that terrorised their opponents.

Krim played a massive game against Viborg in Round Two but made too many easy mistakes towards the end, an issue that coach Tone Tiselj wants to resolve before playing in Norway. For him a strong defence is the key to success, and this is also underlined by 20-year-old Tamara Mavsar who adds: “We are optimistic of reaching the top, but we are taking games step by step. As a new team, we must get to know each other better. With a good defence, the results will come.”

GROUP C

Randers HK (DEN) vs. Metz Handball (FRA)
Sunday, 16:50 hrs (local time)

Randers´ Katrine Fruelund saved her side in Austria last weekend with her nine-goal performance and commanding attitude, and helped the Danes to battle back from behind to win the match and top the group.

The spirit and morale of the team enabled them to overcome a desperate second half, and Randers want to remain focused to collect another victoryover their French counterpart.

But Metz also showed good fighting spirit in Round Two, despite losing to title favourites AUDI ETO. As Randers won against the Hungarians, Allison Pineau and her team-mates have to go all out for victory if they want to maintain their hopes of a place in the Main Round.

Some quality handball can be expected from this clash between two quality teams who are both battling for their first ever place in the Main Round of the EHF Champions League.

The match Hypo Niederösterreich vs. Győri AUDI ETO will be played 9 November.

GROUP D

Grupo Asfi Itxako Navarra (ESP) vs. C.S. Oltchim Rm. Vâlcea (ROU)
Saturday, 19:00 hrs (local time)

With both teams unbeaten, something has to give as these two classy teams battle it out for top spot in Round Three.

The two clubs are not unknown to each other, as they met last year in the main round when the Spaniards narrowly won both matches with a narrow home victory being followed by a clear win in Romania.

But Oltchim are strengthened by new signing Oana Chirilă Şoit, and are out for revenge. Chirilă knows the strengths and weaknesses of their opponent, having played in Estella last season and returned home after having spent several years in Spain.

Her former club Itxako made good progress in the tournament last year, and with the return of Begoña Fernández andNerea Peña, are considered favourites for this fascinating match-up.

Buxtehuder SV (GER) vs. Dinamo Volgograd (RUS)
Sunday, 20:30 hrs (local time)

With both these teams on zero points, the winner of Sunday’s clash will be hoping to go third and secure qualification to the Cup Winners´ Cup.

For Dinamo, even that would be a disappointment having reached the Main Round in recent seasons. Viktor Ryabykh´s side faced tough opponents in Itxako and Oltchim Rm. Vâlcea in their opening two games which lost. Ryabykh, who celebrated his birthday on Sunday, described those two losses as a nightmare start, and is demanding a much more focused performance from his side as they chase their first points.

Germany´s runner-up Buxtehude were humiliated in Spain last weekend, and the team was devastated after the clear defeat. “As underdogs we could have played without pressure, but we collapsed,” analysed Stefanie Melbeck.

In the match against Dinamo, Buxtehude will be supported by the fans of Hamburger SV who will warm-up the hall before the women´s game with a VELUX EHF Champions League match against HC Metalurg from FYR Macedonia.


TEXT: Márk Hegedüs
 
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