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02.03.2012, 00:40
Final decisions
«Go back »Print Version


We preview the fifth round of the EHF Women´s Champions League Main Round, which takes place this Sunday.

»EHF CL Channel »2011-12 Women's CL
»Main Round
»
 

Final decisions

Győri Audi ETO and Budućnost continued their march in their respective Main Round group and with their fourth straight victories both clubs earned a semi-final berth in the EHF Champions League.

In the last two rounds final decisions will be made with regard to the last two semi-final spots, so some thrilling and exciting games will await handball fans in the arenas and also in front of the television.


ehfTV.com has live coverage of the matches Larvik (NOR) vs. FC Midtjylland (DEN), C.S. Oltchim Rm. Vâlcea (ROU) vs. RK Krim Mercator (SLO) and Budućnost (MNE) vs. Metz Handball (FRA) on Sunday, but regional restrictions apply.

 For regional TV listings of all the EHF Women's Champions League matches click HERE.



GROUP 1




Larvik (NOR) vs. FC Midtjylland (DEN)
Sunday 4 March, 16:45 hrs (local time)


Live on ehfTV.com (regional restrictions apply)

The game in Norway will be a crucial match for both Scandinavian teams, as they are still in the race for a semi-final spot.

Last weekend Larvik only woke up in the second half against Itxako, after the Spaniards had already forged six goals ahead. The Norwegians fought back hard, and had chances to win the hot duel, but could only tie with their last year´s final opponent in the EHF Champions League.

Coach Ole Gustav Gjekstad underlines that, with the upcoming games, the most exciting period of the prestigious club tournament is approaching: "Besides the league matches we have played four very tough CL games, where we delivered a good job. We have suffered a bit in the back-court, where we could only count on two right-handed players after Tine Stange´s injury."

The trainer continued: "The whole team is ready to fight for the semi-final berth and, as the second half against Itxako showed, we have very good spirit. We have to put ourselves in a position where we can still control our own destiny, and I can promise that we will take good care of this."

On the other hand, FCM will have to go all out in Larvik if coach Ryan Zinglersen´s team is to qualify for the Top4 in the EHF Champions League.

Against Győri Audi ETO his side suffered a five-goal defeat and the team´s goal-scoring machine Trine Troelsen was not really satisfied: "I was marked very well by their defence and restricted too much."

Despite the defeat Zinglersen remains confident: "The chances are still in our hands. We believe that the Hungarians will arrive at the semi-final with a clean sheet in the group, so anything can happen. It will be difficult, but we need to believe in it, and we certainly do so!"

Wing-player Gitte Brøgger Led underlines what her coach said: "Győri Audi ETO will win the group with maximum points and then we can look forward to Itxako and Larvik, knowing that we can determine whether we continue in the semi-final or not. We must remain optimistic."



Győri Audi ETO (HUN) vs. Grupo Asfi Itxako Navarra (ESP)
Sunday 4 March, 17:15 hrs (local time)


The Hungarian champions have cut through their opponents so far like a hot knife through butter in the Main Round, whilst Itxako are far from last year´s results. Only a miracle can help the Spanish team to repeat last season´s success of advancing to the semi-final.

In a nail-biting thriller last weekend, where after 30 minutes Itxako were in clear lead against Larvik, coach Ambros Martín´s team was unable to repeat the first period performance, when his side only conceded six goals against the title-holder.

During the first half everything worked well for the Spaniards, the defensive line stood rock-solid, and in attack, Andrea Barnó and her colleagues executed their chances with great efficiency.

However, in the second period Larvik was the dominant team, and at the end, the scoreboard displayed a disappointing draw for the hosts, who will arrive in Hungary for a do or die match.

The players are fully aware of what’s at stake, and also have the pressure of knowing that a failure would absolutely be fatal, leaving the club out of the semi-final of the EHF Champions League.

The biggest question mark will be whether playmaker Macarena Aguilar will be able to go onto the court, as the agile centre-back broke her nose against Larvik, so her participation could be in doubt.

Győri Audi ETO have four victories in the bank and coach Karl Erik Bøhn´s team may become the group winner in front of their passionate spectators on Sunday.

The stands will be filled to capacity as match tickets have been sold out since Monday, with the fans waiting with great excitement for the clash against Itxako.

Coach Bøhn promised to shuffle his cards for the two remaining matches, to give playing time to several bench players: "We still aim for more points in our last two games, but as we have a very good squad, I certainly expect that our replacement players will give their best and we can celebrate victory against Itxako."

The experienced trainer added: "Our youngsters will collect some big match experience and routine at this high level, and they need to work together in live situations with our first line-up."

GROUP 2





C.S. Oltchim Rm. Vâlcea (ROU) vs. RK Krim Mercator (SLO)
Sunday 4 March, 18:00 hrs (local time)


Live on ehfTV.com (regional restrictions apply)

After last weekend’s Krim defeat, Slovenian chances for a semi-final berth minimized, whilst Oltchim, despite a lost point in Metz, are one step closer to a Top4 spot.

Krim lost their second home match in the Main Round, and now the visitors will need two victories in the remaining matches for a possible entry to the next phase of the prestigious tournament.

Against Budućnost not much worked in the first period. Krim paid far too much respect to the Montenegrins and every Slovenian error was severely punished by Budućnost.

Coach Tone Tiselj expects a tough match in the next rounds, but in his opinion "the other opponents are not as strong as the Montenegrins."

The trainer continued: "What I would really like is for all of my players to perform at their maximum level. That would be really nice. The entire team must work as one tight unit. We need to give our utmost against Oltchim and leave our hearts on the field. Then I’d be pleased, no matter what the outcome."

Theoretical chances for advancing to the semi-final exist, but for this the first step for Tiselj´s team would be to defeat the Romanians, who have dropped their level somewhat compared to the first two rounds.

Coach Radu Voina is not pleased with the results they have achieved, as in the last two matches Yeliz Özel and her colleagues have only earned one point, and also lost massively to group leader Budućnost on home turf.

Therefore on Wednesday, the Oltchim management informed the players and coaching staff that there will be a 50% reduction in player salaries, effective from 1st February. Oltchim president Constantin Roibu commented:

"Not only the players, but everyone around the team, including coaches, are responsible for the awful recent performances. Our best players are the foreigners as they have a different mentality. We won two matches at the start of the Main Round, and then we complacently thought we’d win another four with one hand tied behind the back."

Despite the poor performances of the last two weekends, Oltchim could advance to the semis with a draw against Krim.


Budućnost (MNE) vs. Metz Handball (FRA)
Sunday 4 March, 19:00 hrs (local time)


Live on ehfTV.com (regional restrictions apply)

Group leader Budućnost, with maximum points in the bank, will welcome French champions Metz who earned their first EHF Champions League Main Round point last weekend after a home draw against Oltchim.

The Montenegrins have reached the semi-final of the prestigious tournament again, and this year the team aims for the finals. Coach Dragan Adžić analyzed his side´s performance so far:

"As a team we are more mature compared to last season. The players that joined us for this season, Clara Woltering, Dragana Cvijić and Dijana Jovetić fit perfectly and they have all brought extra quality. Also, we have in Maja Savić an extraordinary player who, with her presence, behaviour, and game play has raised the whole team to another level."

The trainer already looked to the semi-final pairings, where Budućnost may meet title holder Larvik again:

"They´re weaker compared to last year, as Heidi Løke left for Győr and Gro Hammerseng has given birth. Still, at the World Championship, Norway won gold with the main core of the team coming from Larvik. Also, they have the outstanding Cecilie Leganger between the sticks, so the Norwegians have to be respected greatly."

Budućnost´s Sunday opponents Metz are out of the race for a semi-final berth, but still the French looked pleased after they earned their first Main Round point last weekend in a thrilling match against Oltchim.

In their first ever Main Round participation, Nina Kamto and her team-mates won´t end up on zero points in the tournament and with two away games on the schedule, the Moselle based team can still add further point(s) to their account.

Despite the team´s first point, coach Sébastien Gardillou´s team has nothing to hope for in the remaining two matches of the competition, except a nice farewell. Even so, the club has had a wonderful adventure among the world´s top clubs, and this is already a success story for this season.


TEXT: Márk Hegedüs
 
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