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15.02.2013, 10:43
Preview of EHF Champions League Main Round, Round 3
«Go back »Print Version


Reigning champions Budućnost Podgorica and Romanian title holders Oltchim Râmnicu Vâlcea in the make-or-break clashes.

»EHF CL Channel »2012-13 Women's CL
»Main Round
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Preview of EHF Champions League Main Round, Round 3

The third weekend of the Women´s EHF Champions League Main Round is pivotal for two teams clutching straws in their bids to avoid an early exit. As always all four matches will be shown live on ehfTV.com.

Reigning champions Budućnost Podgorica and Romanian title holders Oltchim Râmnicu Vâlcea have both lost their opening two games and hence face make-or-break clashes against tough opposition in their efforts to keep alive any hopes of progressing to the semi-finals.

Budućnost are at home to Randers, who also have two defeats out of two, while a star-studded Oltchim outfit entertain Russians Zvezda Zvenigorod on home court.

Meanwhile, high-flying Györ and Larvik will lock horns in a top of the table clash in Group 1, with the winners likely to have one foot in the last four.

Krim Mercator and Ferencváros, who both have a maximum four points in Group 2, are also set to provide an entertaining encounter with two valuable points at stake for both teams.  

Group 1
Budućnost Podgorica (MNE) vs Randers (DEN)  

Sunday, 19:00 hrs local time in Podgorica

Winning the trophy of the European premier club competition was always going to be a hard act to follow for the holders, whose youthful and revamped outfit did well to reach the Main Round in the first place.

Last weekend Budućnost lost a gripping and physical home tie to former champions Larvik, whose steely defence confined the Montenegrins to just 18 goals as the competition’s top scorer Milena Knežević netted just four times.  

“So far, we have only played two matches, but it is obvious that we are going to need some points now. I see no reason why we shouldn’t be able to take two in Montenegro against Budućnost on Sunday. They are also under pressure and still having to deal with huge expectations from their home crowd,” Randers coach Jan Leslie said.

Larvik (NOR) vs Györi Audi ETO KC (HUN)
Saturday, 17:45 hrs local time in Larvik

What a clash of the titans this promises to be. While Larvik are looking to add more European silverware to their trophy cabinet, Györ will be eager to win their first title in the continent’s elite club event.

Defeat will not spell disaster for either side as they share the top spot in the group with a maximum four points each, but there is everything to play for because the winners will have made a huge step towards the semi-finals.

Larvik coach Ole Gustav Gjekstad was beaming with confidence after his team’s hard-fought 20:18 win at Budućnost, avenging a crushing 10-goal defeat by the same opposition in the return leg of last year’s semis.

“Of course now we are very happy. Two points from this game are very important and the win puts us in a good position,” Gjekstad said.

Gjekstad’s compatriot Heidi Løke, Györ’s line player who faces an emotional encounter with her former team mates, made it clear in no uncertain terms what she expects against her close friends from the Norwegian national team.  

“The group has shaped up in such a way that Larvik will be our toughest rival in the Main Round, they have a very strong team,” Løke said.

Group 2:
FTC Rail Cargo Hungaria (HUN) vs Krim Mercator (SLO)

Sunday, 15:15 hrs local time in Dabas  

Both teams have been a surprise package in the Main Round so far quite simply because both have beaten group and competition favourites Oltchim Râmnicu Vâlcea to boost their chances of reaching the last four.

But FTC Rail Cargo Hungaria will be sorely missing their Spanish star Nerea Pena, who is out for the rest of the season after tearing her right knee cruciate ligaments in a dramatic 35:34 home win over Russians Zvezda Zvenigorod.

It will be a bitter blow to the Hungarian side after Pena scored 10 goals in the opening away victory over Oltchim and her team will now have to rely on the shooting prowess of back court sniper Zsuzsanna Tomori, who scored 10 of FTC’s opening 22 goals and versus Zvezda.

The towering Tomori finished with a whopping 15 goals to stay the competition’s second highest scorer on 60, but Ferencváros coach Gábor Elek acknowledged Pena’s absence could have a telling impact in the remaining Group Matches.

"Nerea's injury has made our task difficult. Thank God Bettina Dajka was a fitting replacement because she was one of the best players against Zvezda,” Elek said.

Krim, on the other hand, are flourishing after their injured stars returned to full fitness and will hope that Croatian left back Andrea Penezić can repeat her majestic performance against Oltchim, when she rifled in 11 goals against the Romanian champions.

Group 2
Oltchim Râmnicu Vâlcea (ROU) vs Zvezda Zvenigorod (RUS)  

Saturday, 19:00 hrs local time in Vâlcea

Having suffered two shock defeats after losing middle back Cristina Neagu to injury, EHF Champions League favourites Oltchim have no more margin for error if they are to avoid what would be an embarrassing exit for a team aiming for the trophy.

Montenegro right back Katarina Bulatović rediscovered her shooting form in a 28:24 defeat at Krim, scoring 10 goals against the Slovenian side, but her valiant solo effort was not enough and Oltchim’s other players will have to step up to the plate in order to chalk up their first win in the second group stage of the competition.

Zvezda can count themselves unlucky to have lost at FTC Rail Cargo Hungaria in a high-scoring encounter and will hope to produce a similar kind of gutsy performance in Romania.


TEXT: Zoran Milosavljević / br
 
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