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15.03.2013, 13:13
Preview of the Women´s EHF Champions League Main Round
«Go back »Print Version


The race for the semi-finals in Group 2 will reach the thrilling climax over the weekend.

»EHF CL Channel »2012-13 Women's CL
»Main Round
»
 

Preview of the Women´s EHF Champions League Main Round

The final matchday of the main round will determine which two teams in Group 2 will advance to the semi-finals of the Women´s EHF Champions League, while both games in Group 1 are dead rubbers, with Györ securing their passage as the group winners and Larvik assured of the runners-up spot.

But the situation in Group 2 has set the stage for an enthralling weekend, as Ferencváros will be left sweating on their fate even if they beat Zvezda on Saturday. The final standings will only be determined by the last group match on Sunday, when Oltchim are at home to Krim Mercator.


Group 1
Larvik HK (NOR) vs Budućnost Podgorica (MNE)  

Saturday, 17:45 hrs local time in Larvik

With a bit more luck, outgoing champions Budućnost Podgorica would have headed into this match hopeful of staying in the competition, but a brave 22:21 home defeat by Györ last weekend condemned them to a main round exit and sent Larvik through to the last four.

Still, Budućnost coach Dragan Adžić was not disappointed and acknowledged that teams who had invested heavily finished ahead of his youthful outfit missing a whole bunch of household names who either retired or moved on to wealthier rivals.

“We tried to pull off a miracle and reach the semis but the reality is that four teams who have apparently invested the most will reach the last four,” said the trophy-laden coach, who guided Budućnost to last year’s glory and also steered Montenegro to the EHF EURO 2012 title in December.

“I can be proud of my players and the way they performed, we were in the hunt until the very end I must also thank our phenomenal fans, who kept backing us with undiminished passion although they knew the team was weaker than in the previous two seasons,” he added.

Larvik, who stole a crucial march on Budućnost when they beat them in Podgorica’s Morača Hall, will take this game as a perfect dress rehearsal for what will certainly be a tough semi-final against the Group 2 winners, either Oltchim Râmnicu Vâlcea or Krim Mercator.

Györi Audi ETO KC (HUN) vs Randers (DEN)
Saturday, 16:00 hrs local time in Györ

Maintaining their perfect record and getting a 12th successive win this season should be a sufficient motive for Györ to fire on all cylinders in their final main round game, while Randers will try to make a dignified exit after collecting just one point in five matches.

The home team’s Spanish coach Ambros Martin made it clear in no uncertain terms that last year’s finalists were taking the game very seriously.

“We are preparing for it with 100 percent intensity because it is of utmost importance to maintain our focus,” he said for handball.hu. “It would be nice to end the main round on a high note and seal a 12th successive win that would also reward our fans for their fantastic support and further boost our confidence ahead of the semi-finals.”

“It is vital to keep up a good atmosphere and mentally important for the team to maintain their perfect record,” Martin emphasised.

Randers, for their part, will head into the fixture buoyed by the news that their inspirational Spanish middle back Macarena Aguilar Diaz has extended her contract with the club for another year.

Group 2:
Zvezda Zvenigorod (RUS) vs FTC Rail Cargo Hungaria (HUN)

Saturday, 17:00 hrs local time in Zvenigorod    

Ferencváros seemed to be in the driving seat to reach the Women’s EHF Champions League semi-finals after winning their opening three main round games, but crushing defeats in dogfights against Krim and Oltchim have left them teetering on the brink of elimination.

FTC can still advance to the last four, but their fate is no longer in their own hands. Assuming they overpower Zvezda, who have lost all their five games so far, the Hungarian side will need Oltchim to either beat Krim by a highly unlikely margin of 15 goals or fail to win against the Slovenians.

If Oltchim match FTC’s result on the final day, the Hungarians will be out of the competition no matter what they do against Zvezda, as last season’s Cup Winners´ Cup conquerors would in that case finish third in the group.

Zsuzsanna Tomori, the top scorer of Europe’s elite club competition with 85 goals, is likely to stay at the pinnacle as this game is tailor-made for the lethal left back and her shooting prowess.

But whether Tomori continues her quest depends on a very kind convergence of circumstances she and her team are hoping for on the final weekend of what has been a gripping main round campaign.    

Oltchim Râmnicu Vâlcea (ROU) vs Krim Mercator (SLO)  
Sunday, 17:00 hrs local time in Râmnicu Vâlcea   

For all their heavy investment during the close-season, Oltchim looked out of the reckoning for a semi-final berth after successive defeats by FTC and Krim in their opening two Main Round games, coupled with left back Cristina Neagu’s season-ending injury as well as the departure of line player Ionela Stanca, who left the club over unpaid wages.

But the woes only seemed to galvanise the Romanian champions, who earned a pair of wins in their doubleheader against Zvezda Zvenigorod before they romped to a crucial 30:23 away rout of FTC which has put them on the brink of progressing to the last four.

Oltchim now have to beat Slovenian title holders Krim in their last game and if they do, they will be assured of advancing to the semi-finals. A win by three goals or more would mean finishing top of the group and playing Larvik rather than Györ in the semis.

A draw could also be enough and even defeat would not spell disaster in the final chicane – provided that FTC do not getter a better result than Oltchim in the thrilling climax. Oltchim will finish ahead of FTC if both teams are level on points because of their better head-to-head record against the Hungarians.

Krim, who are top of the standings two points ahead of both teams at the moment, only need to make sure they don’t collapse and lose by 15 goals or more in order to reach the last four. Even a defeat by less than three goals would leave Krim top of the group and the three-way scenario offers a fascinating contest and their two backcourt sharpshooters – Oltchim’s right back Katarina Bulatović and Krim’s left back Andrea Penezić. 
 


TEXT: Zoran Milosavljević / br
 
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