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10.04.2013, 12:29
Oltchim and Larvik playing catch-up
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Preview of the Women´s EHF Champions League Semi-finals - the both visitors trail by two goals ahead of the second leg.

»EHF CL Channel »2012-13 Women's CL
»Semi-Finals
»
 

Oltchim and Larvik playing catch-up

The return legs of the Women’s EHF Champions League semi-finals should keep handball fans throughout Europe on the edge of their seats much like the reverse fixtures, in which Györ and Krim enjoyed slender away wins over Oltchim and Larvik respectively.

Both ties are hence delicately balanced in terms of results, but one gets the feeling it would take something special for Oltchim to topple Györ who have struck primal fear into the hearts of all opponents in Europe this season with an unstoppable run of 13 straight wins.

Krim, in contrast, had squeezed into the Main Round where they upped their game before producing their best performance when they needed to most, in an impressive 24:22 win over 2011 winners Larvik in the first leg.

If Oltchim qualify for the final, they will be away in the return leg because they were at home in the 2010 final return leg against Viborg, while a draw will take place in Vienna on 16 April to determine who will host what leg if Györ and Krim or Larvik advance.

Györi Audi ETO KC (HUN) vs Oltchim Râmnicu Vâlcea (ROU)
Thursday, 19:00 hours local time in Veszprém

Györ will head into the return leg as clear favourites to reach their second successive final after winning the reverse fixture in Romania 24:22 but will be wary of a potent Oltchim side capable of staging a comeback.

The Hungarian title holders will have to keep a close eye on Oltchim’s Montenegrin shooter Katarina Bulatović, who scored eight goals in the first leg and was a constant threat to Györ’s 6-0 defence.

The home side, on the other hand, will hope that they can reproduce the kind of balanced team effort that saw them take the tie by the scruff of the neck in Romania, aiming to finally win the trophy that keeps eluding them.

Bulatović, who won the title last year with Budućnost Podgorica, said Oltchim needed to keep cool heads if they are to defy the odds and overturn the first-leg deficit.

“I am really keen to play in the final again and we can win in Veszprém if we are able to channel our emotions, stay calm and focus on the task ahead,” the towering right back told Oltchim’s official website.

“It will of course be a raucous atmosphere and Györ will have the kind of support we had in the first leg in Bucharest, but we have to concentrate on the court,” she added.

Krim Mercator (SLO) vs Larvik HK (NOR)
Saturday, 20:30 hours local time in Ljubljana  

Having last won the EHF Champions League trophy more than a decade ago, Slovenian powerhouse Krim are only 60 minutes away from advancing into this season’s final after an impressive first-leg performance over the more fancied Larvik.

The home side will hope that German right back Susann Müller, who scored eight goals from as many shots in Norway, will reproduce her effervescent display after announcing that she will join HC Leipzig at the end of what Krim hopes to be a memorable season.

In addition, Krim boasts a plethora of other international stars, namely Croatian left back Andrea Penezić, her compatriot in goal Jelena Grubišić and Spanish right wing Carmen Martin Berenguer, who all shone in the first leg as they dismantled Larvik.

The Norwegians, who exited the competition at the same stage last year when they were comprehensively beaten by Budućnost, have 21 wins from as many games in the Norwegian league which they perennially dominate one season after another.

However, overturning a two-goal deficit against Krim will constitute a much tougher challenge than any test of will and character they might have faced in domestic competition. Hence Gro Hammerseng and company will have to dig deep into their resources and experience if they are to pull off what would now amount to an upset.


TEXT: Zoran Milosavljević / br
 
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