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04.10.2013, 13:13
Jurack: Goalkeepers are the main key for success
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BLOG: Our Women’s EHF Champions League expert gives an in-depth view of her expectations for the group matches and beyond
 

Jurack: Goalkeepers are the main key for success

One main favourite, two open groups and five contenders for the semi-finals – those are the expectations of three-time EHF Champions league winner Grit Jurack. The German right back, who ended her career in 2012, is again one of the EHF experts for the upcoming season.

In general, Jurack believes that goalkeepers are the main key for success: “If you have, for example, Katrine Lunde-Haraldsen in your team, it is much easier to raise a trophy.

“She is the bonus factor in the strong team of the defending champions Györ and for reasons other than her, Györ are my clear favourites to defend their title,” Jurack says, while also focusing on other goalkeepers.

“Just look at Larvik with their experienced duo of Lene Rantala and Cecilie Leganger or the two German keepers Clara Woltering at Podgorica and Sabine Englert for Midtjylland – all of them guarantee stability for the defence and provide their teams with the security and easiness you need,” explains our expert.

Besides Györ, Jurack counts on four possible teams to make it so the semi-finals – including two more semi-finalists of the previous season: Krim and Larvik.

In addition she expects FTC as a main contender – and Vardar Skopje, “if they manage to build a team from their tremendous individual players”.

“But it is really hard to predict four teams, as the draw for the main round will finally unveil, which teams might go all the way.

“Even finishing first in the group matches does not guarantee an easy group, as still one more group winner and maybe two very strong runner-ups will join your group,” says Juarack.

Her opinion about the four groups of the first stage:

Group A
Györ will not drop a single point, as they have even strengthened their squad with Katarina Bulatovic. Hypo and Thüringer HC will fight for the second position. Hypo is like a jamboree bag, you never know what’s inside and what to expect from this “Brazilian national team”.

Without their key player Nadja Nadgornaja it will be tough for Thüringer HC, but they have widened and bolstered their squad. Baia Mare is a serious competitor, proven by eliminating my former club Viborg and Holstebro in qualification. However, I think their squad is not deep enough to endanger their opponents.

Group B
“Another clear favourite for winning the group: FTC. They have a well-balanced and well-rehearsed team, improved by the signing of Laura Steinbach. They were a powerhouse in Hungary, now I estimate them to become a European-wide force.

My former long-term teammate Bojana Popovic definitely knows about handball – and so all Buducnost transfers are quite interesting, especially the Dane Camilla Dalby. At Podgorica it is always a matter of mentality, they can beat every opponent by ten goals, but on a bad day they also can lose by ten goals. Due to their home strength they should clearly make it to the main round.

I expect Midtjylland and Lublin to be hopeless in the fight for the next stage. The FCM squad is to small to withstand the pressure of both Champions League and the strong Danish league. Lublin are the clear underdogs – but they might be the ones to tip the scale by beating one of the main contenders at home and influence the final ranking.



Group C
The first and the fourth positions are set in my opinion. Krim will rank on top clearly and Sävehof have no chance. So my former club Leipzig and Metz will fight for a berth in the main round.

It will be interesting to see how Leipzig cope with the pregnancy of their top goalkeeper Katja Schülke, but I expect an open race – with Leipzig having a better chance to proceed compared to the other German side Thüringer HC in group A.

Group D
Without giving all they can and even with the possibility to rest and save some power, Larvik and Vardar will make it to the main round. I am keen to see how these totally different mentalities and nationalities will fit into the Vardar team.

Especially when the World Championship is over, the players who will participate in Serbia, will return home with totally different emotions, some won, some lost, some happy, some disappointed – in no other team will those things be more decisive than at Vardar.

Regarding the third position I expect Bera Bera to be stronger than the fully revamped team of Podravka.


TEXT: Grit Juarck, EHF expert blogger
 
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