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19.11.2013, 19:37
First teams on the brink of qualification
«Go back »Print Version


ROUND PREVIEW: Round 6 could see the first teams qualify for the Last 16 in the reverse fixtures of Round 5

»EHF CL Channel »2013-14 Men's CL
»Group Phase
»
 

First teams on the brink of qualification

Two teams can already clinch their berth for the Last 16 in Round 6 of the VELUX EHF Champions League under certain circumstances: MKB-MVM Veszprém in Group A and defending champions HSV Hamburg in Group D – the only teams with five victories in five matches by now. Additionally, in case of a Porto defeat at Plock, the winner of the Group B top match Kielce vs. Kolding and Kiel (if they beat Dunkerque again) can only mathematically miss the knock-out stage.

The duels of Round 6 are the reverse fixtures of last weekend – and the shortest turnover between the first and the second leg is just 72 hours in the case of the Kiel vs. Dunkerque encounter – the opener of the next round on Wednesday.

Group A:
St. Petersburg HC (RUS) vs. HC Motor Zaporozhye (UKR)

Thursday, 19:30 hrs. local time – first leg: 24:29

Still on zero points, St. Petersburg need a small miracle to finish victorious against the re-inspired Ukrainians. However, the Russians showed in the second half of the first leg that they still have fighting spirit.

Nevertheless, Zaporozhye are the stronger team – and can make a huge step towards the knock-out stage, bringing in the best case a three point margin between them and the duo of Celje and Zagreb.

HC Croatia Osiguranje Zagreb (CRO) vs. Rhein-Neckar Löwen (GER)
Saturday, 18:00 hrs. local time – first leg: 26:34

Rhein Neckar Löwen have never lost at Zagreb and looking upon the easy-going victory in the first leg, they are supposed to take two more points which would confirm their second rank in this group.

On home ground and boosted by thousand of fans, the Croatian record champions are clearly stronger and though it will not be easy, Löwen are in the favourites role.

MKB-MVM Veszprém (HUN) vs. Celje Pivovarna Lasko (SLO)
Saturday, 18:45 hrs. local time – first leg: 31:26

A victory on home court – and Veszprém will clinch their berth in the Last 16, as then they cannot be overtaken by Celje anymore.

After a tough first 40 minutes the Hungarians finally easily took the points at Celje and having their home strength in mind, the task for the brave fighting Slovenians is more than tough.

Group B.
THW Kiel (GER) vs. Dunkerque HB Grand Littoral (FRA)

Wednesday, 19:00 hrs. local time – first leg: 29:21

Only 72 hours after the first leg, both teams face again – and the roles are even clearer marked than on Sunday in Dunkerque.

On home ground Kiel seem to be unbeatable and USDK coach Patrick Cazal must prepare his young and internationally inexperienced team for the very special atmosphere caused by more than 9,000 spectators in the Sparkassenarena.

Orlen Wisla Plock (POL) vs. FC Porto Vitalis (POR)
Thursday, 20:00 hrs. local time – first leg: 24:20

Another win for Plock would all but decide the fourth spot in this group, as then the Portuguese champions would already be four points below the Polish runners-up – and would have lost the direct encounter.

Funny enough, Plock still wait for their first point on home court, as they had hosted Kiel and Kielce before, losing both encounters by close margins. On the other hand, a Porto win would fully level the race for the Last 16 again.

KS Vive Targi Kielce (POL) vs. KIF Kolding Kobenhavn (DEN)
Sunday, 17:00 hrs. local time – first leg: 24:29

How will Kielce react on their first defeat after 14 straight victorious group matches? They need to improve especially in attack to be successful. Coach Bogdan Wenta and his players know that they can rely on the brilliant support of their home crowd in this crucial match.

Another defeat would bring Kielce nearly out of the race for the top spot, while KIF (still hosting Kiel) would be in a better position. Again the defence and goalkeeping will decide this match of two of the most experienced teams of this competition.

Group C:
FC Barcelona (ESP) vs. HC Dinamo Minsk (BLR)

Saturday, 12:15 hrs. local time – first leg: 35:25

Even before Spanish lunch time the starting whistle will be blown in Palau Blaugrana. If Barcelona expectedly beat Minsk again, they only need one more point from the remaining four matches to clinch their berth for the Last16.

However, they know what can happen: Last season Minsk were in lead for 59 minutes in Palau, and finally fully unlucky lost by one goal. Barca coach Xavi Pascual only need to show the video of this match to get the awareness of his players. Minsk have nothing to lose, knowing that they need to take their points for the knock-out stage against other opponents.

PSG Handball (FRA) vs. Wacker Thun (SUI)
Saturday, 18:00 hrs. local time – first leg: 34:28

Anything but a clear victory would be a surprise in the unequal duel of the world class squad and the Swiss debutants.

At home Wacker stood strong after the break and did not allow PSG to win by a double-figured result. Paris have the chance to pass the losers of the All-Macedonian clash at Skopje in the ranking.

HC Vardar (MKD) vs. HC Metalurg (MKD)
Sunday, 18:00 hrs. local time – first leg: 27:22

Same match, same place, same players – only the home right differs, and the game is the ehfTV.com Match of the Week. After the unexpected clear “away” win in the Boris Trajkovski arena, Vardar now are the home team in the Macedonian duel.

Everybody on Metalurg’s side expect a clear reaction of coach Lino Cervar and the players, after especially showing a weak defence performance against their city rivals. On the other hand Vardar are boosted with confidence. If they can find their fast-break based rhythm and if they can continue that strong in defence, they are the favourites. The winner of this encounter will remain in second position.

Group D:
SG Flensburg-Handewitt (GER) vs. HSV Hamburg (GER)

Thursday, 19:00 hrs. local time – first leg: 27:32

In case they win at Flensburg and Velenje do not beat La Rioja, defending champions HSV Hamburg would already clinch their berth for the Last 16.

However, Flensburg are eagerly awaiting the opportunity to take revenge for the first leg defeat – eleven days after they had beaten Hamburg on home ground in Bundesliga.

RK Gorenje Velenje (SLO) vs. ESP Naturhouse La Rioja (ESP)
Saturday, 20:30 hrs. local time – first leg: 31:34

Velenje stand with their backs against the wall after four straight defeats including the one in the first leg at Spain. They urgently need to beat La Rioja – and to be sure by more than three goals difference to have the direct encounter on their side in the race for the Last 16.

As host, the Slovenian champions are much stronger than in away matches and La Rioja took all their four points at home.

Aalborg Handball (DEN) vs. HK DROTT Halmstad (SWE)
Sunday, 15:00 hrs. local time – first leg: 35:26

In the best case scenario – beating Halmstad again and Flensburg getting defeated by Hamburg – Aalborg can enter second position before facing Flensburg on home ground one week later.

The Danes are the favourites after the clear away victory in the first leg, but it will be interesting to see how players and fans react on the announcement of the departure of coach Nikolaj Jacobsen to Rhein Neckar Löwen at the end of the season. 


TEXT: Björn Pazen / cor
 
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