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13.03.2014, 17:52
Three teams in battle for two tickets
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ROUND PREVIEW: Only the last four matches of the Main Round will set the semi-finals pairings of the first Women's EHF FINAL4 in Budapest.

»EHF CL Channel »2013-14 Women's CL
»Main Round
»
 

Three teams in battle for two tickets

The tension and the excitement in the last weekend of the main round in the Women's EHF Champions League are really concentrated on Group 1.
In this group, Thüringer HC, WHC Vardar SCBT and FC Midtjylland are fighting for the two tickets for the Women's EHF FINAL4 in Budapest on the 3 and 4 May.

Which two teams will qualify is going to be decided Sunday, where both matches will be of importance, if FC Midtjylland manage to beat Thüringer HC with at least three goals.

If they do, Vardar will need at least a draw in their home game against IK Sävehof in order to clinch their FINAL4 berth.

From Group 2, Györi Audi ETO and Buducnost are already qualified, so only the first place and the honour are at stake when Györ receive Larvik, and Buducnost take on RK Krim Mercator.

Group 1
FC Midtjylland (DEN) vs Thüringer HC (GER)
Sunday 16 March 16.00 local time in Ikast Brande Arena, Ikast, live on ehfTV.com

A thriller is to be expected on the Central Jutland moor Sunday afternoon. A win with three goals or more will send FC Midtjylland to the Women's EHF FINAL4 regardless of the outcome of the evening game between Vardar and Sävehof, while it will leave THC in anxious wait for the match in Skopje.

Any other result in Ikast will mean that the German champions are among the four best teams in Europe for the first time in history. And THC top scorer Nadja Nagornaja finds that she and her teammates deserve the ticket for Budapest.

“After the performances we have shown in the main round, we fully deserve to be part of the FINAL4 in Budapest. If we do not have the icing on the cake, the season cannot be called a successful one,” she recently told ehfCL.com.

FC Midtjylland did not get the best possible dress rehearsal ahead of the crucial Sunday game – to say the least.
Wednesday evening, the Danish champions lost 27:24 at home to EHF Cup semi-finalists Team Esbjerg in the Danish league.

However, Midtjylland are determined to avenge the poor performance Wednesday and clinch their FINAL4 berth Sunday.

“We believe we can beat Thüringer Sunday. A place in the semi-finals of the Champions League is at stake, and we (swear worth) want to be part of those semi-finals”, Midtjylland coach Helle Thomsen told the club's website.

WHC Vardar SCBT (MKD) vs IK Sävehof (SWE)
Sunday 16 March 18.00 local time in Boris Trajkovski, Skopje, live on ehfTV.com

The match may and may not be of importance to Vardar, while it has no importance with regards to the standing for Sävehof who are sure to finish fourth and last anyway.

However, Vardar will know what is at stake when they enter the court. If FC Midtjylland manage to defeat Thüringer HC earlier Sunday, Vardar will need at least a draw in order to qualify for Budapest.   

If Midtjylland do not win, Vardar are in the FINAL4 no matter how they do against Sävehof. However, the Macedonian team should not expect an easy game against the Swedish champions, no matter how important the match might be to them.

“We are playing away against a team who may have everything to play for, but we took a point from them the last time we met them, and we will do our utmost to get a similar result this time and end the fine job we have done in this tournament,” Sävehof coach Henrik Signell told ehfCL.com.

Group 2
RK Krim Mercator (SLO) vs Buducnost (MNE)
Saturday 15 March 20.30 local time in Arena Stozice, Ljubljana, live on ehfTV.com

If Györ should stumble at home against Larvik Sunday, a Buducnost win in Slovenia will give them the first place in the group and the hope for a possibly easier semi-final opponent, than the second place may give.

This and the honour is really what is at stake Saturday night in the Slovenian capital.

Buducnost, who will travel to Slovenia without suspended Milena Knezevic, are sure to follow Györ to the FINAL4, while Krim have had their day in the tournament, only having the chance to avoid finishing last in the group in case of a win and a Larvik defeat in Györ Sunday.

Györi Audi ETO KC (HUN) vs Larvik (NOR)
Sunday 16. March 19.05 local time in Szechenyi Istvan Egyetem Sportcsarnok, Györ, live on ehfTV.com

When the match starts, Györ will know if they need a draw in order to finish on top of the group. If Buducnost do not manage to win against Krim Saturday night, Györ can afford a defeat and still win Group 2.

However, there is no doubt that the ruling Women's EHF Champions League winners will want to stay undefeated anyway.

Larvik will also want to finish in style, though. The Norwegian champions, who met Györ in the Champions League final last season, are without the chance to qualify for the FINAL4, but with the strong line player and defender Isabel Blanco back from injury, they will be eager to end a disappointing Champions League campaign with the triumph which an away win against Györ would be after all.


TEXT: Peter Bruun / br
 
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