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08.05.2015, 17:38
Balkan semi-final reprise - a classic in the making
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SEMI-FINAL 2 PREVIEW: Buducnost clash with Vardar for the second year in a row.

»EHF CL Channel »2014-15 Women's CL
»Final Four
»
 

Balkan semi-final reprise - a classic in the making

Last season, it took the extra time thriller for Buducnost to finally overcome brave WHC Vardar SCBT (22:20) in the 2014 MVM EHF FINAL4 semi-final. This year, Dragan Adzic’s defensive powerhouse will face the rampant Vardar side, ready to throw everything they have at their last year's nemesis in a bid to take revenge.

The 2012 Women’s EHF Champions League winners Buducnost, are unblemished in the competition so far, playing the undefeated season. Yet, the upset was looming over the Montenegrin powerhouse on two occasions, and it was no accident that Vardar were the ones to cause the “Blues” most problems - with neither side able to come out on top in their last encounter (24:24).

Unfinished business

After taking part in the very first event last season, both teams are back in Papp Laszlo Sportarena with new and improved squads and some unfinished business.

Buducnost team’s consistency and tactical discipline meets the unconstrained talent and flair of the Vardar girls, offering heaps of individual quality backed by the Balkan-Scandinavian synergy on the bench.

However, the immaculate Montenegrin tactician’s plans will heavily depend on the players’ readiness to feature, after facing more than the usual injury woes throughout the season.

“I expect Biljana Pavicevic to join the team in a day or two, and complete the squad that will hopefully travel to Budapest. We have done well to prepare, and it’s important to have the complete squad at my disposal. At a tournament like this, with two games in two days, rotation can bring the decisive difference,” said Dragan Adzic.

The decisive edge

Montenegrin giant have the experience on their side, with 11 players that made it to the final last term still in the team. Furthermore, seven players in the current squad have won the coveted trophy with Buducnost in 2012, including Katarina Bulatovic who is back in the team.

The quintessential Montenegrin has won more Champions League titles than all participating teams combined, and is back at the MVM EHF FINAL4, hoping to lift her fourth trophy.

While Jan Pytlick and Indira Kastratovic have a clean bill of health in their team, joining forces to spring a tactical surprise for their Montenegrin counterpart - Dragain Adzic will favour his tried and tested method of building Buducnost game from the lock-down defence.

“Buducnost have the all-important experience – they came close last season, and now we want to go all the way. There weren’t many departures, and I am back with the team which is bound to help,” said Katarina Bulatovic, while the WHC Vardar SCBT playmaker Andrea Lekic has reasons to believe her team’s attacking prowess will prevail against the lock-down Montenegrin defence.

“We are putting all of our strength and effort into this. We’re playing better and better, and we want the FINAL4 to be the pinnacle of the season. We better forget the last season’s duel, as this one is going to be a completely different story,” said Andrea Lekic.

Best scorers come face to face

With both teams raring to go, nurturing distinct approaches, it will come down to who will draw the first blood and set the pace of the game.

As the match progresses, the fans in the Papp Laszlo Sportarena will whiteness the shoot-out between two of the competition’s best scorers - Andrea Penezic (89 goals) and Cristina Neagu (92 goals).

“It’s not about me, it’s about the team. In a match like this one goal can decide the winner, and it doesn’t matter how much, but when you score them,” said Andrea Penezic.

Vardar will have to rely on their firepower in order to avoid being drawn into playing the low-scoring game, while Buducnost will prioritise neutralising the opponent’s attacking threat, before patiently seeking their chances trough the back court.

“We have to remain confident and composed for the entire 60 minutes. Vardar have enduread a lot changes and made a big improvement in comparison to the last season. I expect a big fight, and it is up to us to show composure and strength to bring down the big opponent,” said Dragan Adzic.


TEXT: Nemanja Savic / br
 
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