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01.10.2015, 12:10
Leaders face a tough test on the road
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GROUP C PREVIEW: Thursday night handball throws up some intriguing encounters in the race for the top two

»EHF CL Channel »2015-16 Men's CL
»Group Phase
»
 

Leaders face a tough test on the road

Two matches on Thursday evening, live on ehfTV, will get Round 3 of VELUX EHF Champions League Group C underway.

One of the highlights of the group will be played in Russia, as leaders Meshkov Brest face a stern test in Chekhov. Surprise package of the second round, Vojvodina, welcome Porto, while bottom placed Tatran Prešov travel to Spain in search of their first points against Naturhouse La Rioja.

Group C:

Chekhovskie Medvedi (RUS) vs Meshkov Brest (BLR)
Thursday 1 October, 19:00 hrs local time, live on ehfTV

One of the highlights of this group will be played on Thursday evening in Chekhov. Following two convincing wins, Brest travel to Russia to take on Medvedi in a match that can make the picture of the group lot clearer.

The Russian Champions lost their last two games, in Vojvodina and against Kaspiya in domestic championship. According to coach Maximov, both in two minutes, when they lost concentration.

What is the key behind success of Brest? Collective performance, efficiency in attack and player of the month according to Meshkov’s fans, Ivan Pesic, in goal. However, Brest are yet to meet the “stronger” teams in the group and coach Sergey Bebeshko is fully aware of it.

“With this format, every point can be crucial. Winning by 10 or 12 goals means nothing if you lose the next game. There is no room for relaxation now. Chekhov are a young team, playing with determination and passion,” said Bebeshko on the eve of leaving for Russia.

The match will have a special feeling for both coaches as Maximov used to mentor Sergey Bebeshko, but Brest’s coach does not want to add too much stress to it.

Maximov regrets losing the match in Novi Sad, as he believes, Medvedi were capable of taking all points home. “The game was intense from the first until the last minute. We lost concentration and made mistakes in decisive minutes of the game,” said the Russian coach after the game in Serbia.

Both teams have met previously in Europe’s top flight competition eleven years ago, in 2004/2005, when the ‘Bears’ won both matches to progress into Last 16, but a lot has changed since then.

Brest are now more experienced in Europe and can rely on a deeper squad with two players for each position, which allows Bebeshko to vary between offence and defence. Brest may be slight favourites, but the young Chekhov team with their mastermind Maximov will be sure to push them all the way.

Vojvodina (SRB)  vs Futebol Clube do Porto (POR)
Thursday 1 October, 19:00 hrs local time, live on ehfTV

After their historic first win in the competition, Vojvodina are looking forward another adventure against seven-time Portuguese champions Porto.

About 1,500 spectators made fantastic atmosphere on Saturday in Spens Arena in Novi Sad to help Vojvodina record only their first competitive win this season against Chekhovskie Medvedi. Fans did not have to wait for long and positive reaction from the club came immediately. Free entrance to the game against Porto is a mark of the great co-operation between the club and its supporters.

However, Porto will be in no generous mood on Thursday, as they will want to bounce back after the second half blow in Logrono. Left winger Hugo Santos stresses the importance to win this clash. “We are already in a must-win situation going to Serbia. Winning points in away matches will make a huge difference.”

These two teams know each other pretty well from last season, when they met in the EHF Cup Group Phase. Porto won both matches, but with these only wins finished third in the group head of Vojvodina with zero.

“Vojvodina play handball, that is nowhere close to the handball we play in Portugal. They are a more physical team; I would compare them to Tatran Presov. We are faster and we need to build on our advantage,” the left winger for the club´s website.

Porto’s nightmare from Saturday was called Kappelin. The Swedish goalkeeper shut up shop and Porto failed to score a single goal in first nine minutes of the second half – sparking a 7:0 run which decided the game.

Porto’s coach Ricardo Costa admitted his side was tired.  Are four days enough to recover?

The Serbians have their Kappelin in the form of Luka Arsenic, just ask Chekhov! Filip Marjanovic, the best scorer of Vojvodina with 16 goals, scored 11 on Saturday, with 100% efficiency from the penalty line, and is one of the pillars of the Vojvodina attack along with Orbovic and Nikolic. 

It is difficult to choose a favourite in this one with home support and euphoria giving Vojvodina a good shot.

Naturhouse La Rioja (ESP) vs Tatran Presov (SVK)
Saturday 3 October, 16:00 hrs local time, live on ehfTV

Bottom placed Tatran Presov travel to Logrono to meet La Rioja in the group’s last game on Saturday afternoon.

Both teams are currently in opposite situations. While the Spanish side sit in second place with two points, showing positive displays in both their games, Presov have lost both by ten goals.

This is definitely an alarming situation for Rastislav Trtík and his squad, as a further loss of points can make their dream of fighting for progression a mission impossible.

Presov have lost their last three international matches, two this competition and one in the SEHA League against Vardar on Wednesday. Furthermore, all defeats were heavy losses. The Slovakian side are reeling from the absence of six injured players – all back court options. Rábek, Krok, Furlan, Ivkovič, Urban and Pogány.

However, whether missing pressure from the back court in attack is the only reason for their convincing defeats remains questionable. Trtík insists on a rare 2-4 defence, which appears to not work at the moment.

The Spaniards’ list of absences is much shorter, they will be without their injured pivot, Javier Garcia, who suffered a knee injury against Porto and will be out for six to eight weeks.

Jota Gonzalez´s men count on their Swedish star goalkeeper Richard Kappelin – their vital player made it into Best 7 last weekend as the best goalkeeper of the round as well as into top 5 saves of the weekend. So far, he is the second best goalkeeper in Spanish ASOBAL league with 46.26% save rate.

La Rioja were down by two goals at half time against Porto, should they build on their second half performance if they are to be successful. Cristian Malmagro scored 9 goals and is on joined 5th place in the top scorers list with 16 goals.

Imposing line player Alberto Val Sancho will be a tough nut to crack for Presov, however Porto showed Tatran the way in the first half last Saturday. With efficient attack, aggressive careful defence and impressive team spirit, Rastislav Trtík will definitely make a note of his prowess.

The Clear favourite in this matchup is the Spanish side. Presov, heavily hit by injuries can only surprise, but they know they need vital improvement soon.


TEXT: Tomas Cuncik / cor
 
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