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13.10.2015, 20:40
Coaching encounter in the spotlight
«Go back »Print Version


GROUP A PREVIEW: Serdarusic enters familiar territory, Vujovic and Cadenas have their first of three duels and Gislason meets former players

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

Coaching encounter in the spotlight

Two 2015 VELUX EHF FINAL4 participants, Veszprem and Kiel, are set for a group phase rematch on Saturday. Besides this headline match, Round 5 of VELUX EHF Champions League Group A will offer a meeting of two national team coaches and the return of Noka Serdarusic to Celje. The round is opened by the second home match within four days for Flensburg.

SG Flensburg-Handewitt (GER) vs Besiktas Jimnastik Kulubu (TUR)
Wednesday 19:00 hrs local time, live on ehfTV

Almost exactly one year ago, Flensburg and Besiktas faced for the first time in history - in the Flens-Arena, and SG beat the Turkish champions 27:20, followed by a 31:27 away win at Istanbul.

Now they face again, only three days after their respective matches of Round 4 on Sunday, which ended in a different way: While Flensburg easily defeated Celje by 30:20 for their second home win of the season, Besiktas lost by 25:33 at Veszprem, despite a brave performance and remained on zero points.

So the roles are supposed to be set clear, with the 2014 Champions League winner as the clear favourite, mainly on home ground.

In the previous three seasons, SG only lost two of their home matches, each against the eventual VELUX EHF Champions League champions:  the quarter-final of the 2012/13 season against Hamburg and a group match of the 2014/15 season against Barcelona.

MVM Veszprém (HUN) vs THW Kiel (GER)
Saturday 15:15 hrs local time, live on ehfTV

”The original vs the remake” could be a title for the duel of two powerhouses of European club handball. Within the last three years, three THW players joined Veszprem, first two-time Champions League top scorer Momir Ilic, then three-time Champions League winner Christian Zeitz and now Icelandic mastermind and two-time Champions League winner Aron Palmarsson.

While Ilic and Palmarsson eagerly await the encounter against their former team mates, Zeitz will miss the match due to a shoulder injury.

On the other hand, Kiel are without two left wings (Klein and Jansen) and a line player (Wiencek) due to long-term injuries.

The Hungarian record champions managed to take three of an overall of five wins against THW on home court, the remaining two were on neutral ground including the fabulous 31:27 in the 2015 VELUX EHF FINAL4 semi-final in Cologne.

Apart from this crucial match, Kiel had been Veszprem’s bogey team in the past years, including the dramatic quarter-finals in the 2012/13 season, when THW won both encounters by a one-goal margin (32:31, 29:28).

But times have changed. Not only due to the home right in their fortress Veszprem are in the favourite role. Since interim coach Xavier Sabate took over, the Hungarian side won all three group matches. Veszprem are the only unbeaten team in their group, while Kiel already lost the away match at Zagreb, but then showed a rising level by beating Flensburg and the clear win at Plock.

Besides, Veszprem is a special place for THW coach Alfred Gislason: Back in 2002 he and his team SC Magdeburg built momentum for the first Champions League title of a German team with a close 21:23 defeat in the old Veszprem arena in the first leg of the finals, followed by a 30:25 home win. 

HC Prvo plinarsko drustvo Zagreb (CRO) vs Orlen Wisla Plock (POL)
Saturday 20:00 hrs local time, live on ehfTV

Zagreb will be thinking it’s time for another following their clear defeat at Paris on Sunday. The encounter against the Polish runners-up is predicted to be a crucial one in terms of the six Last 16 spots in Group A. Beating Plock would provide the Croats with a three-point cushion compared to the Poles, if Plock takes the points, they would pass Zagreb.

Both sides had matches to forget in Round 4 as Plock were overrun by Kiel and Zagreb stood little chance in Paris. After the unlucky 20:21 defeat against Veszprem two weeks ago, the myth of the secure stronghold Arena Zagreb has come to an end.

However, statistics are on Zagreb’s side, as the Croats had won both previous encounters with the Oilers in the 2008/09 season by 34:17 (on home ground) and 27:24 at Plock.

The match is a very special one for both coaches as well - as they will face again in January under different circumstances: Veselin Vujovic as the coach of the Slovenian national and Manuel Cadenas (Spain coach) are in the same preliminary round group of EHF EURO 2016. 

RK Celje Pivovarna Lasko (SLO) vs. Paris Saint-Germain Handball (FRA)
Sunday 17:00 hrs local time, live on ehfTV

The mountain seems to be unclimbable, but Celje had proved their readiness for upsets in previous seasons already by beating Kiel and Hamburg. PSG are on a roll currently, after winning the previous three group matches - the complete opposite direction of the Slovenians, who lost all three encounters after their opening win against Besiktas.

For PSG’s Montenegrin right wing Fahrudin Mehic the game is a sort of homecoming, as he had played in Slovenia before, but for Celje’s biggest domestic rivals Velenje. But even more, PSG coach Noka Serdarusic will have a special game, as he had was Celje’s coach in the 2009/10 season, parallel to his job as Slovenian national team coach.

With their snipers Mikkel Hansen (35 goals so far) and Nikola Karabatic, the French champions look like a goal factory, but also their defence stood well in the previous matches.

The only duels between these clubs were in the 1996/97 season, when Celje beat Paris twice.


TEXT: Björn Pazen / cor
 
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