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16.10.2015, 15:30
Old rivals meet in Skopje as Hypo head to Denmark
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GROUP C PREVIEW: The Women’s Champions League opening day brings a clash of the titans in Group C when Vardar lock horns with Györ while former winners Hypo face a tough visit to Midtjylland
 

Old rivals meet in Skopje as Hypo head to Denmark

The start of the Women’s Champions League could not have been more appealing to fans around Europe, as the opening round in Group C has pitted HC Vardar against Györi Audi ETO KC in what is likely to be an explosive contest in Skopje.

Once mighty Hypo now has a youthful team facing a stern test when they visit battle-hardened FC Midtjylland, back in the continent’s top flight after missing out last season.  

GROUP C

HC Vardar (MKD) vs Györi Audi ETO KC (HUN)
Saturday, 17 October, 20:15 hrs local time, live on ehfTV

With fans in Skopje packing the Jane Sandanski Arena for Vardar’s home games in the VELUX EHF Champions League, their joy will now be doubled as the women’s outfit takes centre stage in one of Europe’s
handball temples.

Györ, winners in 2013 and 2014, may not be the envy of Europe that they were during those two glorious seasons, but still have a roster strong enough to stand their ground against any opposition on their day.

And there is little doubt they will be out to avenge last season’s painful quarter-final elimination at the hands of Vardar, whose already impressive squad has been boosted by the arrival of prolific Serb left back Sanja Damnjanovic and Croatia’s Andrea Covic.

Club manager Ana Mihajlovska “expect(s) good performances because we now have a two years’ experience at the highest level and an almost unchanged team,” she added.

Having lost the Hungarian title to traditional rivals FTC Rail Cargo Hungaria, Györ had to come through a qualifying tournament and did so by blowing away Serbian side Radnicki Kragujevac 42:13 before overcoming Norway’s Glassverket 30:21 to qualify.

With many of their stalwarts gone in the past two seasons, Györ will head into this term’s campaign aware that they are no longer the clear favourites.

With both sides nurturing as style based on ironclad defence and swift counter-attacks, fans should expect a ferocious battle likely to keep them on the edge of their seats throughout.
 
FC Midtjylland (DEN) vs Hypo Niederostereich (AUT)
Sunday, 18 October, 15:10 hrs local time, live on ehfTV

Bowing out of the Champions League in the qualifying tournaments last season after reaching the FINAL4 in 2013 must have been a huge shock for Midtjylland, who now have the task of getting their campaign back on track.

Their opening match is against a rival of immense stature which belies the fact that the current Hypo outfit has little experience at the highest level.

With all their Brazilian imports gone to greener pastures, the Austrian side now comprises a vast majority of home-grown players bolstered by only a handful of foreigners.

Midtjylland too will feel the departure of their top players Nycke Groot, Ida Alstad and Line Jorgensen but the Danish champions should still have too much firepower for Hypo after the arrival of Louise Burgaard, with the club’s sights set on reaching the Main Round.

“All our fans, players and sponsors are excited to be part of it and we will try to stay in the competition for as long as possible,” said the club’s manager Hans Peter Riis.

This means Midtjylland are well aware that Vardar and Györ, are favourites for a top-two finish.

The third-placed side also qualifies for the Main Round, where two pools of six teams each will produce the last eight heading into the knockout stages.


TEXT: Zoran Milosavljevic / bc
 
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