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30.10.2015, 12:30
Keepers key as every point counts
«Go back »Print Version


FACE TO FACE: Two quiet but fierce goalkeepers will have a huge say in the outcome of Round 3's headline clash between HC Vardar and FC Midtjylland
 

Keepers key as every point counts

Both Sabine Englert and Amandine Leynaud have been within touching distance of the Women’s EHF Champions League trophy, but neither has yet to win it.

In 2008, Englert and Hypo Niederösterreich reached the final of the competition, but lost against Zvevda Zvenigorod. Six years later, the German 33-year-old took part in the inaugural Women’s EHF FINAL4 with FC Midtjylland, but the Danish side lost the bronze medal match against Vardar team containing Amandine Leynaud. The French international player returned to Budapest last season, but ran out of luck at the semi-final stage again against Buducnost.

Now, Leynaud and Englert will be facing each other on Sunday in what looks like another big clash in Group C.

“This is just like the group of death,” says Leynaud, whose team has so far lost against Györ and won against Hypo Niederösterreich.

“These very close teams and three participants at the 2014 FINAL4.”

Those who thought that Midtjylland would be the underdogs, were forced to think again after they beat Györ 26:21 in their own back yard last weekend.

“Nobody, not even us players, expected a result like this and it is simply stunning to travel to Skopje with four points on our account,” says Englert, who does not want to start calculating prior to the match at Vardar.

“Although Skopje lost at home against Györ, and we won at Györ, we are not the favourites for this match. But we are definitely not under pressure to win like they are.”

Leynaud hopes “we will be able to win this one, to confirm that we're improving. The loss against Györ reminded us that nothing comes easy in this competition, no matter what names you have in your team.”

Easy goals the key in defensive duel

Former German international Englert is certain that the duel in Sport Center Jane Sandanski will be decided by the defence and goalkeeping : “This is much more important than the attack,” and Leynaud agrees: "If our defence is efficient, maybe we can score some fast-breaks and make things easy for ourselves. I don't expect either team to score thirty goals to be honest so the more easy goals we can score, the closer we'll be to victory.”

The FC Midtjylland goalkeeper looks forward coming up against a fierce opponent she sees similarities in: “We are both anything but screamers; we are calm and try to support our defence with this calmness. 

“Although Amandine is not that tall, she is very strong in close-range shots, and she has the experience to hold her position for a long time before moving, which makes attackers nervous.”

Leynaud sees in Sabine a "very experienced player, who has played a lot of Champions League and knows how to remain focused even when things go wrong. She's very good on low shots, it seems like she has now become a Danish goalkeeper."

The match already has huge significance as both teams are likely to reach the main round. "Since points taken in the group matches count in the main round, you have to try to win every game," explains Leynaud, while Englert conludes: “Maybe we can cause another surprise in Skopje, but definitely we are eager to take some more points on home court against Skopje and Györ to improve our chances in the main round, where every point will count in the race to Budapest.”


TEXT: Björn Pazen, Kevin Domas / cor
 
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