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30.10.2015, 14:30
Three-way tussle for top spot continues
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GROUP C PREVIEW: Macedonian giants HC Vardar entertain Denmark’s FC Midtjylland in a highly anticipated Group C clash while Györi Audi ETO KC visit Hypo Niederösterreich
 

Three-way tussle for top spot continues

The fiercely competitive Group C of the Women’s EHF Champions League resumes with an exciting match-up in Skopje, where HC Vardar will aim to end FC Midtjylland’s perfect start.

Györi Audi ETO KC are away to the section’s bottom team Hypo Niederösterreich in a battle of former champions, but the visitors from Hungary are strong favourites to come out on top.

GROUP C

Hypo Niederösterreich (AUT) vs Györi Audi ETO KC (HUN)
Saturday 31 October, 20:25 hrs local time, live on ehfTV

A match featuring two former winners of Europe’s premier club competition usually implies a clash of the titans, but the contest between Hypo and Györ is expected to be little more than a routine win for the visitors.

Having won four EHF Champions League titles, the most recent coming in 2000, Hypo are at the start of a rebuilding stage and therefore a learning process against some of the continent’s top clubs.

Györ, who are also going through transition after lifting the coveted trophy in 2013 and 2014, made a patchy start this term and need an emphatic win in Austria in order to stay in contention for the group’s top spot.

After stinging group favourites Vardar 27:22 away in an impressive opener, Györ suffered a shock 26:21 home defeat by FC Midtjylland last week and bouncing back from it will be the only thing on their minds when they visit Hypo.

The Austrian side have two defeats from as many games but their fighting spirit has so far been commendable.

Györ warmed up for the clash with a resounding 34:17 Hungarian league win over Debrecen which left their Spanish coach Ambros Martin purring with delight.

“I have a feeling the team came out stronger from the Midtjylland defeat and I am also confident the upcoming matches will show our strength and potential,” he told the club’s official website.

Their Dutch star Yvette Broch was also pleased. “We made a step forward and it was one we desperately needed because we have some tough matches ahead.”

HC Vardar (MKD) vs FC Midtjylland (DEN)
Sunday 1 November, 15:15 hrs local time, live on ehfTV

Few fans and pundits expected Midtjylland to top the Group C standings after two rounds, but the Danish side have taken the section by storm with a pair of blistering performances against Györ and Hypo Niederosterreich.

Hence, they will travel to Skopje brimming with confidence, while Vardar head into clash under pressure to deliver after a painful opening defeat by Gyor in their Jane Sandanski Arena.

There is little doubt that the home crowd will create a raucous atmosphere, but the Danish champions are unlikely to be rattled as they dealt with the same issue effortlessly in their 26:21 whitewash of Györ last week.

Vardar restored some of their composure with a comfortable 38:25 away win over Hypo last week, but their opening two displays have left something to be desired.

If they are to overcome Midtjylland, the Macedonian champions will need to show more defensive steel and creativity in attack than they did against Györ, when they looked porous at the back and bereft of ideas up front.

Croatian left back Andrea Penezic, who netted a whopping 102 Champions League goals for Vardar last season, scored a modest seven in the opening two games this term, and is one of the key players needing to improve.

“I know many people see us as the favourites to win the Champions League this season, which is our ambition of course, but the competition is stronger than ever,” Penezic told the club’s website in the build-up to the clash with Midtjylland.

“The competition is fierce, there are quite a few clubs who have made heavy investments and signed outstanding players.”

Midtjylland, who lost three key players during the summer break, landed one such reinforcement in Louise Burgaard, who was in effervescent form.

The Danish side will head into the clash with their confidence further boosted by 27:25 domestic league win at Sonderjyske, keeping them level with leaders Esbjerg on 14 points from eight games.


TEXT: Zoran Milosavljevic / cor
 
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