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13.11.2015, 17:27
Midtjylland out to seal main round berth
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GROUP C PREVIEW: The Danish champions need to avoid a heavy defeat at Hypo in order to advance to the next round
 

Midtjylland out to seal main round berth

There is still plenty to play for in Group C as FC Midtjylland need to avoid losing at Hypo by 12 goals or more in order to book their main round berth with a match to spare, while Györi Audi ETO KC and HC Vardar will lock horns to take as many points as they can into the next stage of the competition.

GROUP C

Hypo Niederosterreich (AUT) vs FC Midtjylland (DEN)
Friday, 13 November, 20:25 hrs local time, live on ehfTV

Having suffered a crushing 25:15 home defeat by HC Vardar in the previous round, FC Midtjylland are still not mathematically assured of progressing to the main round of the Women’s EHF Champions League.

In order to seal their passage, the Danish title holders need to avoid another fiasco, a 12-goal setback against the section’s bottom team Hypo Niederösterreich.

The task should be a formality for FCM, but they will be wary after a poor display against Vardar in which their offence came to a juddering halt in the second half.

In addition, Midtjylland will be looking to boost their shaken confidence ahead of the last round in the group phase, when they meet Györi Audi ETO KC in a quest to carry as many points as they can into the next stage of Europe’s premier club competition.

Hypo, for their part, also need at least a morale-boosting performance after suffering a 37:16 rout at Györ last week.

The Austrian champions were always going to struggle in a tough group and have lost all four games, but their revamped team’s commitment has left nothing to be desired.

Whatever happens, fans should be in for an entertaining contest as both teams will be eager to impress and bounce back from adversity, with pride as well as points at stake.

Györi Audi ETO KC (HUN) vs HC Vardar (MKD)
Saturday, 14 November, 16:30 hrs local time, live on ehfTV

The clash between these two heavyweights of women’s club handball should produce another classic, much like their last three clashes which treated the audience to some spectacular action.

After knocking Györ out of last season’s quarter-finals, Vardar suffered a sound 27:22 home defeat by the Hungarian side in the opening round of this season’s campaign, raising concerns whether they had the mettle to be title contenders.

Those doubts were dispelled emphatically in the next three games which the Macedonian giants won and they were particularly impressive in last week’s 25:15 away rout of FC Midtjylland.

With both sides through to the main round, this battle will be about taking much needed points into the next stage as they may turn out to be crucial in the quest to reach the last eight.

Vardar will hope that playmaker Andrea Lekic, who endured a patchy start to the season, can reproduce the glow she showed against Midtjylland while expecting left back Andrea Penezic to keep up her devastating scoring form.

Although the pair engineered the win in Denmark along with outstanding goalkeeper Inna Suslina, it would be unfair not to credit the rest of the team for their selfless work in all departments.

Line player Anja Althaus pulled the lion’s share of the weight against Midtjylland and homegrown winger Sara Ristovska, who scored several eye-catching second half goals, showed that Vardar’s roster boasts more than just an array of highly-paid imports.

Györ, on the other hand, will be keen to avoid a second home defeat against rivals of their own size after a shock 26:21 defeat by Midtjylland before the easy double they completed against Hypo.

The two wins against the Austrian outfit might have been the perfect remedy for that setback coupled with a 29:28 loss to traditional rivals Ferencvaros, but Györ are aware that Vardar will be quite a different prospect on Saturday.

Iconic Norwegian pivot Heidi Loke, sill a handful for the opposition at both ends of the court as she approaches her 33rd birthday next month, is the Hungarian side’s top scorer with 18 goals, leading a balanced pack which works selflessly for each other.

She and left back Zsuzsanna Tomori netted seven goals each in last week’s 37:16 demolition of Hypo, with Aniko Kovacsics adding five while Eduarda Amorim Taleska and Jana Knedlikova chipped in with four each.

The evenly distributed workload in attack should again pose a threat to Vardar, who must reproduce the kind of defensive steel they displayed against FCM if they are to come out on top at one of the most difficult away courts in Europe. 


TEXT: Zoran Milosavljevic / br
 
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