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18.11.2015, 16:30
Iberian clash at the top of Group C
«Go back »Print Version


GROUP C PREVIEW: Porto and La Rioja set for key encounter in the chase for a place in the top two

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

Iberian clash at the top of Group C

The tight race for the play-off phase of the VELUX EHF Champions League is heating up as Porto meet La Rioja in a crucial battle for points. In-form Presov travel to Brest to face Meshkov on Saturday, as they want to continue their current winning streak. Chekhovskie Medvedi open the show in Group C on Thursday hoping to keep their chances progression alive.

GROUP C
Chekhovskie Medvedi (RUS) vs Vojvodina (SRB)
Thursday 19 November 19:00 hrs local time, liveon ehfTV

The first match of the Group C programme will be played on Thursday evening in Russia. Medvedi will host Vojvodina, newcomers to the VELUX EHF Champions League.

Both teams have only a theoretical chance of progression from the group and therefore can fully concentrate on their performance and gaining experience.

An experience is certainly needed. Medvedi played an excellent match in Logrono before losing it in the final minutes with a number of errors.

Vojvodina are on a three-game winless streak, but their campaign so far is far from tragic. They have proven to be a solid young European side, full of enthusiasm on and off the court, especially at home. On the road they have lost heavily twice and surprised in Presov.

You can find little consistency in their performance. Filip Marjanovic, Serbian winger and top scorer will lead the team in Chekhov, just like he did at home, with a significant input of 11 goals.

A special match awaits Vojvodina’s Pavel Rastvortsev, who spent most of his career with Medvedi. One of the more experienced players in Nicola Markovic’s team.

Medvedi, on the other side played an excellent game in La Rioja in what a local Spanish newspaper described as the: “most interesting game of the season” for the Spanish side.

Legendary coach Vladimir Maximov must have been pleased with the performance of Chernoivanov in defence. He will have Alexander Kotov at his disposal after serving ban in Spain.

Expect a dominating performance from the Bears, who are favourites at home in a match of two young teams.

Futebol Clube do Porto (POR) vs Naturhouse La Rioja (ESP)
Saturday 21 November 18:00 hrs local time, live on ehfTV

One of the highlights of the group will be played on Saturday evening in Porto. Dragons welcome leaders of the group Naturhouse La Rioja in the Iberian derby.

Both teams are strong candidates to fight for the next round and whilst the odds may be in favour of the Portuguese side, who have won all their home fixtures, La Rioja travel to Portugal in perfect form, losing only one of their seventeen competitive matches this season.

Gilberto Duarte gave Porto so much in their important win at Presov, beating Slovakians three seconds before the end. He was the top scorer with five goals in Logrono, La Rioja winning the first match comfortably by seven goals.

It will be interesting to see whether Miguel Angel Velasco, assistant coach at La Rioja will play again important role, as he turned to stabilise team´s performance against Medvedi.

La Rioja need to learn the lesson, as they were saved number of times by Swedish Richard Kappelin in previous game.

Their wing play and pressure from the back will be vital. Two similar styles will meet and it will be interesting how both coaches will react to this.

La Rioja are struggling with injuries as Pablo Cacheda and Alberto Rocas are recovering from their injuries. There is less stress about injury woes in Porto, although they have not been as convincing lately as they showed signs of a slip in concentration against Presov and Passos Manuel in the domestic championship.

Swedish duo Richard Kappelin and Philip Stenmalm played a vital role in La Rioja’s win against Medvedi, together with always delivering Cristian Malmagro, who is slowly climbing up the ladder in top scorers table.

Meshkov Brest (BLR) vs Tatran Presov (SVK)
Saturday 21 November 18:00 hrs local time, live on ehfTV

Presov may have won only one game in the group, but you would not want to face them recently. Leaders of the regional SEHA League travel to Belarus to test one of the Last 16 contendersMeshkov Brest.

Brest are also in fine form, winning their last six encounters in all competitions.

Presov won in Subotica against Spartak Vojput after conceding late goal against Porto and despite the unlucky defeat showed no signs of trouble.

Sergey Bebeshko’s men are clear favourites against one of the worst attacking records in the competition.

The Belarusians won the previous meeting of those two by ten goals. Ten goals is also the figure that separates the teams’ best scorers, Serbian line player Rastko Stojkovic (44 goals) and the evergreen winger in green and white Radoslav Antl.

Sergey Bebeshko struggled with absences last time out as Pavel Atman felt food poisoning and Oleg Grams was also ill, but this time the situation looks better.

History suggests home team usually have the edge as these two meet, yet this was proven wrong in the first encounter. Interestingly both teams meet again two days later in SEHA League, where Presov is in completely different position and will defend the top spot in the league.

Can Chupryna stop fellow Tatran player Kristopans and Stojkovic from building on their goal streak or will the stars of Belarussian side point Meshkov towards the next phase?


TEXT: Toms Cuncik / cor
 
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