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03.12.2015, 17:17
Crucial duel in Poland, top match in Kiel
«Go back »Print Version


GROUP A PREVIEW: Veszprem can make a huge step towards winning the group, while the winner of Plock vs Zagreb makes a big step towards the Last 16

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

Crucial duel in Poland, top match in Kiel

As Veszprem, PSG and Flensburg have already booked their tickets for the knock-out stage, the direct duel of two hunters is in the focus in Round 10 of Group A.

If Zagreb take their second away win at Plock, it is nearly Merry Christmas for Veselin Vujovic & Co in their last VELUX EHF Champions League match in 2015.

In the MOTW, Veszprem have a tough battle ahead to defend their top position at Kiel, while PSG and Flensburg are favourites in their matches.

Orlen Wisla Plock (POL) vs HC Prvo plinarsko drustvo Zagreb (CRO)
Saturday 5 December, 20:30 hrs local time, live on ehfTV.com

The winner of this crucial duel will make a huge step towards the Last16. In case of a win, Zagreb can consolidate the fifth position and increase the gap to the Polish runners-up to decisive three points, while Plock can pass the Croats, currently being below by one point.

After breaking the home curse against Besiktas (their first win this season on home ground) and a strong performance at Flensburg, Plock are eager to take revenge for the 25:29 defeat at Zagreb.

On the other hand, the Croatian champions are hit hard by injuries like Luka Stepancic, Stipe Mandalinic, Domagoj Pavlovic, Josip Sandrk, but managed to beat Istanbul on home ground in the previous round.

But the statistic speaks for Zagreb, who won all three previous encounters against Plock.

Both sides have their fate in their hands, as both still face Celje in 2016, but Zagreb have the tougher upcoming schedule.

MOTW: THW Kiel (GER) vs MVM Veszprém (HUN)
Sunday 6 December, 14:15 hrs local time, live on ehfTV.com

If the ehfTV.com Match of the Week would be simple mathematics, THW would be without any chance as they were beaten twice by PSG (26:30, 30:37), while Veszprem downed Paris last Saturday 28:20.

But after three Champions League matches without a win, Kiel are hungry to turn the tide - despite knowing that it is nearly impossible to top this group in the end.

Currently they are six points below Veszprem - so another win of the Hungarian record champions like in the first leg (29:27) would definitely end Kiel’s chance to skip the Last16 and qualify directly for the quarter-finals.

The head-to-head stats of those two powerhouses of European club handball is equal by six wins each - but the last ones were taken by Veszprem, like in the 2015 semi-final of the VELUX EHF FINAL4.

Three former Kiel players - Momir Ilic, Aron Palmarsson and Christian Zeitz - are in Veszprem’s squad, while Marko Vujin took the opposite way.

The duel of the Serbian shooters Ilic (who netted in ten times against Paris) and Vujin is one crucial duel, while the goalkeeper’s duel Niklas Landin vs Roland Mikler/Mirko Alilovic the other one.

The stats are less optimistic for Veszprem: Since 2004 they did not win any Champions League match on German ground (except FINAL4 tournaments), never before, they won at Kiel, though they had been highly close in the 2012/13 quarter-final.

Kiel definitely will end up with the worst group phase balance since the implementation of the current playing system, having already four defeats on their account.

Kiel’s last big win against Veszprem was the 2014 VELUX EHF FINAL4 semi-final.

If the team of Xavier Sabate take both points, they remain on top of Group A, but still have the maybe even harder away match at Flensburg ahead.

THW centre back Domagoj Duvnjak will not be eligible to play after the Court of Handball has suspended him following his direct disqualification in the previous match in Celje.

Paris Saint-Germain Handball (FRA) vs RK Celje Pivovarna Lasko (SLO)
Sunday, 17:00 hrs. local time, live on ehfTV.com

How can PSG cope with the 20:28 demolition at Veszprem last Saturday?

This is the main question prior to this duel, in which the roles are supposed to be clearly set: On the one hand, the World Class Selection from the French capital, on the other the young guns from Slovenia.

But Celje managed to cause an upset against Kiel last round, and unluckily gave their first home win from their hands to finally tie by 23:23. This performance will definitely boost the confidence of the Tamse team.

After eight straight wins, PSG were brought down to the floor by Veszprem, lost their top position in this group and had to realise that their top stars Mikkel Hansen and Nikola Karabatic were below par.

But on home court, the team of former Celje coach Noka Serdarusic is the favourite and not only because they already won the away match at Celje 32:30 - which was a hard-earned first win against this opponent.

The Slovenian record champions are still four points below the sixth position, which grants the participation in the Last16, so the chance to proceed seem quite limited

Besiktas Jimnastik Kulubu (TUR) vs SG Flensburg-Handewitt (GER)
Sunday 6 December 20:30 hrs local time, live on ehfTV.com

After 16 straight wins in all competitions including six in the VELUX EHF Champions League, Flensburg were defeated on Wednesday in Germany’s top duel - at home by Rhein Neckar Löwen (25:32).

But despite this defeat, the team of coach Ljubomir Vranjes travels heads held high to Turkey. Another win would bring SG (currently second ranked) closer to a top position, after they had already secured the ticket to the knock-out stage.

Still facing Paris and Veszprem, they even can hope for finishing on top.

On the other hand, Besiktas are on the bottom still at two points only, and the chance to proceed is only mathematical.

Flensburg have won all previous matches against the Turkish champions including the 33:25 in the first leg and know that a key to another success is to stop the strong back court axis with Ramazan Döne and Nemanja Pribak and wing Darko Djukic.


TEXT: Björn Pazen / br
 
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