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20.04.2016, 15:30
Veszprem hold top spot ahead of the final stretch
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POWER RANKING: Hungarian champions lead the last power rankings before the quarter-finals, followed by Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona.

»EHF CL Channel »2015-16 Men's CL
»Quarter Final
»
 

Veszprem hold top spot ahead of the final stretch

The VELUX Champions League quarter-finals about to begin and with that comes the time to consider which sides are approaching these crucial matches in the best form.

Discover what ehfCL.com journalists Björn Pazen, Peter Bruun, Bence Martha, Nemanja Savic, Kevin Domas, Sergey Nikolaev and Magda Pluszewska together with ehfTV commentator Tom O’Brannagain think about your favourite teams right now in the latest power ranking.

"There is a good chance that this year the four best teams will make it to Cologne. A VELUX EHF FINAL4 with Barcelona, PSG, Veszprém and Flensburg/Kielce would be the best ever," says Hungarian correspondent Bence Martha.

8. HC PPD Zagreb

The Croatian side were not very consistent in the group phase. However, they created a surprise in the Last 16 by eliminating Germany's Rhein Neckar Lowen in a thrilling two-legged fight.

Paris Saint-Germain should not underestimate their opponents in the quarter-final, yet they are obviously favourites in this duel. The youthful Zagreb will give it their all but should find it very hard to overcome the French obstacle, even with their new-look kit.

7. THW Kiel

Last season's FINAL4 participants faced a lot of problems throughout their European season, but thanks to a brilliant performance by goalkeeper Niklas Landin they managed to beat Hungary's Szeged in the Last 16.

Now Kiel face their old rivals FC Barcelona Lassa and the going will certainly be tough against the current title holder. Sunday’s first leg is the ehfTV Match of the Week.

6. HC Vardar

After finishing third in Group B, the Macedonian side secured their third consecutive VELUX Champions League Quarter-final berth by narrowly beating Poland's Orlen Wisla Plock. Now tougher opposition awaits in the form of MVM Veszprem.

"I rate both Zagreb and Vardar highly this season, especially in the knockout stages. However, if only they could have avoided their worst nemesis — PSG and Veszprem, I would have given them a more serious chance of reaching their maiden FINAL4," sums up Balkan expert Nemanja Savic.

5. Vive Tauron Kielce

In the Last 16, the team coached by Talant Dujshebaev beat Belarusian champions HC Meshkov Brest to earn a quarter-final tie against SG Flensburg-Handewitt, one of the most unpredictable pairings at this stage.

Polish correspondent Magda Pluszewska had her say: "Maybe all the technical aspects favour the German team a little bit, but we have often seen in sport that it is team spirit that decides when skills are comparable. No doubt this factor is a big plus for Kielce."

4. SG Flensburg-Handewitt

The German side took second place in our power ranking before the Last 16, but slipped to fourth position after two narrow victories against Montpellier.

Flensburg qualified for the Champions League quarter-final for the tenth time in their history and now are going for a place in the VELUX EHF FINAL4 which, as usual, will be held in their home country.

The event in Cologne has until now always featured a German team and the ranking suggests that Flensburg will be relied upon to keep that run going in 2016.

3. FC Barcelona Lassa

In the two previous seasons, teams defending their VELUX Champions League titles were eliminated already in the Last 16: Hamburg in 2013/14 season and Flensburg one year ago.

But this time, Barcelona automatically qualified to the quarter-finals as the winners of Group B. Xavi Pascual and his players definitely hope that qualifying for the Cologne will be the next step, but traditional rivals THW Kiel will be far from an easy opponent.

2. Paris Saint-Germain Handball

Just like Barcelona, PSG directly qualified for the quarter-final after winning Group A. The French outfit showed an impressive stability, and Mikkel Hansen is still the top scorer of the competition with 107 goals.

Last weekend they were crowned French champions for the third time with five matches to spare, so now they can focus on their European campaign. PSG had beaten Zagreb twice in the group phase and will fancy their chances of doing it again and finally progressing past this stage.

1. MVM Veszprem

The Hungarian side were the first in our previous power ranking and have retained the leading position. Veszprem's confident performance in the Last 16 certainly helped, as they beat Motor Zaporozhye without any great difficulty.

In early April, the team won the SEHA League for the second year in a row, beating Vardar in the final, which will give them plenty of confidence heading into the quarter-finals against the side from Skopje.


TEXT: Sergey Nikolaev / cor
 
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