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22.04.2016, 07:57
A premiere in the crucial duels
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QUARTER-FINAL PREVIEW: For the first time, Flensburg and Kielce face each other in a VELUX EHF Champions League match - and the winner makes it to Cologne.
 

A premiere in the crucial duels

It is the eleventh participation in the VELUX EHF Champions League for SG Flensburg-Handewitt and even the 13th for KS Vive Tauron Kielce, but never before have those top contenders faced each other in any Champions League match so far.

The premiere will decide whether Flensburg will make it to Cologne for the second time after 2014 (when they sensationally took the trophy) or if Kielce will have their third appearance after 2013 and 2015 (both times finishing on the third position).

SG Flensburg-Handewitt (GER) vs Vive Tauron Kielce (POL)
Saturday 23 April, 17:30 hrs. local time, live on ehfTV

Talant Dujshebaev has a dream. To face his son Alex (HC Vardar) at the VELUX EHF FINAL4 once. This season, the family reunion can happen, but both Dujshebaevs have high quarter-final hurdles ahead. While Alex faces 2015 finalist MVM Veszprém, Talant duel with Flensburg.

"He is a tactical mastermind," praises Flensburg’s right wing Lasse Svan Dujshebaev, who won the EHF Champions League three times as the coach of BM Ciudad Real. But Svan is confident that his side is not chanceless, mainly in the first leg on home ground: "Our fans need to put big pressure on Kielce and we mainly need to be aware of their back court shooters."

Flensburg expect a 50:50 chance to make it to Cologne again. "We will see extremely equal matches," says team captain Tobias Karlsson. "In my opinion, seven of eight teams - except Zagreb - can win the Champions League and three of them will even miss the final tournament."

Both sides had no major problems in their Last 16 matches, when Flensburg (third ranked after the group phase) eliminated Montpellier HB, and Kielce (second ranked) defeated HC Meshkov Brest.

Both sides can more or less count on their strongest squads, in contrast to the previous season, when Flensburg were knocked out by Kiel as they had enormous injury problems. Even line player Anders Zachariassen will be back in Flensburg’s roster after a seven month break (torn ACT).

In their preparation for this crucial duel, Kielce had no problems beating Kwidzyn in the semi-finals of the Polish league play-offs. Flensburg are still in the race for the Bundesliga title and qualified for the German Cup semi-final against Rhein-Neckar Löwen, which is played only three days after the VELUX EHF Champions League rematch in Kielce.

For SG coach Ljubomir Vranjes, Kielce are supposed to be the stronger team: "We are not the favourites, but we have shown some outstanding matches during this season, which makes me hope that it might be enough to reach the FINAL4. We want to tease Kielce a bit."

Flensburg were defeated only once on home ground during this VELUX EHF Champions League season, by Veszprém (28:29). They have shown mainly two impressive results, beating Paris Saint-Germain 39:32 and Kiel 37:27.

On the other hand, Kielce were the only team to win at Barcelona’s Palau Blaugrana this season (33:31). Their last appearance on German ground ended by a 32:32 draw at Rhein-Neckar Löwen in the initial period of the group phase.

Two of the last three times, Kielce were in aggregate beaten in knock-out stage matches prior to the VELUX EHF FINAL4 were against German teams, both in the Last 16: 2014 by Löwen and 2010 by Hamburg.


TEXT: Björn Pazen / es
 
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