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25.09.2017, 17:30
Five takeaways from Round 2
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TALKING POINTS: The VELUX EHF Champions League Group Phase has gotten off on full steam and Round 2 included the return of the king and the absence of another. Here are the main topics

»EHF CL Channel »2017-18 Men's CL
»Group Phase
»
 

Five takeaways from Round 2

After Round 2 of the VELUX EHF Champions League Group Phase we have already seen tight matches, brilliant goals and fantastic saves. Last season's top goal scoring performance was equalled this round and there was a focus on the ones that returned home.

But it were mainly the coaches catching the headlines, both the ones who were there and the one who was missing.

Let‘s take a look at five takeaways from the weekend.

Vranjes faced his old kingdom

The biggest story of the round was SG Flensburg-Handewitt coming up against their former king on the sideline, Ljubomir Vranjes, whose new kingdom is Telekom Veszprém HC in Hungary.

It was the first time since 2006 the Swede was on the opposite bench in a Flensburg match, where Maik Machulla was up against his mentor. That was a recipe for a great match.

Flensburg was four goals in front for the last quarter of the game but Vranjes showed his tactical strength. A narrow victory for Veszprém, 28:27, means that Vranjes has his boys with full house in Group B after two rounds.

And Vranjes summed up the victory with his former trainee on his right-hand side:

 

 

It was homecoming weekend

But Vranjes’s clash against Flensburg was surely not the only match in this round where someone faced his ex.

Jorge Maqueda faced his former club HBC Nantes with the current champions HC Vardar, and he came out on top 27:23 although he kept quiet on the score-sheet. On the other end, Kiril Lazarov was returning to his home soil for the first time with Nantes but, like Maqueda, he could count on his teammates to deliver the goals.

There was also a familiar face in Zagreb when goalkeeper Marin Sego returned against his former club, HC PPD Zagreb. Now with Hungarian giants Pick Szeged, Sego and his team dominated the match and the five-goal victory (28:23) was never in danger.

Kiel missed mastermind Gislason

There are a few clear masterminds in handball and Alfred Gislason, THW Kiel’s coach, surely is one of them. Just his presence can do a lot, and on the other hand his absence can have negative effects.

That must be something that the German fans want to comfort themselves with after a massive loss against Kielce in Poland, 32:21. Gislason was not able to travel with the team and stand on the sideline after urgent back surgery. Although having prepared his team as well as possible, he was not able to put the final touches himself.

The result is the biggest win for the Polish champions against Kiel and the 2016 Champions League winners have now not lost in the last six games against the three-time Champions League winners from Germany. Although they won’t speak of it as a crisis, Kiel are having difficulties filling the gaps.

With Gislason out, Christian Sprenger and Domagoj Duvnjak had to plot before the game:

 

 

Mlakar equalised last year’s top scorer

We are only after the second round in the group phase but we have already equalised the top scorer in a single match from last season.

Zike Mlakar scored impressive 14 goals for RK Celje Lasko against Aalborg Handbold in Denmark in Group B. On top of that, he got himself 24 shots on goal but that was not enough for the Slovenian visitors and Aalborg cruised to victory, 32:30.

Mlakar followed in the footsteps of Sajjad Esteki, who netted 14 goals for Dinamo Bucuresti against ABC/UMinho from Portugal last season. However, Esteki’s game earned the Romanians the two points. Mlakar is the top scorer so far this season with 22 goals after the first two games.

Pure magic in Paris

And finally, let’s look at the magic from Paris this weekend. The French giants are on top of Group B alongside Veszprém after an impressive victory against HC Meshkov Brest, 32:28.

And it was not only the two points that were worth noticing, but just how they got them. Pure magic on the handball court, well deserved to be watched again and again.

This will get your week going.


TEXT: Andri Yrkill Valsson / ew
 
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