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03.10.2017, 12:20
Velenje looking for fourth straight win
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MIDWEEK PREVIEW: Kadetten face two season-shaping matches, while Chekhovskie Medvedi are struggling to end their worst skid ever in the VELUX EHF Champions League
 

Velenje looking for fourth straight win

After three rounds, the rankings are starting to settle and the big favourites for progressing to the next round are shaping up.

One of the four teams to have three wins out of three games, Gorenje Velenje, have the chance to build on their ruthless play and earn another win at the hands of Kadetten Schaffhausen, in the 90th VELUX EHF Champions League game for the Swiss side.

On the other hand, Sporting could hand Chehovskie their fourth loss this season and their seventh in a row, as the young Bears are looking out of their depth in this year’s competition.

  • Velenje are the surprise package of the group with a young team

  • Kadetten are two points behind Skjern and four behind Velenje

  • Having featured 16 times out of the last 17 seasons, Chekhov are on the brink of an early elimination this time

GROUP C

Kadetten Schaffhausen (SUI) vs RK Gorenje Velenje (SLO)
Thursday, 20:15 hrs local time, live on ehfTV.com

Every team are brushing up their math before the start of a game in the VELUX EHF Champions League. For Kadetten Schaffhausen it does not look any prettier on a game-by-game basis.

The Swiss side could find themselves in a big hole if they do not win against Velenje, a team that could go six points clear ahead of Kadetten if they win on Thursday.

The hosts will have had a whole week to digest the painful defeat inflicted by Dinamo last Wednesday, when Sajad Esteki found a gap in the Swiss wall and granted the Romanian champions their first win with a nine-metre throw in the last second of the game.

But Kadetten host one of the four teams with a 100% win record this season, alongside powerhouses like Veszprém, title holders Vardar and Montpellier.

It may be that the Slovenian side’s goal difference only stands at +4 goals, but they emphatically brushed aside Leon, Skjern and Dinamo, impressing with their strength and unity all along.

“We dictated the tempo in all of our three games and I am impressed by that. Now, we need to prepare and train like we did before all of these games, because we have a good chance and the game against Kadetten comes only four days after a tough win against Skjern,” said Velenje coach Zeljko Babic.

It will be Kadetten’s 90th game in the competition and only a win would help the Swiss side’s dream to progress to the next round.

With an important home game against Skjern coming next week Thursday, this week will surely shape up Kadetten’s European season as the Swiss side could find their objective out of reach if not for two wins.

GROUP D

Sporting CP (POR) vs Chekhovskie Medvedi (RUS)
Wednesday, 20:00 hrs local time, live on ehfTV.com

The only team in Groups C and D to have lost all three matches, Chehovskie Medvedi, have a last chance for redemption in Portugal.

The Russian champions have lost their first games by an average of 6.3 goals per game. They are currently in the middle of a six-game losing streak, passing their worst mark in history when they lost five times in a row, a feat that happened three times to them – in 2001, 2014 and 2015.

It will be Chekhovskie’s 150th game in the competition, therefore Vladimir Maximov’s team, the second youngest in the VELUX EHF Champions League this season, will be motivated to break the hapless streak.

However, the hosts have impressed in their comeback in the European premium competition, earning a spectacular win in the first game against Besiktas, while their last game have been a tight 28:27 loss to Metalurg.

It will be only the 10th game for Sporting in the European top competition, as the Lions are looking to stay in the hunt for the top places, which could bring the first play-off berth for a Portuguese side.

“The game will be tough, as Chehovskie had a full week to prepare for this, while we had to play in the domestic league. But I am not creating excuses, we have to go out there, give it our all and win,” said Sporting left wing Ivan Nikcevic, who has scored 14 times this season.

Sporting’s most experienced player, Carlos Ruesga, is still struggling with his fitness level and will likely get only a reduced amount of minutes by Lions’ coach Lars Walther.

But Sporting will have to dig deep and find their rhythm as they are nursing a tough 26:23 loss last Saturday in the derby against FC Porto, one of their biggest domestic rivals.


TEXT: Adrian Costeiu / ew
 
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