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10.11.2017, 11:30
Top two teams clash in Groups A, B and C
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ROUND PREVIEW: With six main round berths still up for the grabs, Round 5 of the Women's EHF Champions League will see some of the highest-ranked teams go head to head this weekend
 

Top two teams clash in Groups A, B and C

With two rounds of games to go, half of the berths in the Women’s EHF Champions League Main Round are already occupied. CSM, Krim, Györ, Midtjylland, Vardar and FTC have all secured their promotion.

The teams occupying the top-two places in Groups A, B and C will face each other, while other games could send several more clubs through to the next round.

  • Six teams have already qualified for the main round

  • Vardar are the only side with the maximum eight points

  • No team have been left without a chance to progress

  • THC’s Iveta Luzumova is leading scorer with 37 goals

GROUP A

RK Krim Merkator (SLO) vs CSM Bucuresti (ROM)
Saturday 11 November, 15:00 hrs local time, live on ehfTV.com

The start of the current European campaign was unfortunate for Krim as they lost in Bucharest by as many as 12 goals (30:18).

But now, before the second clash of these rivals, they are level on points and have both secured a spot in the main round.

Saturday’s match in Ljubljana is still important as those points will be carried over to the next stage.

Following the opening defeat in Romania, Krim went on to beat NFH and they grabbed the maximum of points in the two matches against the group outsiders, Gdynia.

CSM also won against the Polish side away from home, but then they surprisingly lost to NFH, which questioned their favourites’ status in the group.

Yet in the return game, the Romanian outfit got a convincing revenge (39:26), recording the club’s biggest victory in the Champions League.

The 39 goals scored were also a new club record in the tournament, so CSM are full of confidence prior to their voyage to Slovenia.

Other Group A match:
Vistal Gdynia (POL) vs NFH-Nykobing Falster Handboldklub (DEN)
Friday 10 November, 19:00 hrs local time, live on ehfTV.com

GROUP B

FC Midtjylland (DEN) vs Györi Audi ETO KC (HUN)
Saturday 11 November, 15:30 local time, live on ehfTV.com

The 100th game in the European top flight was quite successful for Midtjylland as the Danish side dominated throughout the whole match against Brest. No wonder that they earned their third victory in a row and secured a spot in the main round.

Veronica Kristiansen was Midtjylland's lethal weapon in that game as she netted 12 times. Overall, the 27-year-old Norwegian is the team’s top scorer in the competition with 27 goals.

So Györ's defence should find a remedy against Kristiansen, what they actually did in the opening group game when ‘Vikki’ found the net just three times.

The current title holders emphatically won that first game 27:16, yet the return is expected to get closer as Midtjylland are strong on their home court in Ikast.

Also, Györ are not yet in their best shape, at least they did not show their full strength against Rostov. Yet following a narrow defeat in Russia, the Hungarian side got revenge in a home thriller, and they are on top of Group B with six points.

Other Group B match:
Brest Bretagne Handball (FRA) vs Rostov-Don (RUS)
Saturday 11 November, 15:00 hrs local time, live on ehfTV.com

GROUP C

FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria (HUN) vs HC Vardar (MKD)
Saturday 11 November, 13:30 hrs local time, live on ehfTV.com

Having lost the opening group match against Vardar (34:31), FTC went on to claim three consecutive wins. Following a home victory against THC last Saturday, the Hungarian side secured a spot in the main round.

With 125 goals scored in four matches, they boast the best attack in the whole tournament - together with CSM. However, the team’s defence looks vulnerable as only the outsiders Gdynia and Larvik conceded more goals than FTC.

Lack of defensive quality may become a problem against Vardar, who are the only team in the league to boast a 100% record after four games. The Macedonian side have scored just one goal less than FTC (124), and their class and consistency make them one of the competition’s favourites.

However, last week Vardar showed some signs of complacency against last-placed Larvik, and they struggled before ultimately clinching a victory.

“We must be fully focused in every match and play at our maximum against each opponent. Now we have to show it against FTC,” Vardar head coach Irina Dibirova said.

Other Group C match:
Thüringer HC (GER) vs Larvik (NOR)
Sunday 12 November, 14:00 hrs local time, live on ehfTV.com

GROUP D

SG BBM Bietigheim (GER) vs Buducnost (MNE)
Sunday 12 November, 19:00 hrs local time, live on ehfTV.com

Nothing has been decided in Group D with no team being guaranteed of a spot in the main round yet. Even leaders Metz with six points could, at least mathematically, still be eliminated after the group matches.

The French side are being chased by Bietigheim and Buducnost, whose Sunday encounter may clear things up as both rivals are currently level on four points.

On home court, Bietigheim hope to take revenge for a bitter defeat in Podgorica in the opening round of games (32:24). After a slow start in the tournament, the German side have improved their position by beating Vipers twice, and they look forward to continuing this good run.

Buducnost are lacking consistency, which is hardly surprising given the fact that the Montenegrin team have been strongly rejuvenated before the season.

However, their victory against Metz last Saturday was quite impressive, and it certainly boosted the team's chances to go through.

So far, Buducnost have claimed all their points in Podgorica, but coach Dragan Adzic hopes that the team can improve away from home.

“We know who we play against and how hard it will be in Germany, but we will do our best, and our obligation is to show a better game than in the two previous away matches,” he says.

Other Group D match:
Vipers Kristiansand (NOR) vs Metz Handball (FRA)
Friday 10 November, 19:30 hrs local time, live on ehfTV.com


TEXT: Sergey Nikolaev / ew
 
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