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25.01.2018, 17:20
Heavyweights clash as main round starts
«Go back »Print Version


ROUND 1 PREVIEW: The Women's EHF Champions League resumes this weekend with the start of the main round, highlighted by the match between CSM and Györ on Friday

»EHF CL Channel »2017-18 Women's CL
»Main Round
»
 

Heavyweights clash as main round starts

The Women’s EHF Champions League is back from a two-month break. The main round gets underway this weekend - with a more than fitting opener.

The two most recent title holders go head to head in Group 1 when CSM host Györ in Bucharest on Friday.

  • CSM have scored the most goals, Györ conceded the least so far this season

  • Nykøbing and Rostov face each other for the first time

  • Hosting Metz, Vardar aim to extend their six-match winning run

  • THC and Bietigheim play each other in an all-German clash

GROUP 1

CSM Bucuresti vs Györi Audi ETO KC
Friday 26 January, 20:30 hrs local time, live on ehfTV.com

Last season, CSM and Györ crossed their paths in the group matches with the Hungarian team winning twice and ultimately succeeding Bucuresti as the trophy winners.

The Romanian side have never beaten Györ on home court. Losing twice may put pressure on them.

"We will try to break the ice on Friday. It's an important match, but we have studied our opponent and we are prepared. I hope we can beat them," CSM coach Helle Thomsen said.

Earlier this season, the big guns won their groups and took six points each to the main round, so now they are level on top of Group 1. CSM have the better goal difference; the Romanian champions have been the best scoring team so far in the competition.

CSM warmed up with a 35:13 win over AHCM Slobozia in the domestic league this week.

The current title holders are also determined to claim another victory in Bucharest, which will make them sole leaders of the group. While their Romanian opponents have a prolific attack, Györ boast a rock-solid defence, which has been the best in the tournament so far.

NFH-Nykøbing Falster Håndboldklub (DEN) vs Rostov-Don (RUS)
Sunday 28 January, 15:20 hrs local time, live on ehfTV.com

The two teams have never faced each other in an EHF club competition before, and their first clash promises to be exciting.

NFH play their maiden season in the continental top flight, yet the ambitious Danish side do not feel shy on such a high level. They were the only team to defeat CSM in the group matches, and they advanced to the main round with four points in hand.

In their domestic league on Wednesday, Nykøbing beat EHF Cup side Randers 34:32 following a strong comeback in the second half.

Rostov also won their last match in the national league at Universitet Izhevsk (39:22) on Tuesday. Now Frederic Bougeant’s team are joint top of the Russian Super League with Lada and Astrakhanochka, but they played one match more than their rivals.

In the EHF Champions League, Rostov learned their lesson from last season early exit after the group matches. This time they have gone through with four points - just as many as their upcoming opponents.

RK Krim Mercator (SLO) vs FC Midtjylland (DEN)
Sunday 28 January, 17:00 hrs local time, live on ehfTV.com

Last season Krim lost all six matches in the main round. Now the Slovenian champions hope for a better result, and arguably the home game against Midtjylland is their best bet to grab some points in Group 1.

On home court, Krim are quite dangerous for any rival – in the group matches, they beat NFH and Gdynia in Ljubljana, and pushed CSM all the way before losing 33:30.

While Krim have conceded the most goals among all main round participants, Midtjylland’s weakness lies in attack as they have the worst scoring record at the moment. Veronica Kristiansen may provide many goals, but her impact is not always enough for a good team result.

Yet the Danish side survived the tough group with Györ, Rostov and Brest, and now their big goal is to go through to the quarter-finals for a second straight season. And obviously a victory in Ljubljana would increase their chances for a successful campaign.

GROUP 2

Thüringer HC (GER) vs SG BBM Bietigheim (GER)
Saturday 27 January, 14:00 hrs local time, live on ehfTV.com

The German derby will feature a duel between two Group 2 outsiders. While Bietigheim start the main round with two points carried over from the previous stage, THC are the only team left in the competition with no points at all.

So the game will be important for both sides as each of them need a victory to boost morale and improve chances in this competitive group.

The two are also direct rivals in the German Bundesliga. While THC are leading, reigning champions Bietigheim are just one point behind. They faced once this season, with THC comfortably winning at home (29:22).

On Saturday, Bietigheim, who are the last season’s EHF Cup finalists, hope to take revenge and claim two valuable points.

THC’s Iveta Luzumova tops the scoring chart of the competition with 50 goals. Bietigheim’s Kim Naidzinavicius has 47 goals but is out for the season with a knee injury.

HC Vardar (MKD) vs Metz Handball (FRA)
Saturday 27 January, 17:30 hrs local time, live on ehfTV.com

Vardar confirmed their status as one of the main title favourites with six straight wins in the group matches.

With the likes of Andrea Penezic, Andrea Lekic, Alexandra Lacrabere and Jovanka Radicevic, the Macedonian team boast the second best attack in the competition after CSM. However, the stars of Skopje will oppose Metz, who are renowned for their solid defence.

In December, two Vardar players – Amandine Leynaud and Alexandra Lacrabere – became world champions with France, and now they hope to win a major trophy with their club.

However, Metz have even more newly-crowned world champions – six. Last season, the club reached the quarter-finals for the first time, and they are eager to at least repeat that feat this year.

The team coached by Emmanuel Mayonnade know how to upset Vardar – in the main round last season, they sensationally steamrolled the Macedonian team at home 42:28.

But now the two sides will meet in Skopje, where the home team, who hope to keep their good autumn form, are definitely the favourites.

FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria (HUN) vs Buducnost (MNE)
Sunday 28 January, 15:00 hrs local time, live on ehfTV.com

Similar to Vardar and Metz, FTC and Buducnost also met last season in the EHF Champions League Main Round. That time, the teams exchanged away victories and finished second and third in the group respectively.

Now the two sides are level again – both have four points carried over from the group matches, where they finished as runners-up in their sections.

FTC’s goal is to finally reach the EHF FINAL4, which will be played again in their home town Budapest. To avoid facing some of the Group 1 powerhouses in the quarter-final, they need to take the highest possible place in Group 2 – and a home win against Buducnost may set the tone for the whole campaign.

It looks like FTC might have a fair chance of winning as the Montenegrin side have not earned a single point away from home in the current European season.

Much has been said about the rejuvenation of Buducnost, who are in the process of building a new team and still lack consistency. But the young players are certainly maturing, so the team of coach Dradan Adzic have an outside chance to upset the Hungarian hosts.


TEXT: Sergey Nikolaev / ew
 
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