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19.02.2018, 18:40
Key topics as group phase battle intensifies
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TALKING POINTS: With the VELUX EHF Champions League Group Phase approaching its completion after last week's Round 12, lines are getting clearer

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

Key topics as group phase battle intensifies

The end of the group phase of the VELUX EHF Champions League draws closer. The fight for a place in the Last 16 is getting more intense, while we already have a team all the way through to the quarter-finals.

Let’s take a look at some of the highlights of Round 12.

Six teams fight for two tickets left

With two rounds left to play in the group phase, there are six teams fighting for two tickets to the Last 16 in Groups A and B.

In Group A, Orlen Wisla Plock, HC Zagreb and IFK Kristianstad all have six points in the bottom three. Polish side Plock have the best goal difference and sit in the popular sixth place, while Zagreb and Kristianstad play each other in the last round which could turn out to be the decider.

In Group B, HC Meshkov Brest have a three-point lead over Aalborg Håndbold and RK Celje in the battle for the sixth place. With four points up for grabs, the bottom two are up against each other in the next round.

It’s going to be a battle until the end.

PSG have already done it – making it all the way to the quarter-finals

Not unexpectedly, Paris Saint-Germain Handball didn’t let slip the opportunity to secure top spot in Group B this weekend. With two rounds yet to play, they did exactly that with a victory over SG Flensburg-Handewitt, 29:21.

It was PSG’s 11th victory in 12 matches, underlining how the French giants have shown the most stable performance throughout the group phase.

But to reach the top is not possible without team work as Nikola Karabatic clearly showed against Flensburg. He does not only score in the opposite goal, he can also save his own.

Zagreb deliver when it’s do-or-die

Croatian side HC PPD Zagreb had their back against the wall now that the group phase is coming to an end. And when hosting HBC Nantes in the ehfTV.com Match of the Week, an opponent who came off a seven-game winning series, there did not seem much reason to be optimistic.

However, when it‘s do-or-die the strength often unleashes like ever before and that certainly happened for Zagreb, who put an end to Nantes‘ winning streak with a magnificent victory, 23:22.

Zagreb’s goalkeeper Urh Kastelic was on everyone’s lips after the game, having saved a fast-break attempt during the last seconds. A save that truly keeps Zagreb’s Last 16 hopes alive.

His reaction really says it all.

Family reunion in Kielce

It was a family reunion when PGE Vive Kielce and RK Celje Pivovarna Lasko met in Group B. The Polish side secured their ticket to the Last 16 with a six-goal win, 37:31.

The Dujshebaev family was split between the teams as father Talant and his older son Alex in Kielce hosted the younger son Dani from the Slovenian side. The brothers won gold together with Spain during the EHF EURO in Croatia last month, but there was no time to play nice this time.

The brothers both netted two times for their teams, but it was the older one, Alex, who got a reason to celebrate.

Watch highlights from the game on ehfTV.com

Number five plays a big role for German teams

Number five was in the spotlight for German teams THW Kiel and Rhein-Neckar Löwen in Round 12 - for different purposes though.

Kiel got their fifth straight victory in Group B, now 27:20 against Aalborg, in the battle between Icelandic coaches Alfred Gislason and Aron Kristjansson. Kiel struggled in the beginning of the season but are now well in the battle with Flensburg and Veszprém for the second place in the group behind PSG.

Fellow German side Rhein-Neckar Löwen ended their five-game winless streak in Group A against IFK Kristianstad, winning 32:29. A first win since Round 6 in early November was a big relief for the Lions - and a reason to celebrate.


TEXT: Andri Yrkill Valsson / ew
 
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