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13.11.2018, 17:50
Just one round left but there is a lot at stake
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TALKING POINTS: Three teams are out of contention but there is a lot left to play for in the Women’s EHF Champions League. Here are the main topics after Round 5 of the group matches
 

Just one round left but there is a lot at stake

The Women’s EHF Champions League is right in the business end of the group matches. Before the last round of games this weekend, let’s have a look back at the exciting Round 5.

Who has qualified, who has everything to play for, and how did powerhouses CSM and Györ do are some of the talking points after last week.

1. Everything still to play for

There are 11 teams already through to the main round, with the 12th spot going to either Podravka Vegeta or Thüringer HC. The German side has one point less in the Group C standings, but plays at home against Krim, while the Croatian side faces the toughest possible task, away at Györ.

From the other groups, Larvik (Group A), Sävehof (B) and Bietigheim (D) are out.

But as qualified teams take the points earned between with them into the main round, there is a lot more at stake in Round 6. CSM Bucuresti (six points), Buducnost (six) and Kobenhavn Handball (three) cannot improve their total anymore.

2. CSM show their strength

Unexpected losses against Bietigheim and especially at home against Kristiansand were important question marks for CSM Bucuresti, undermining their status as a title contender. Yet with a plethora of stars on display, a vast amount of experience and talent in their roster, the Romanian side showed once again what they are capable of on a good day by winning against FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria, 34:28.

It was a dominant display, especially from Cristina Neagu, who scored 10 times to help CSM power past the Hungarian side and minimise the damage from the two defeats. While the defence was not stellar, it showed passion and spirit, while in attack the Romanian champions scored at free will. CSM are the third attack of the competition and can get even better, which should be a frightening prospect for their opponents this season.

3. The backs are still on top

Backs are still the biggest commodity in the Women’s EHF Champions League and teams are relying heavily on them to score this season. Therefore, it is no surprise that the first eight players in the top goal scorer standings are backs or playmakers, with Cristina Neagu leading the rankings with 44 goals, followed by the EHF Player of the Month in October, Anna Vyakhireva (39), and Ana Gros (38).

The best scoring non-back is Brest line player Sladana Pop Lazic, who scored 30 goals, while Krim left wing Tamara Mavsar and CSM left wing Majda Mehmedovic are even further behind, in 15th place, with 24 goals. The last time a back court player did not win the top scorers’ title was in the 2009/10 season, when Heidi Løke led with 99 goals.

4. Can Metz earn their first Women’s EHF FINAL 4 berth?

They say a good defence is the best way to win a trophy, so why would not Metz Handball hope for at place among the four best teams in Europe this season? The French side is in their third season under coach Emannuel Mayonnade and his approach has been the same since his first day in charge: a good defensive record and a creative attack.

On the offense part, the French side are outscored by the best attack in the competition, Györ, by almost 10 goals per game. But their defensive record is superb, with an average of 21.4 goals conceded per game. Only Buducnost scored 24 goals against the French side, who will surely have more difficult tests playing against Rostov or Brest Bretagne in the main round. Still, Metz have surely established themselves as a tough nut to crack.

5. Best start ever for Györ?

Changing a coach after six successful seasons can surely impact even a powerhouse like Györ. Yet the Hungarian side shows no signs of stopping even without Ambros Martin, who has been replaced by his former assistant coach, Gabor Danyi. Without injured key player Nora Mørk and Zsuzsanna Tomori, the Hungarian champions have swept away everything that came in their way in the group matches, remaining the only team with a 100% winning record, after Rostov drew against Brest two rounds ago.

Moreover, Györ have a chance to earn their best ever start in the competition, if they secure a seven-goal win against Podravka. Györ have previously started the group phase with a six-win sweep, and their best goal difference of +56 was set in the 2014/15 season. They currently are on +50, so this could be an objective against a Podravka team fighting for its main round berth.


TEXT: Adrian Costeiu / ew
 
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