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04.02.2019, 11:30
5 questions after this week’s surprise results
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TALKING POINTS: Several wild results in Round 2 shed new light on the next steps in the Women’s EHF Champions League Main Round

»EHF CL Channel »2018-19 Women's CL
»Main Round
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5 questions after this week’s surprise results

Round 2 of the Women’s EHF Champions League Main Round featured two special clashes, pitting two French teams and two Hungarian teams against each other.

While Metz had little trouble to dispose of Brest (32:21), Györ’s winning streak was halted by FTC in a high-octane game that ended in a stalemate, 32:32.

Therefore, a new set of questions arose after the last batch of games. We have five for you:

1. Are Györ beatable?

Györ are still unbeaten for more than a year in Europe’s top-flight competition, but cracks have been starting to show in their armour, at least in away games. Neither their fans, nor their opponents should overreact to Györ’s 32:32 draw against FTC last Saturday, but FTC showed that a recipe to stop the Hungarian juggernaut was found and could be perfected.

The attack was still impressive, especially with the creativity and the firepower of the nine-meter line, but the defence is still a work in progress after coach Ambros Martin left last summer to sign for Rostov. Measured by goals conceded, Györ have only the third-best defence in the competition. They have to rely on their attack heavier in the business end of the season if they fail to improve. However, their mantra in the past seasons was that defence wins championships, therefore some tweaks are needed.

2. How far can Metz go?

Boasting eight players who won the gold medal at the Women’s EHF EURO 2018 in December with France, Metz are one of the in-form teams in the Women’s EHF Champions League. The French side is on a 10-game winning streak in all competitions and won their past four European games, with the team firing from all cylinders.

The 32:21 win against Brest showed once again the gulf in class between the two sides, with Metz slowly but surely becoming a dark horse for a Women’s EHF FINAL 4 berth in Budapest. Playmaker Grace Zaadi has been in superb form in the main round, scoring seven goals per game against Rostov and Brest, while also dishing superb assists for her team mates.

3. Is Ambros’ influence paying off?

Ambros Martin has signed a one-year contract extension with Rostov and this could only mean good things are about to happen for the Russian powerhouse. They might have lost against Metz in the first round (29:25) but they came back roaring and executed the game plan to perfection against Buducnost for a 24:22 win.

The first place in the group is still possible, especially considering that superstar Anna Vyakhireva was out injured in this game. Martin’s influence and defensive nous have rubbed off on his players and will prove decisive in tough moments.

4. Are Vipers this season’s dark horse?

What started as just a fight for survival is now a fully-fledged five-game winning streak for Vipers Kristiansand. The Norwegian champions are now locked in a battle for the second place in Group 2 with CSM Bucuresti, as they are tied on points with the Romanian powerhouse and own the tiebreaker, due to their superb away win, 31:26.

Thüringer HC only coped with Vipers for 20 minutes, as the Norwegian side had a troubled start before coming back and earning another win. The experience brought to the table by Katrine Lunde meshes superbly with the youth of Malin Aune, Silje Waade or Henny Reistad, and Ole Gustav Gjekstad’s experience on the bench surely helps. Vipers are definitely a team to watch and one of the most pleasant surprises in the competition.

5. All done for Krim?

While the battle for the fourth place is on in Group 1 - with Odense, Kobenhavn and Brest fighting for the last quarter-final berth - this situation in Group 2 seems clearer. Krim are trailing fourth-place TFC by just two points but the Slovenian side needs to up their game.

Krim managed to play at the same level with CSM for only 15 minutes and ended up losing 32:26. So the game against FTC in Ljubljana on Saturday could be decisive for Krim, as only a win would really help the Slovenian side’s chances to progress to the quarter-final.


TEXT: Adrian Costeiu / ew
 
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