Round 3 opens in Switzerland
Round 3 of the VELUX EHF Men's Champions League opens tonight (Wednesday) as Swiss side, Kadetten Schaffhausen entertain Cuatro Rayas Valladolid from Spain in Wintherthur. Here is the complete preview of all of this week's matches:
FC Barcelona Borges – HC Celje Pivovarna Lasko
After taking one important point from reigning champion, THW Kiel, life has become easier for Barcelona – now they are going for their first points on home soil against a reinforced team from Celje.
The Slovenians took their two points in Kielce, but then lost at home – like Barcelona before – against Rhein Neckar Löwen.
The match will be a duel of two world-class goalkeepers from the Balkan region: Danijel Saric (Barcelona) and Mirko Allilovic (Celje).
The game is also something like a homecoming to Spain for four Celje players, who played in Liga Asobal before: Allilovic, Petar Metlicic, Uros Zorman and Ales Pajovic.
THW Kiel – Vive Targi Kielce
There is another homecoming of sorts for Kielce coach Bogdan Wenta, who was a player in Flensburg and coach in Magdeburg – now he returns to Germany without any points on the Kielce account after losing against Celje and in Chambery.
Following the draw against Barcelona, the reigning champions of the VELUX EHF Men’s Champions League are focussed on their first home victory. Still Kiel have to replace Momir Ilic, Daniel Narcisse and Kim Andersson – but despite this fact THW are the favourites in this match.
Rhein Neckar Löwen – Chambery Savoie
The Löwen, leaders of Group A, who are still full of self confidence after their away victories in Barcelona and Celje – and now they want to carry on their run of success in their first home match.
But they have to be aware, as Chambery not only took the points against Celje, but were a strong opponents last season, when they tied in the Lion’s Cage in the Group Phase.
KIF Kolding – HSV Hamburg
Two away matches, two victories – this is the balance for KIF Kolding after the first rounds in the VELUX EHF Men’s Champions League.
And because the Danes are normally known as a team with even more strength on home ground, HSV have to be careful.
Last season Kolding secured draws against the later finalists, Kiel and Barcelona, at home – and now they have reinforced their team with Lars Christiansen - KIF’s top scorer in the first rounds.
HSV lost in Veszprem and need both points to fulfil their objective of finishing in top spot in the Group.
For the Germans it is their third consecutive away match – but a lot of HSV fans will take the train to Kolding, as it is only a hop across the border.
MKB Veszprem – Montpellier Agglomeration
The ehfTV.com Match of the Week with live commentary from Tom O’Brannighan will bring together two traditional top teams of the competition.
After beating HSV thanks to 13 goals from CL top scorer, Marko Vujin, Veszprem are fully confident of overcoming the next top team in the great atmosphere of the Veszprem Arena.
After losing against HSV on home ground, Montpellier need two points not to lose the spur to the top ranked teams.
IK Sävehof – Tatran Presov
Two teams still looking for points meet in Sweden – and thanks to their greater experience, the Slovaks seem to be in pole position.
But the Swedish team will count on many spectators, as they have a “double header” this Sunday: both – men and women – play their matches one after another.
Kadetten Schaffhausen – Cuatro Rayas Valladolid
After their impressive catch-up chase in Aalborg on Sunday, Kadetten today are really looking forward to their first match in Switzerland, not in Schaffhausen, but in Winterthur.
The opener of this third round should bring the first victories to the Swiss Champion, even if they know that Valladolid are one of the favourites in this Group.
The Spaniards gave away the victory against Chekhovski Medvedi in the final stages of their last match and now want to take revenge.
Dinamo Minsk – Chekhovskie Medvedi
The victory against Szeged – the first ever win in the VELUX EHF Champions League in the club’s history – gave Dinamo Minsk a huge ego boost.
Now they are awaiting their great Russian neighbour, the “Bears from Chekhov”.
As Medvedi is not participating in the Inter-Regional League (Russia, Belarussia, Ukraine) Minsk has not played against them before in an official match.
This Russian-Belarussian clash will bring together two physically strong teams that can exert huge pressure from the back court area on the other’s defence.
Obviously Medvedi is the favourite, but Minsk have proved that they have a real strength on home court. For Dinamo it is their third home match in a row.
Pick Szeged – Aab Handball
After the Danes lost a point in the final minute against Schaffhausen their hopes are high of earning a win in Szeged.
But the Hungarians seem to be clearly better on home soil – as shown in their victory against Kadetten – and they need to win this duel, which could be highly important if they are to reach the Last 16 in this close Group.
HC St. Petersburg – HK Croatia Ossiguranje Zagreb
This is the third home match for the Russians, and the third away match for the Croats after travelling to Romania and Bosnia.
The game is a match of two complete differences: As St. Petersburg is playing their first ever season in the VELUX EHF Champions League, Zagreb is participant in the CL since their start in 1993.
Thanks to their strong attack, Zagreb seems to be the favourite in this match.
But St. Petersburg need to take their points on home soil (like against Bosna before) to reach the knock-out stage. The Croats have to be careful as they lost one point in Sarajevo last weekend.
Bosna Sarajevo – SG Flensburg-Handewitt
After the draw against Zagreb the spectators in the “Skenderija” will hope for another sensation against the German CL finalist of 2004 and 2007.
Bosna lost in St. Petersburg, Flensburg fought hard without a happy-end in Ciudad Real and took the points without glamour against Constanta.
Thanks to their strong goalkeepers and their fast match play the Germans are playing the role of favourites, but the Bosnians have shown what their able to with the help of their spectators and their fighting spirit on home ground.
Renovalia Ciudad Real – HCM Constanta
The only spotless team of this Group meet the only team without points – Ciudad Real are the clear favourites in their 101st ever match of the VELUX EHF Men’s Champions League against the Romanians that had lost against Zagreb and in Flensburg.
Only a wonder will turn Constanta’s fortune.