Preview of all the matches from Round 5 of the EHF Women's Champions League.
Main round on the horizon
The last two remaining rounds of the EHF Women’s Champions League will bring much excitement for the fans and some make-or-break moments for the teams. Both Larvik and Budućnost have already qualified for the Main Round, and six further teams will join the elite over the next two weeks. Reigning champion Viborg is under great pressure, as the Danes only have a theoretical chance of reaching the next phase of the queen’s class.
Viborg HK (DEN) - IK Sävehof (SWE)
Viborg, without the injured Rikke Skov, will go for its ‘last throw of the dice’ in this year’s CL campaign, whilst for Sävehof, two tough away games are coming up.
After the big defeat last weekend in Podgorica, only a theoretical chance remains for Viborg to stay in the CL. A victory against the Swedes is necessary for that, and the team of Jakob Vestergaard also needs a Budućnost victory in Russia. Afterwards, they need to beat Dinamo by a margin of nine goals, or else they’ll have to resign themselves to a spot in the Cup Winners’ Cup.
In their crucial game in Montenegro, things started well for the Danish side, as their attitude was top-notch and the Viborg players showed excellent fighting spirit, acted aggressively in defence, and Christina Pedersen performed better and better between the sticks.
However, Viborg’s second-half performance was very disappointing, and a complete contrast to that of the first 30 minutes.
When the Montenegrins increased their lead, Viborg showed no resistance and disappointingly surrendered, finally losing the game by 8 goals.
Many problems need to be fixed before the game against Sävehof, otherwise the title-holder will be saying farewell to the Champions League in only the fifth round.
The Swedes are improving their game from week to week and had a good chance to collect their first points last Sunday, when they were on eye-level with Dinamo for 55 minutes. They gave a great performance, acting as real team unit against the more fancied Russians, before losing the match in the dying minutes.
With a repeat of the great effort from last weekend, Sävehof will try to upset Viborg, although the Danes must go all-out in a desperate bid to keep the door open to the Main Round.
The EHF Women's Champions League game of Group A, Viborg HK (DEN) vs. IK Sävehof (SWE) on Sunday 14 November 2010 at 15:50 hrs (local time), will be broadcast live on our free-of-charge web stream on ehfTV.com.
Dinamo Volgograd (RUS) - Budućnost Podgorica (MNE)
With a home victory, Dinamo would progress to the Main Round, whilst the team of super-star Bojana Popović will try to maintain their 100% record in the Champions League and secure first place in the group.
Dinamo had to fight very hard in a tough game in Sweden, but managed a victory thanks to Ukrainian international Olena Iatsenko. The right-back scored seven goals in the last 12 minutes to secure victory for her Russian team.
If Iatsenko can perform as well as she did last weekend, then she’ll be the perfect replacement for Anna Kochetova, who has a shoulder injury, and is doubtful for the game against Budućnost.
The Montenegrins made their fans in the packed Morača hall very happy with some beautiful and impressive handball against Viborg, and, at the moment, they top the table with the maximum eight points.
Against the Russians it’ll be all about clinching first place in the group. With one point in Russia, Dragan Adžić´s team should secure that spot.
For Adžić and his players (who comprise most of the national team) the game in Russia will be a special occasion for a different reason: in the first round of the EURO 2010, Montenegro will face Russia.
Hypo Niederösterreich (AUT) - DVSC-Korvex Debrecen (HUN)
Strengthened by the return of Dani Piedade, Hypo will try for two home victories, whilst Debrecen faces injury problems before the crucial game in Austria.
The Hungarians tried to go all-out on home soil against Leipzig, but despite only conceding 20 goals, they lost the game. The aggressive defence worked well, but the attacking game plan didn’t, and Anita Bulath had a bad day in attack. The team of Vilmos Köstner also missed the injured Bogdanovics, who will not feature any more in this year’s CL competition.
Hypo, on the other hand, was close to a surprise in Spain, where the Austrians only lost by two goals against Itxako.
Line player and team captain Dani Piedade is back on-court again and her appearance might be decisive in the crucial game on Saturday evening.
Both goalkeepers, Terese Pedersen and Olga Sanko, played marvellously last week, and with the returning Piedade and home advantage, the team of Martin Matuschkowitz goes into the game as favorite.
HC Leipzig (GER) - Itxako Reyno de Navarra (ESP)
This is a crucial match for both teams that will decide first position in Group B.
Without the injured Anne Müller, HC Leipzig struggled in Hungary for a long time, but thanks to the saves of their magnificent goalkeeper, Katja Schülke, they collected two vital points as a nice birthday gift for manager Kay-Sven Hähner.
Coach Heine Jensen was proud of the performance of his players: "It wasn’t a nice game, but we managed a victory."
"I’m very proud of the girls, as they reacted well to Debrecen’s game." – he continued.
Against Itxako, a very tough clash is expected, and Leipzig will need full concentration to beat the opponent.
The Spaniards defeated Hypo, celebrating their third consecutive victory, but the performance wasn’t of high standard, with lots of mistakes happening in their game plan.
The 25-year-old Macarena Aguilar, top scorer against Hypo, returned after 8 months following injury, and her presence and play could bring an advantage in the game against Leipzig.
The Sunday game will be of great importance for coach Ambros Martín and his team as they aim to finish first in the group to have a better position in the Main Round.
His players are also very keen to get revenge for the lost home game against Leipzig in the first round.
Oltchim Vâlcea (ROM) - Randers HK (DEN)
Oltchim is on the right track to the Main Round, whilst Randers, despite injuries, is hoping to repeat its first round performance against the Romanians.
It was a tight game in Toulon last weekend, and coach Péter Kovács was rather worried by the athletic French players. However, with a clever game plan in the second half, Oltchim won and again has a good chance of reaching the Main Round.
For this, they’ll have to beat Danish team Randers, who are in a bit of a crisis because of a series of injuries. The earlier defeat against Toulon hurt the Danes, and now even a place in the Cup Winners’ Cup is doubtful.
Last weekend’s loss against Larvik was predictable though. Despite the large margin (20:38) coach Jan Leslie didn’t make excuses: "I stand with a sense of disappointment and self-knowledge."
He missed 6 players from his squad, praised Larvik’s effective performance, and now awaits a tough game against Oltchim.
The EHF Women's Champions League game of Group C, Oltchim Vâlcea (ROM) vs. Randers HK (DEN) on Sunday 14 November 2010 at 17:00 hrs (local time), will be broadcast live on our free-of-charge web stream on ehfTV.com.
Larvik HK (NOR) - Toulon Saint Cyr Var (FRA)
An easy game on paper: world-class Larvik is the clear favorite against its French opponent Toulon.
Larvik underlined its billing as favorite last weekend, overrunning Randers in Denmark. The Norwegian team also made history, as it was the first CL-victory by Larvik in Denmark, and also the one with the biggest margin away from home (+18).
Coach Karl Erik Bøhn hopes for a full house against Toulon to secure first place in the group: "We’re going for another victory as we want to end up first in the group to have the best possible seeding position in the Main Round."
"With first place and another victory we want to continue our journey in the CL." – he said.
Toulon, on the other hand, lost three consecutive games within a short period. Besides two defeats in the CL, they lost their last two French league games by just one goal, against Metz and Mios. So these are not the best signs in the Toulon camp.
Despite being far from favorite, coach Thierry Vincent wants his players to continue the way they did against Vâlcea. "If we were able to reproduce that type of game in all of our matches, it would bring us success."
In this duel, Larvik remains the big favorite, whilst for Toulon, the last-round game against Randers will probably be the more important one, as it could possibly decide a Cup Winners’ Cup place.
Audi ETO Győr (HUN) - Zvezda Zvenigorod (RUS)
With another victory, Győri AUDI ETO will aim for the Main Round, whilst Zvezda needs to win against the Hungarian champion to maintain its chances for the next round of the CL.
Zvezda had massive problems in Chekhov in the game against KRIM, as the defence didn’t work at all, and coach Trefilov was as unhappy as in the league game against Dinamo – a game that his team clearly lost.
Assistant coach Aleksandr Tarasikov is aware of the problems: "A new generation is playing now in Zvezda and these young players are not ready yet to play continuous, high-class handball against the best clubs in the queen’s class."
"In the last two years, important players like Kareyeva, Poltoratskaya, Shipilova, Romenskaya, Suslina and Andryushina have either retired or left us." – he continued.
Győr, on the other hand, played a very focused game in Croatia, and brought the same strong performance as the round before in Ljubljana.
Now, two home games will follow, and the team of Csaba Konkoly is ready to take revenge for its only CL defeat so far this season, when they lost in Russia in the first round match.
Everyone is fit, the goalkeeping duo of Lunde Haraldsen and Pálinger are saving with great percentages, and with both Simona Spiridon and Eduarda Amorim back in the team, a strong defence is guaranteed against Zvezda.
The EHF Women's Champions League game of Group D, Győri AUDI ETO KC (HUN) vs. Zvezda Zvenigorod (RUS) on Saturday 13 November 2010 at 17:25 hrs (local time), will be broadcast live on our free-of-charge web stream on ehfTV.com.
RK Krim Ljubljana (SLO) - Podravka Koprivnica (CRO)
KRIM has one foot in the Main Round of the Champions League, whilst Podravka is without a point and with no chance of qualifying for the next stage.
The Slovenians were highly impressive against Zvezda, using fast play to easily find holes in the Russian wall. Right-back Barbara Varlec produced some great shots, and Lekić and co. led at one point by 12 goals. The game finished 32:28 to Krim.
Coach Marta Bon was very relieved after her team beat Zvezda in Russia: "This victory takes us one step closer to the Main Round."
To achieve this, Krim needs to beat its Croatian opponent who had no chance in last weekend’s game against Győr.
"Our opponent belongs at the top of Europe and we unfortunately failed in both attack and defense." – analyzed a disappointed Podravka captain, Miranda Tatari.
Podravka still has a slim chance of reaching third place in the group and participation in the Cup Winners’ Cup. Neven Hrupec’s team needs to win both of their last-round games and Zvezda has to lose in Hungary.
Despite this only theoretical chance, Podravka will not give up the fight in Ljubljana, and will try to surprise the home team by collecting its first CL point(s) of the season.
TEXT: Márk Hegedüs
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