11.11.2011, 01:26
Final decisions

We preview the final round of the EHF Women´s Champions League group phase, which takes place this weekend.


Final decisions

Round 6 will give us answers about the top 8 participants for the Main Round and also the Cup Winners´ Cup spots. For the bottom teams, the European Cup season will be over, and those four last-placed clubs can concentrate on their domestic leagues.

So far, Budućnost, Itxako and Oltchim have made their way to the Main Round, with five more clubs joining them after the weekend.

http://www.ehfTV.com/ has live coverage of FC Midtjylland vs. Budućnost, Metz vs. Randers, and Krim vs. Larvik, but regional restrictions apply. Click HERE for listings.


For regional TV listings of all the EHF Women's Champions League matches click HERE.



GROUP A



FC Midtjylland (DEN) vs. Budućnost (MNE)
Friday 11 November, 19:00 hrs (local time)

Live on www.ehfTV.com (regional restrictions apply)

The Danes could have made it to the top 8 last weekend by earning a point on home soil against Byåsen. Now they will either need a point against the top Montenegrin team, or Thüringer´s help in stealing point(s) from the Norwegians.

Not much worked for coach Ryan Zinglersen´s team in the fifth round. His players produced their worst half-time this season, and despite a great catch-up phase in the second half, the trainer was very disappointed.

Budućnost, on the other hand, are the only undefeated team in the tournament, with five victories from five games. The question is whether coach Dragan Adžić will rest his first-choice players before the World Championship or whether they will aim for another victory in the EHF Champions League.

Big blow for the away side prior to the match, as Katarina Bulatović is suspended and is not eligible to play for Budućnost in the game against FCM.

The Montenegrins will finish as the group winner anyway, but another victory would give them a great confidence boost for their preparations before travelling to Brazil.

Thüringer HC (GER) vs. Byåsen (NOR)


Sunday 13 November, 15:00 hrs (local time)

The Norwegians took their last chance last weekend and celebrated an away victory in Ikast. With this they maintained their chances for the Main Round. With a fantastic first half, where they outclassed FCM, they cemented a victory which gives them a good chance of progressing to top 8.

Camilla Herrem and her team-mates will already be aware of the result of the group´s other match, so in case FCM don´t win or draw, coach Valery Putans´ team will enter the court with double motivation to beat Thüringer HC, and with this, qualify for the top 8.

The Germans, on the other hand, are still without points in the tournament and their only wish is to bid a nice farewell to the CL, and a home victory would be something for the fans to remember.

GROUP B

RK Krim Mercator (SLO) vs. Larvik (NOR)
Sunday 13 November, 17:30 hrs (local time)

Live on www.ehfTV.com (regional restrictions apply)

Not even a victory over Podravka would have meant a top 8 qualification for the hosts, as last year´s EHF Champions League winner, Larvik surprisingly lost their home game against Viborg. Therefore, a direct duel will decide which team will go on to the next phase of the tournament.

Larvik were unable to cope with the determined Viborg players and their strong defence in front of outstanding Christina Pedersen. Despite several injuries in their ranks, Larvik will summon all their strength for this decisive clash.

In round 5 Krim had massive problems with Podravka´s left wingers and conceded too many goals from this position. This will be something to fix before the match-up with the Norwegians.

Besides their strong back-court, the Slovenians will count on their supporters as an eighth player. Against Podravka they were there in great numbers, and with their amazing vocal performance, they can certainly lift their side.

HC Podravka Vegeta (CRO) vs. Viborg HK (DEN)
Sunday 13 November, 18:00 hrs (local time)

Just like Byåsen in Group A, the Danes from Viborg had to go all-out in their fifth round match to remain in the race for a Main Round spot. Indeed Martin Albertsen´s team gave its best and overcame in an away duel with title-defender Larvik.

Against Podravka they will have their fate in their own hands, as Krim will meet Larvik in a direct duel to decide a top 8 place.

The Croats were hugely disappointed after they only drew in Ljubljana last weekend, as this meant an early farewell from the European cup season, just like last year. Despite their strong performance and having an almost continuous lead throughout the match, Krim shocked them by leveling seconds before the final whistle.

With no chance for third place in the group, Podravka´s only aim will be to reward their home fans with a victory this weekend, as the only points they’ve gathered so far came from their away matches.

GROUP C



Győri Audi ETO (HUN) vs. Hypo Niederösterreich (AUT)
Sunday 13 November, 17:15 hrs (local time)

Hypo surprised the Hungarians and with their victory, everything is shuffled again in the group, as even the Austrians could advance to the Main Round, whilst Győr still need a draw to progress to the top 8.

Coach András Németh picked some great tactics in yesterday´s match, whereas his counterpart, Csaba Konkoly, wasn´t able to come up with the required changes within his side´s attacking and defensive systems. The Hungarians seemed without plans and really caught a cold during their Austrian nightmare.

For this return match the question will be how Anita Görbicz and company digested the loss and whether Konkoly can come up with some proper tactics against his counterpart, the vastly-experienced Németh.

Wednesday´s victory will give extra motivation to Hypo´s players who, despite only having four points from four games, still have chances to reach the first two places of the group.

For the Hungarians, in front of their frenetic supporters, nothing other than a clear win is acceptable after this loose performance in Austria.

Metz Handball (FRA) vs. Randers HK (DEN)


Saturday 12 November, 18:30 (local time)

Live on www.ehfTV.com (regional restrictions apply)

In last weekend´s duel against Hypo, coach Sébastien Gardillou´s team gave their best, but despite an amazing catch-up phase, it was not enough to take point(s) from Austria.

Randers, on the other hand, was humiliated in Hungary and had zero chance. Coach Jan Leslie´s team lost by 15 goals against Audi ETO, in what was a disappointing match for the Danes.

The two losers from last weekend will need to focus on these important 60 minutes, as one of them could qualify for the top 8 which would mean the biggest success in club history so far, giving six more top games among the elite of the EHF Women´s Champions League.

In their first encounter, Metz brought home two points from Denmark by winning with a last-second goal. Randers were without goalkeeper Chana Masson in that game, but she will be 'on fire' against the French in the re-match.

GROUP D



C.S. Oltchim Rm. Vâlcea (ROU) vs. Grupo Asfi Itxako Navarra (ESP)


Sunday 13 November, 18:00 hrs (local time)

Two handball heavyweights will meet in the last round to decide the group winner. So far both teams have lost once in the competition. With a draw on Sunday, Oltchim would remain in top position, as the Romanians defeated the Spaniards in Itxako´s home stadium.

That defeat hurt Itxako coach Ambros Martín very much, so his side will try to take revenge for that third round loss.

The Romanians were not pressured too much by Buxtehude last weekend, and therefore the clash against Itxako, last year´s EHF Champions League finalist, will be the real measurement to see where the hosts stand now.

Both clubs will try to finish on top, as the group leader position would probably give them a better draw situation for the Main Round.

Dinamo Volgograd (RUS) vs. Buxtehuder SV (GER)


Sunday 13 November, 14:00 hrs (local time)



Everything is clear for both teams before the final round: despite a hard fight in Estella last weekend, Dinamo lost their match against Itxako, and therefore they will continue in the Cup Winners´ Cup. This is a real disappointment for the Russian champions after top results in recent seasons.

Coach Victor Ryabykh has claimed already that the late preparation phase was one of the main reasons for his side´s mediocre performances in the early rounds. The tough competitors Itxako and Oltchim were also too strong for Anna Kochetova and company.

Just like the other German team in the competition, Thüringer HC, Buxtehude are still without points and are desperate for their first success. Dirk Leun´s team will have its last chance for this against Dinamo, but it will be a tough match in far-away Russia.

The German runner-up lost its home game against Dinamo in a clear manner, the Russians having won in Hamburg by nine goals.

For regional TV listings of all the EHF Women's Champions League matches click HERE.

TEXT: Márk Hegedüs


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