Preview of the second round of the Men’s EHF European Cup competitions
Due to the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in Cologne the second leg matches of the Men’s European Cup competition finals will be held on unusual dates this weekend.
Starting on Thursday with the decision of the EHF Cup in Göppingen, the finals of the Cup Winners’ Cup on Friday in Flensburg and the EHF Challenge Cup in Thun on Monday will follow.
Cup Winners’ Cup
SG Flensburg-Handewitt (GER) vs. VfL Gummersbach (GER)
SG Flensburg-Handewitt will be hoping for an historic day: After winning the first final in Gummersbach, they want to win the Cup Winners’ Cup for the second time since 2001. Seven years after they have won their last trophy (the German Cup) the Northern Germans are highly motivated.
On the other hand defending champions VfL Gummersbach do not only have the disadvantage of the home defeat “on their side”, but have to play a league match in Hannover only 47 hours before the re-match.
“We must avoid being euphoric, as it is only half-time in the final. And it means nothing if you lead at half-time with a one goal difference,” Flensburg coach Ljubomir Vranjes warned his players.
Frisch Auf Göppingen is absolutely focused on not underestimating Dunkerque after their first leg draw.
“We have built the base to defend the title on home ground,” Göppingen coach Velimir Petkovic said, “but we have to keep our concentration high for 60 minutes.”
On Dunkerque|s side, the hopes are high that their top star Sebastien Bosquet will be able to return to the team after extending his contract this week.
The match has been sold-out for weeks, 5000 spectators in Göppingen will create the typical European Cup atmosphere, which was the motivation to win the title in 2011. And Germans and French hope for a special bonus: The aggregate winner of this final will qualify for the new EHF Cup next season (like the winner of the Cup Winners’ Cup).
A draw with less than 25 goals on each side (or a victory) would already be enough for Göppingen, Dunkerque need to win away – like they did in the semi-final in Magdeburg.
EHF Challenge Cup
In the “middle” of the final series of the Swiss championship Wacker Thun have to focus on the international competition on the unusual playing date on Monday evening. After the close defeat – and after a strong catch-up chase – the Swiss team is aiming for their second title in the EHF Challenge Cup since 2005.
“I hope that we get the same vociferous support Argous had on home ground,” Wacker coach Martin Rubin said. The newly crowned Greek champion coach Georigios Zaravinas is satisfied with the way his team played at home.
Though he cautioned, “We could have won with a bigger distance than three goals. Hopefully those missed chances of the first match will not prove costly in Switzerland.”
TEXT: Björn Pazen
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