ROUND PREVIEW: EHF Cup Finals bidders Füchse Berlin are heading to Belarus to defend their tiny two-goal lead, while Chambery take only one-goal cushion to Hard in the second leg of the last qualification round before group phase.
Close encounters lurking this weekend
While two teams are almost in the group phase already, and others are very close, there are still some close encounters lurking among the second leg matches of Qualification Round 3 in the EHF Cup.
Kristianstad live on ehfTV.com
Being up by 38:26 after the first match in Russia, practically nothing can stop Montpellier Agglomeration HB from eliminating HC Kaustik and proceed to the group phase. The same goes for IFK Kristianstad who can fly to Romania with a 40:25 lead after their home game against Stiinta Municipal Dedeman Bacau. The match will be streamed live and free of charge on ehfTV.com on Saturday at 13:00 hrs local time (12:00 CET).
Other teams are also pretty close to the group phase, although not as close as Montpellier and Kristianstad. Among those, HC Sporta Hlohovec seem to have the best odds, as the Slovakians are defending a six-goal lead at home against OIF Arendal after having won 26:20 in Norway.
Good odds for Presov, Nantes and Skjern
Things also look pretty fine for Hlohovec's countrymen TATRAN Presov who go to Slovenia with a 34:26 lead from the home game against group phase colleagues from last season RK Maribor Branik, while two teams are defending seven goal leads from the first leg at home.
That goes for last season's runners-up in the tournament, HBC Nantes who defeated Norwegian champions Elverum HH 28:21 in the first match. The Norwegians have not given up yet, though.
“Of course, it is going to be an extremely tough second match for us, and it will be very difficult to equalise this seven goal deficit, as we are up against a very strong team. However, we are not just going to lie down and give in. We will fight the best we can, and then we will have to see how far that brings us,” Elverum coach Christian Berge told eurohandball.com
Skjern Haandbold are also seven up – 31:24 – after their home game against Serbian champions RK Vojvodina, and Skjern's head coach Ole Nørgaard has the recipe for a total triumph.
“We must win in Serbia. Vojvodina's way of playing is not going to change, and I do not believe that they can invent something new within a week. If anything is going to shake us down there, it should be the Serbian surroundings with fanatic fans and a highly motivated Serbian team,” Nørgaard told the Danish club's website.
Close ties in Brest, Hanover and Hard
“It may sound like an empty phrase, but basically we will have to be strong in our defence and minimise the number of mistakes compared to the first match,” Aarhus' right back Rune Ohm, who scored 13 goals in the first match, told eurohandball.com.
In Belarus it may be even tighter, as one of the bidders for the final round, Füchse Berlin only bring a 22:20 lead with them for the return match against HC Brest Meshkov, while the other German team in the competition, TSV Hannover-Burgdorf, have no lead to defend at all against Kadetten Schaffhausen. However, the 28:28 draw in the first leg of this tie was in Switzerland, so Hannover-Burgdorf have the edge before the home game.
Find the complete overview of the second leg matches here
TEXT: Peter Bruun / br
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