ROUND PREVIEW: Two very different situations in Portugal and Poland ahead of the Men's EHF Challenge Cup semi-finals, but all four teams believe they are still in with a shout
Sävehof far from certain
Both Swedish side IK Sävehof and RK Metaloplastika Sabac of Serbia are reaching out for the Men´s EHF Challenge Cup Final after home wins in the first leg. The Serbian team bring an eight-goal lead with them to Portugal for the second leg of their semi-final tie against Aguas Santas-Milaneza.
It is still too early to write off the Portuguese team, though, and it is definitely too early to write off either party in the other tie.
IK Sävehof are only leading by two goals before going to Poland for their second meeting with KS “Azoty-Pulawy”, so everything is open there.
Aguas Santas-Milaneza (POR) vs RK Metaloplastika Sabac (SRB)
With an eight-goals advantage after the first leg, Metaloplastika obviously find themselves in an extremely good position ahead of the second meeting between the two teams on Saturday evening.
However, there is some kind of a leap from playing in front of 3,000 enthusiastic supporters in the Zorka in Sabac to visiting the Associacao Atlética in Aguas Santas.
Furthermore, Aguas Santas-Milaneza has shown several times in this tournament already that you should never write off this Portuguese team and Milaneza have definitely not given up yet.
“The result in Serbia was not what we expected, and we will try to turn the result in our favour in the game in Portugal.
“We know that we have an adversary with a great team and a lot of tradition in European Cup and that the task will not be easy.
“We rely on our supporters to help us make a historical passage to the Challenge Cup final,” Milaneza coach Paulo Faria told eurohandball.com.
KS “Azoty-Pulawy” (POL) vs IK Sävehof (SWE)
Things could have been considerably worse than being two goals down for Azoty-Pulawy ahead of the home game against Sävehof.
In the first match in Sweden, Sävehof were leading by five goals several times, the latest time at 33:28 deep into the second half, but the Polish team managed to erase the deficit at 38:38, before Sävehof scored the last two goals.
This makes the Saturday match in the Hala Sportowa Pulawach in Pulawy very open, but with a slight advantage to Pulawy due to playing at home.
With 12 goals, centre back Piotr Maslowski played his part in Pulawy getting away with such a narrow defeat in Sweden in the first leg, and there is no doubt that the Sävehof defence will keep an extra eye on the 26-year-old playmaker this time around.
“We will have to focus on our defensive play. Conceding 38 goals, as we did in the first match is not okay,” said Sävehof left back Mattias Thynell, who was his team’stop scorer in the first leg with nine goals.
TEXT: Peter Bruun / cor
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