EHF CUP PREVIEW: The second match day of the Men’s EHF Cup Group Phase throws off on Wednesday night
EHF Cup action resumes on Wednesday
Having completed the first round on Sunday, the group phase action is back again already on Wednesday in the Men´s EHF Cup.
Pfadi Winterthur welcome HSV Hamburg in a match where both teams will be chasing their second successive win and decide an early leader in Group A.
Men’s EHF Cup Group Phase
Pfadi Winterthur (SUI) vs HSV Hamburg (GER)
Both teams got a successful start to their group phase campaign.
Despite certain trouble along the way, Hamburg opened with a 33:28 win at home against Gorenje Velenje, while Winterthur also had to struggle a bit in Norway before taking a 27:23 with them from Haslum.
Therefore, the match in the Eulachalle of Winterthur on Wednesday night will be the match for first place in the group for the time being and Hamburg are the favourites, despite playing away.
Gorenje Velenje (SLO) vs Haslum Handballklubb (NOR)
Just as the two winners from the first match day meet in the second round, so too will the two losers of the opening matches, who meet Saturday night at Rdeca Dvorana in Velenje.
While Gorenje lost by five away to Hamburg, Haslum were even more disappointed by losing by four goals at home to Pfadi Winterthur.
On home court, Velenje, with their proud traditions in Europe, not least in the EHF Champions League, appear to be favourites.
Team Tvis Holstebro (DEN) vs HCM Constanta (ROU)
It will be two teams who both opened their group phase campaign with draws who meet in the Graakjaer Arene of Holstebro on Saturday afternoon.
The two teams also share the fact that neither of them were able to hold on to five-goal leads, as Holstebro drew 28:28 in Spain against Fraikin BM. Granollers, whole Constanta had to be content at the end with 25:25 at home against St. Petersburg HC.
Holstebro have experience with Romanian opposition this season already, as the current number five in the Danish league eliminated Bacau in the third qualification round, but Constanta might be a slightly bigger handful for future Danish women’s national coach Klavs Bruun Jørgensen’s men.
St. Petersburg HC (RUS) vs Fraikin BM. Granollers (ESP)
Everything is open in the group after both opening matches ended with a draw, so the possible winner of this meeting in Arena St. Petersburg will be in a very good position with regards to progressing in the tournament.
Both teams managed to fight back from five goal deficits in their opening games, and an equal match seems to be likely in Russia this Sunday afternoon.
Skjern Handbold (DEN) vs Futebol Clube do Porto (POR)
Skjern started with a hard-fought away win against HC Vojvodina on Sunday, while Porto were dominating for great parts of the first half of their home game against Füchse Berlin before being defeated by six goals at the end.
The Portuguese team, who were in the VELUX EHF Champions League last season, may be in for another difficult task Sunday in the Skjern Bank Arena in the far west of Denmark, where Skjern are usually difficult to defeat with the backing of a very enthusiastic home crowd.
“We will probably need to win our first two matches in order to keep the chance to advance in the tournament. We have the first one already,” said Skjern coach Ole Norgaard, referring to the win in Serbia on the first match day.
Füchse Berlin (GER) vs HC Vojvodina (SRB)
Füchse overcame trouble in the first half in Porto and secured a clear win after all in their first group match.
There is no doubt that the Bundesliga team are favourites when playing their first match in the Max-Schmeling-Halle, which will also be the venue of the EHF Cup Finals in May.
Vojvodina played an equal match at home against Skjern on Sunday, but that was in front of their own spectators.
The big question is what the Serbian champions can accomplish away against an opponent of Füchse’s class.
Eskilstuna Guif (SWE) vs Balatonfüredi KSE (HUN)
It will be the two losing teams of the first match day in this group who meet in the Eskilstuna Sporthall on Saturday afternoon.
However, there is a certain difference between the ways the two teams lost their first matches.
While Eskilstuna lost by four goals away to German Bundesliga team MT Melsungen, Balatonfüredi marked their group phase debut with a 12-goal defeat at home to RK Nexe.
Base on those results, Eskilstuna appear as favourites to get their first group phase points in eight attempts.
RK Nexe (CRO) vs MT Melsungen (GER)
Both teams will obviously be keen on defending their good start, when they meet in this early top match in the group in Nasice.
Nexe cruised to victory against Balatonfüredi, the biggest victory of Round 1, but Melsungen’s home win against Eskilstuna was more commanding than the four goal difference at the end suggested.
Actually, the Bundesliga team was leading by eight goals in the final stages, before allowing the Swedish visitors to reduce the gap a little.
It will be interesting to see if the German group favourites can take another win on a difficult away court in Croatia.
TEXT: Peter Bruun / cor
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