ROUND PREVIEW: All three Bundesliga teams in the Men’s EHF Cup can take their third consecutive win this weekend
German teams look to maintain perfect record
The three teams from the German Bundesliga can all take their third win in succession, when the third round of the group phase in the Men’s EHF Cup is played this weekend.
HSV Hamburg are in Norway on Sunday to take on Haslum Handbollklubb in Group A. In Group C, Füchse Berlin find themselves in a genuine headline match in Denmark against Skjern Handbold, the only non-German team who have won their first two matches. In Group D, MT Melsungen are in Hungary to face bottom placed Balatonfüredi KSE.
Men’s EHF Cup Group Phase
Pfadi Winterthur (SUI) vs Gorenje Velenje (SLO)
Winterthur got off to a good start at home against Hamburg on Saturday, but had to see the German visitors leave with a four-goal win at the end.
Now the Swiss team will be trying to avenge this defeat in yet another home match, when Velenje come to town on Saturday evening.
Just like Winterthur, Velenje started the group phase with a win and a loss. The opening match away against Hamburg was lost by five goals, but last weekend’s home game against Haslum resulted in a 13-goal win for the Slovenian team.
Haslum Handbollklubb (NOR) vs HSV Hamburg (GER)
So far, the group phase has been perfect for Hamburg with two wins, by five goals at home against Gorenje Velenje and four away against Pfadi Winterthur after struggling at the beginning.
Despite playing away, the VELUX EHF Champions League winners from 2013 cannot escape being favourites against the Norwegian champions, who have suffered two clear defeats already and are still licking their wounds after their 13-goal loss to Velenje last weekend.
Fraikin BM. Granollers (ESP) vs HCM Constants (ROU)
With only one point after their first two matches, Constanta are already under pressure in the race for a quarter-final berth, but their hopes may not be boosted in Spain on Saturday.
Things look brighter for Granollers, who are undefeated after a draw at home against Team Tvis Holstebro and a five-goal away win against St. Petersburg HC.
A home win against Constanta will obviously take the Spanish side a step further in the direction of the quarter-finals.
Team Tvis Holstebro (DEN) vs St. Petersburg HC (RUS)
Holstebro, who finished third in the 2012/13 EHF Cup, were discontent with losing a five-goal lead and end by drawing 28:28 away against Granollers in their first group match this season, but the Danish team was slightly happier with their six-goal win at home against Constanta last weekend.
Judging by the teams’ performances in their first matches, Holstebro appear to be favourites to take their second successive win, when St. Petersburg visit the Grakjaer Arena Saturday evening.
St. Petersburg travel to Denmark with only point, which they got thanks to a draw at home against Constanta in the opening match.
Their second match resulted in a five goal home defeat to Granollers, so the Russian team is under pressure to start getting points soon.
Skjern Handbold (DEN) vs Füchse Berlin (GER)
A genuine highlight is awaiting the spectators in Skjern Bank Arena on Saturday afternoon.
Group C is the only group, where two teams still have maximum points, and exactly those two teams meet in the far west of Denmark.
Skjern started with a hard-fought 25:23 win in Serbia against HC Vojvodina before defeating Porto more clearly 27:21 at home.
Things have been a bit easier for Füchse so far. The first match away against Porto was won 26:20 after a shaky first half, while Berlin had no trouble what so ever at home against Vojvodina who were beaten 37:22.
Obviously, the possible winner of the top match, will not only have taken a major step towards the quarter-finals, but also have a good chance of winning the group.
HC Vojvodina (SRB) vs Futebol Clube do Porto (POR)
Only three out of the 16 teams in the group phase are still without a point after two match days, Haslum in Group A and the two teams who meet in Novi Sad Sunday evening.
Vojvodina suffered a two-goal defeat in a close home game against Skjern on the first match day, but were blown away 37:22 in Berlin by Füchse last weekend.
Porto, who were in the VELUX EHF Champions League Group Phase last season, were leading for almost all of the first half at home against Füchse but lost 26:20 in the end. They followed that result with another six-goal loss away to Skjern. 27:21 last Saturday.
The question is whether Vojvodina’s enthusiastic home crowd can help their local heroes claim their first points.
Balatonfüredi KSE (HUN) vs MT Melsungen (GER)
It will be two group phase debutants who meet in the Veszprém Arena Saturday afternoon.
However, it will also be two debutants who have got off to a very different start in the group.
Balatonfüredi began by losing as big as 31:19 at home to RK Nexe, before the Hungarian team got the first point through a 24:24 draw in Sweden against Eskilstuna Guif.
Melsungen, on the other hand, have two wins to show for themselves.
First, Eskilstuna were sent home with a four goal defeat. Then the Bundesliga team went to Croatia to defeat Nexe 28:25.
Melsungen also travel to Hungary as obvious favourites, but their dress rehearsal was not exactly great, as they lost 26:23 at home to Hamburg in the Bundesliga during the week.
“We must get to our play again for the game in Hungary in order to have success there,” Melsungen coach Michael Roth said.
RK Nexe (CRO) vs Eskilstuna Guif (SWE)
While Nexe have got two points out of their group phase campaign so far, Eskilstuna got their first EHF Cup point ever, as they drew 24:24 at home against Balatonfüredi last weekend.
Considering the course of the game, though, the Swedish team could not be satisfied with just one point in that game, but it is a big question, if they will be able to increase their number of points Nasice Saturday evening.
Usually, the Kralja Tomislava arena is a strong home ground for Nexe, and having lost their first home match to Melsungen, the Croatian team will be keen on taking their first home win of the group phase.
TEXT: Peter Bruun / cor
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