ROUND PREVIEW: Hamburg and Füchse are chasing revenge on home court against Haslum and Skjern.
Favourites seeking revenge as EHF Cup reverses
The latest match day meant the end to the Bundesliga dominance in the group phase of the Men's EHF Cup, as HSV Hamburg lost away to Haslum Handballklubb in Group A, and Füchse Berlin had to leave Denmark with a defeat to Skjern in Group C.
Both German teams will be seeking revenge on home ground, as the second half of the group phase launches this weekend with reverse matches of last weekend's games. Two of the eight matches will be shown live on ehfTV.com and all matches can be also followed on the live ticker.
HSV Hamburg (GER) vs Haslum Handballklubb (NOR)
Haslum probably performed the largest sensation in the group phase so far, when they defeated Hamburg 34:32 at home on Sunday.
The VELUX EHF Champions League winners from 2013 had definitely not calculated on losing any points in Norway, and the North German will undoubtedly be keen on revenging the defeat, when they receive the Norwegian champions in the Sporthall Hamburg on Saturday afternoon.
Not only do Hamburg need a win in order to regain their self-confidence, but just as important to stay top of the group, while Haslum will obviously be chasing further points in their hope to reach the quarter-finals which was boosted by the surprise win on Sunday.
With their 35:26 win in Switzerland on Sunday, Velenje took a major step towards the quarter-finals, and the Slovenian side can take an even bigger step towards the last eight in case of a further victory Sunday evening, in which they are obvious favourites after their big away win.
However, Pfadi Winterthur have taken their only win in the group phase exactly on away ground, as they won 27:23 against Haslum on the first match – and as the Swiss outfit are almost facing their last call with regards to a quarter-final berth, they are likely to go all in in the Rdeca Dvorana on Sunday.
HCM Constanta (ROU) vs Fraikin BM Granollers (ESP)
Having only achieved one point in their first three matches of the group phase, Constanta are under pressure with regards to qualifying for the quarter-finals, as the two top spots are already four points away.
Through their 23:21 win at home, Granollers got on five points just as Team Tvis Holstebro in the top of the group, and with another win the City Hall of Constanta Sunday morning, the Spanish team can almost book the ticket for the quarter-final already.
However, it was a close match in Spain on Saturday, and as Constanta are in desperate need of a win, the Romanian champions must be expected to give their visitors a tough fight.
St. Petersburg HC (RUS) vs Team Tvis Holstebro (DEN)
St. Petersburg and Holstebro are waiting until Monday evening to play their remake of their meeting in Denmark on Saturday.
The first meeting between the two teams was an equal affair, in which St. Petersburg were leading several times, even in the second half, before the Danish hosts decided the matter and won 28:24 which sent them on top of the group.
Considering the equal first match, Holstebro may be facing a challenge keeping their first place, when they are visiting the Arena St. Petersburg, where the home team are in urgent need of points in order to keep their quarter-final dreams alive, having only got one point this far.
Futebol Clube do Porto (POR) vs HC Vojvodina (SRB)
Through their strong finish, Porto got their first win in the group phase, as they defeated Vojvodina 29:27 on Sunday.
This obviously gives the Portuguese team a great chance to double their number of points, when the Serbian champions are visiting the Dragao Caixa of Porto on Saturday evening.
Vojvodina are the only team in the entire group phase who are still on zero points, and it is a big question, if they will manage to change this fact in this match.
Skjern provided a substantial surprise last Saturday, as they defeated Füchse 32:28 at home in the Skjern Bank Arena, and even after having been up with six goals several times.
Sunday evening in the Max-Schmeling-Halle in Berlin, the Foxes will not only be hungry for revenge for this rather humiliating defeat, but also for getting back the first place in the group, which they lost to exactly Skjern through the defeat in Denmark on Saturday.
However, if one is to believe Skjern left wing Bjarke Kristensen, Füchse should expect no easy task on Sunday.
“We are full of self-confidence, and we have every reason to be. We are really looking forward to the Sunday game,” he said.
MT Melsungen (GER) vs Balatonfüredi KSE (HUN)
Melsungen had no problems securing a 30:24 away win, when the two teams first met in Hungary, and the Bundesliga side obviously appear as huge favourites in the reverse match in the Rothenbach-Halle in Kassel on Saturday night.
While Melsungen are leading the group clearly with maximum points after their first three matches, the visitors have only got one point so far, and it will be very difficult for them to get any further points in Germany against a confident home team.
“If we can work just as consequently in our defence, as we did in the first match, nothing should stand in the way of a further success,” as Melsungen's Serbian centre back Nenad Vuckovic put it.
Eskilstuna Guif (SWE) vs RK Nexe (CRO)
In their two latest matches, Eskilstuna have achieved their first two EHF Cup points ever through two draws, the latest of which was the 29:29 away against Nexe this past Saturday. When the two teams meet again in the Eskilstuna Sporthall, the only Swedish team in the competition will therefore obviously be chasing the first win in an EHF Cup group match ever.
A win will also let them take over the second place in the group from Nexe, who are currently on three points, and bring them a big step closer to the quarter-finals.
Nexe, on the other hand, can take an ever bigger step towards the knock-out matches in case of a win in Sweden.
TEXT: Peter Bruun / br
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