ROUND PREVIEW: Four team still have the chance to take on the two last quarter-final berths in Group 2 of the main round in the Women´s EHF Champions League.
Four teams fighting for two quarter-final tickets
While Larvik and and Györi Audi ETO KS have booked two of the four tickets for the quarter-finals from Group 2, four other teams are still left with bigger or smaller chances to take the last two positions among the last eight in the competition.
Even IK Sävehof, who are last in the group with only three points, actually still have a chance to proceed, but the first condition is a home win against Metz Handball who need a win in order to keep up their own quarter-final hopes.
Larvik, who became Norwegian champions for the 17th time this week, are already sure to win the group, but a certain prestige is always at stake in a Scandinavian neighbour derby like the away game against Viborg who cannot feel sure of the quarter-finals yet. Neither can HCM Baia Bare who are visiting second place Györ.
IK Sävehof (SWE) vs Metz Handball (FRA)
Even though Sävehof are last in the group with only three points, they still have a theoretical chance to qualify for the quarter-finals. The first condition is that the Swedish champions win their last two matches – Saturday at home against Metz and away against Larvik on the last match day.
The second condition is that Baia Mare cannot get any more points, and Metz cannot get more than two more points.
Sävehof can take the first step by defeating on Metz Saturday afternoon in Partillebohallen by Gothenburg.
To Metz, it is beginning to be the last call, if the French champions are still to make it into those quarter-finals, they seemed to be heading for after the group phase.
However, a terrible main round with four successive defeats, including a 25:22 defeat at home against Sävehof have put Metz under heavy pressure, and a further defeat in Sweden Saturday afternoon may be fatal.
Larvik are travelling to Viborg as Norwegian champions for the 17th time in a row. A 35:21 win at home against Kongsberg Wednesday secured the record champions the first place in their national league once again.
Another first place, Larvik are sure of, is the first place in Group 2 of the Champions League main round, so head coach Ole Gustav Gjekstad's team does really not have anything else at stake than the prestige which will always characterise a neighbour duel like the one in Viborg Stadionhal on Sunday afternoon.
The situation is somewhat different for Viborg who cannot feel sure to qualify for the quarter-finals yet, even though they are currently third in the group with seven points.
The Danish champions and their new coach Lars Friis Hansen are keen on removing the last percentage of doubt on Sunday.
“I think we have a good chance against Larvik who may not be at 100% having nothing really at stake.
“It would mean a lot to us not only to make our quarter-final qualification absolutely certain, but also to make sure to finish third instead of fourth,” Lars Friis Hansen told ehfCL.com.
Baia Mare have performed great lately under their new coach Tone Tiselj, and from a next to hopeless position at the start of the main round, the Romanian champions have brought themselves quite close to the quarter-finals.
They may even be able to afford a defeat in the Audi Arena of Györ Sunday evening and still make it all clear with a home win against Viborg on the last match day.
Tone Tiselj's ladies may very well have to rely on their last match to make their quarter-final berth complete, as Györ cannot be expected to relax, even though they are sure to qualify for the quarter-finals from second position in the group.
TEXT: Peter Bruun / br
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