ROUND PREVIEW: Russian and Danish team are going to take the final step into the Women's EHF Cup semi-finals this weekend.
Rostov-Don and Holstebro to finish the job
Two teams seem to be absolutely certain to qualify for the semi-finals of the Women's EHF Cup before the second leg of the quarter-finals this weekend.
Rostov-Don, who extended their contract with Danish head coach Jan Leslie this week, are being 18 goals ahead after the first leg of the entirely Russian tie against Astrakhanochka, which Rostov-Don won 37:19 at home. Although strange things sometimes happen in handball, the return match in Astrakhan Saturday seems to be a formality.
Holstebro, who won the competition in 2013, are leading by 13 goals after winning 40:27 at home on Sunday, so it seems more than difficult for the French team to turn the tides in this tie.
On Wednesday night, Team Esbjerg could celebrate winning the Danish league for the first time in history, but Sunday night they will have to be back at work, as they need to catch up with an eight-goal deficit against Érd HC, who won the first leg at home in Hungary as clearly as 28:20.
Esbjerg, who reached the final of the competition last year, have large ambitions in Europe again this season, but head coach Lars Frederiksen realises that the performance in the Blue Water Dokken in Esbjerg Sunday will have to be much better than the one in Hungary, if his team is going to stay in the tournament.
“Of course it will be difficult, but we have been in this situation before. Last year we lost by seven goals away to Russian Volgograd and managed to win by nine at home.
“There is a big difference between East European teams playing at home and away, and especially as we know that we can play much better, there is hope. However, eight goals is a lot to catch up with,” Lars Frederiksen said.
The narrowest margin in the quarter-finals is to be found in the tie between Buxtehuder SV and Muratpasa Belediye SK.
Buxtehude won the home game in Germany 31:25 and are therefore favourites to also take the aggregate win before the return match in Antalya, Turkey on Saturday afternoon.
However, Muratpasa coach Birol Unsal has great confidence in the support of the home crowd in the second leg.
“Our hall has a capacity of 1,300 spectators, but they make a noise like 5,000,” Unsal said.
TEXT: Peter Bruun / br
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