ROUND PREVIEW: No team managed to win big enough to rest on their first leg victories ahead of the second leg of the Men's EHF Cup quarter-finals.
Sunday will reveal EHF Cup finalists
All three teams playing the first leg at home won the first quarter-final match and will travel with a lead to their adversaries in the second leg on Sunday, 19 April. However, none of them can feel safe to reach the Men's EHF Cup finals in Berlin.
Gorenje Velenje obviously have the smallest lead, being one goal up before visiting Team Tvis Holstebro for a match being shown live on ehfTV.com. Eskilstuna can not rest on their three-goal victory from the first leg either before going to Hamburg, and not even Skjern Handbold can be sure that their five goal lead will be enough in the return game against MT Melsungen.
Men's EHF Cup quarter-finals, Leg 2
Team Tvis Holstebro (DEN) vs Rk Gorenje Velenje (SLO)
Being only one goal up, Gorenje Velenje are obviously facing a tough challenge in the Graakjaer Arena of Holstebro on Sunday at 13:00 hrs local time.
However, things could have looked even gloomier for the Slovenian team, as they were down by five in the second half of their home game in the first leg.
Therefore, Holstebro's coach Klavs Bruun Jørgensen has migled feelings when he thinks of the quarter-final against Velenje.
"I am still annoyed that we did not win the first match – and even though we are -of course - in a good position, we still expect a very difficult match again on Sunday," says Jørgensen who had to enter the court in Slovenia himself due to heavy injury trouble in his team.
"For the return match, Simon Birkefeldt will be fit again, but that does not rule out the risk that I might have to play again. This time maybe as the playmaker as Jakob Green suffers from back problems since that trip to Slovenia," the 41-year-old coach tells eurohandball.com
MT Melsungen (GER) vs Skjern Handbold (DEN)
Even though Skjern is the team with the clearest lead ahead of the second leg, line player Thomas Klitgaard still sees Melsungen as favourites before the two teams meet in the Rothenbach-Halle in Kassel on Sunday at 16:30 hrs local time.
"I still see them as narrow favourites. Five goals is not a lot in handball these days, and the Rothenbach-Halle is a very difficult place to play for any away team," says the 37-year-old who knows what he is talking about, having played in Melsungen himself from 2007 to 2010.
"After giving us 40% chance ahead of the first leg, I might give us 45% now," Thomas Klitgaard tells eurohandball.com.
Melsungen coach Michael Roth knows that there is more to it than just making a good game in order to proceed to the final.
"This five goal deficit is quite a lot, but it is possible to catch up with it. To do so, we will need the support from as many fans as possible in Kassel," Michael Roth told his club´s website.
HSV Hamburg (GER) vs Eskilstuna Guif (SWE)
If a five-goal lead - like Skjern have ahead of the second leg against Melsungen - is not a lot, Eskilstuna's three goal lead from the first match against Hamburg is just a drop in the bucket.
Eskilstuna's coach Kristjan Andresson admits that three goals are not a lot to travel to Hamburg with, but he is still fairly optimistic.
"At least we are leading, and we did very well in the home game. But I believe we can do even better in Hamburg on Sunday. Probably, that will be needed
"Obviously, we would like to go to Berlin for the EHF Cup Finals but Hamburg are still the favourites," Andresson tells eurohandball.com.
TEXT: Peter Bruun / me
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