GROUP PREVIEW: Undefeated Rostov-Don travel to Orleans to take on fellow new-comers, Fleury, while FTC lock horns with Larvik for second place.
Rostov and Larvik set for dangerous journeys
Women’s EHF Champions League main round action continues in Group 1, where Larvik and Rostov-Don are in for nasty away games at FTC and Fleury, respectively, while Thüringer will fight to keep their dreams of the knockout round alive against up-and-coming Baia Mare.
Ferencváros could have beaten Rostov-Don at home in Russia if their most dangerous attackers had at least an average day, but the team collapsed without the scoring performances of Zita Szucsanszki and Szandra Zacsik, who both finished without a goal.
The Hungarian champions let the first spot slip from their hands, having lost to Rostov and now they have to come up with a much improved performance to keep Larvik behind. The Norwegian team beat Thüringer easily in the first round but Gro Hammerseng-Edin and Co. have a much higher mountain to climb in Budapest.
The notorious home crowd of Ferencváros brings a new level of home court advantage to the Budapest greens, as Larvik hope to be the first team to leave the Hungarian capital with a win.
Larvik trail the Hungarian champions by one point, but Ferencváros are not going to give up on the second spot without a fight and some key players have a lot to prove after their mediocre performance last week.
Thüringer HC (GER) vs HCM Baia Mare (ROM)
Baia Mare broke their main round slump last week against Fleury and aim to continue their run of positive results against Thüringer, who sit last in Group 1.
The German roster started 2016 on a high but their excellent first half performance at Fleury was nullified and they went down against Larvik without a chance. Last year’s quarter-finalist are now in dire need of points and cannot afford to lose at home, so the clash against Baia Mare promises to be a crunch game for both sides.
With the magnificent Allison Pineau on board, Baia Mare hope to continue to climb up the standings and remain in the race for the knockout round, but they need Lois Abbingh and Alexandra Do Nascimento to take up where they left off against Fleury.
Thüringer are aware a home defeat would effectively end their hopes of the quarter-final and they are expected to fight hard to avoid relegation.
Fleury Loiret Handball (FRA) vs Rostov-Don (RUS)
Rostov-Don were far from convincing in the match against Ferencváros, but the heroics of Ekaterina Ilina and Katrine Lunde were enough to maintain their 100 percent record in the Women’s EHF Champions League. Fleury, however, have a more reliable back line than FTC and lately, the French champions are firing on all cylinders.
Fleury are undefeated at home and with the likes of Alexandrina Cabral Barbose, Gnonsiane Niombla and Estelle Nze Minko, they have a variable shooting compartment that could even cause problems to the talented, Katrine Lunde.
Rostov, who have the most effective defence in Group 1 after the first round, are ready to face fellow new-comers, Fleury, to further prove that talent is more important than experience. However, Rostov need to improve their attacks against Fleury’s compact wall if they want to remain undefeated.
TEXT: Bence Martha/tm
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