Second half begins with reverse matches
The matches this weekend will be the reverse of last weekend´s meetings, as the group phase of the Men’s EHF Cup moves into its second half and ehfTV.com have five of the eight games live!
In Group A, SC Magdeburg can take a major step towards winning the group with an victory win against Fraikin BM. Granollers, and it is the same for Bjerringbro-Silkeborg, who travel to Belarus to meet SKA Minsk in Group C.
Group B will see a genuine top match between HBC Nantes and Frisch Auf Göppingen, while Chambery Savoie Handball and Ystads IF can take important steps towards the quarter-finals if they beat Helvetia Anaitasuna and CSM Bucuresti respectively in their homes matches in Group D.
Dinamo Bucuresti (ROU) vs Aalborg Handball (DEN)
Saturday 5 March 15.30 (local time), live on ehfTV.com
An impressive comeback secured Dinamo a point in Denmark, as they managed to get a 28:28 draw despite being six goals down in the two teams’ first meeting last Saturday (27 February).
With three points, Dinamo are better off than their Danish adversaries ahead of the match in the Romeo Iamandi Saturday afternoon. With just one point after their first three matches – the point they got in the first meeting with Dinamo – Aalborg need to win their remaining three matches in the group phase in order to maintain just a theoretical chance to proceeding to the quarter-finals.
“We know the situation of course,” Aalborg playmaker Morten Slundt told eurohandball.com. “But I actually believe we can win if we play at our best all the way, and if we play wisely.”
Fraikin BM. Granollers (ESP) vs SC Magdeburg (GER)
Sunday 6 March 13.00 (local time), live on ehfTV.com
With two points after their three matches in the first half of the group phase, it is close to being the last chance for Granollers, if they are not going to suffer the same destiny they did last season, where they did not make it to the quarter-finals.
However, the current third-placed side in the Spanish Liga Asobal may have their troubles despite playing at home. While lying just 10th in the German Bundesliga, Magdeburg have been untouchable in the Men’s EHF Cup, with three straight wins.
Both teams have doubts about several players due to injury, and how many of those get fit for Sunday will play a deciding role.
OCI-LIONS (NED) vs Team Tvis Holstebro (DEN)
Saturday 5 March 19.30 (local time)
Team Tvis Holstebro are in a close race with Frisch Auf Göppingen and HBC Nantes for the two tickets for the quarter-finals, so a win away against the OCI-LIONS is a must for the current number one side in the Danish league.
Holstebro won the first meeting against the Dutch champions 29:24 at home, but the win was smaller than acceptable to Holstebro coach Patrick Westerholm.
“We only scored one goal in the last 15 minutes,” he said to eurohandball.com. “After the match, we all agreed that this was not acceptable. “I am sure that OCI-LIONS feel the group phase is a big experience and if they are to get any points, they know it will to be at home, so of course, we have to be fully focused and concentrated from the start.
“This is simply a match we have to win.”
HBC Nantes (FRA) vs Frisch Auf Göppingen (GER)
Sunday 6 March 19.00 (local time), live on ehfTV.com
Like Holstebro, those two teams both have four points after their first three matches, and after Goppingen’s narrow 27:26 in the teams’ first meeting last Sunday, a win is crucial for Nantes – who are hosts of the Men’s EHF Cup Finals, regardless of whether they qualify themselves or not.
The first match in Göppingen was equal most of the way, and the match in the Salle Sportive da la Trocardiere and Sunday is likely to be a repeat of that close encounter.
“We knew it would be difficult to win in Göppingen, but we need to improve in order to win at home,” said Nantes coach Thierry Anty.
Pfadi Winterthur (SUI) vs Saint-Raphael Var Handball (FRA)
Sunday 6 March 16.00 (local time)
When these two teams met in France last week, Saint-Raphael were leading by nine goals at half time and early in the second half as well, but they invited Winterthur into the game, and at the final buzzer, the scoreboard said 28:28.
That result meant the race for the second place in the group, behind Bjerringbro-Silkeborg, is now very close, with Saint-Raphael on three points, SKA Minsk on two and Winterthur with the point they got at Saint-Raphael.
A home win for the Swiss team will make the battle for the second position even closer, and Winterthur will not only have gained optimism from their comeback in France last Sunday – on Tuesday (1 March) they won the top-of-the-table clash in the Swiss league against ruling champions Kadetten Schaffhausen clearly, 29:19, so Saint-Raphael may be in for a challenge in the Eulachhalle on Sunday afternoon.
SKA Minsk (BLR) vs Bjerringbro-Silkeborg (DEN)
Sunday 6 March 19.00 (local time), live on ehfTV.com
Silkeborg have already established a clear lead in Group C, while it is close between Saint-Raphael Var Handball, Minsk and Pfadi Winterthur.
In fact, Silkeborg can secure the group win if they are victorious in Minsk Sunday evening, provided Pfadi Winterthur win at home against Saint Raphael.
“We are favourites to win the group now,” said Silkeborg coach Peter Bredsdorff-Larsen to eurohandball.com. “But we still need some more points to make sure we progress in the tournament, and we aim to get those in Minsk.
“Much will depend on which team has learned most from the first match (which Silkeborg won 32:26) and I am sure we will have to play even better than we did at home in order to win,” he continued. “However, we travel to Belarus with a good feeling and the intention to benefit from our good start to qualify for the quarter-finals already at this point.”
Ystads IF (SWE) vs CSM Bucuresti (ROU)
Saturday 5 March 13.30 (local time)
After their surprising 27:27 draw in Bucharest last Saturday, Ystad are currently in second position in the group, two points behind Chambery Savoie Handball.
Ystad coach Sebastian Seifert sees his team´s next two matches as key matches with regard to the chances of a quarter-final berth. “We meet CSM at home this Saturday and Chambery also at home two weeks later,” he said. “If we can win those two matches, things look very well regarding our chances to advance in the tournament.
“We played a good game in Romania last weekend, and I am sure we will need to play at least as well Saturday in order to win,” continued the Ystad coach who is particularly happy that his most famous player, right back Kim Andersson has started scoring goals again.
“With his huge experience, he is obviously a player whom his teammates can lean on in these European matches, and the fact that he is also scoring goals now instead of just providing assists, makes him even more valuable to us, of course.”
Chambery Savoie Handball (FRA) vs Helvetia Anaitasuna (ESP)
Saturday 5 March 20.30 local time, live on ehfTV.com
After their 28:22 win in Pamplona last Saturday, Chambery are favourites to take another win, when the Spanish side play in the return fixtures at Le Phare on Saturday night.
Chambery are currently leading the group with five points, and if they get another win against Anaitasuna, they can take a major step towards the quarter-finals and even the group win.
The situation is different for Anaitasuna.
After a brilliant start to the group phase with a six-goal win at home against CSM Bucuresti, the Spanish team lost away to Ystad and clearly at home against Chambery, so they will have to get some points again soon if their hope for the quarter-final is to stay alive.
TEXT: Peter Bruun/amc