GROUP A PREVIEW: The highlight of Round 3, Flensburg against Barcelona, throws off on Wednesday, and Plock and Schaffhausen fight on home court for their first points
Unbeaten former Champions League winners clash at Flensburg
Three teams of the ‘death group’ of the VELUX EHF Champions League are unbeaten after two rounds, and two of them face each other on Wednesday when Flensburg host Barcelona. The third, Veszprém, have the high hurdle at Plock, while Kiel and PSG are on away missions, too.
SG Flensburg-Handewitt (GER) vs FC Barcelona Lassa (ESP)
Both sides faced each other three times in 2014, and though Barcelona won two of them, they still are disappointed about the third duel.
In the semi-final in Cologne, they gave a six-goal lead away and were beaten in the first ever penalty shoot-out of the VELUX EHF FINAL4. The story continued with the “flensational” Champions League triumph of the Vranjes side.
Now, both sides are on top of Group A - Barcelona (eight-time champions) as the only team with the maximum four points after their lucky win against Kiel; Flensburg one point behind after a draw against Veszprém and the win at BSV.
“I am sure that our fans can cause an atmosphere which will carry our team to another success,” Flensburg manager Dierk Schmäschke says.
“We want to turn it around after we lost our last home duel against the Champions League record winners in 2014,” Schmäschke says, referring to the 33:37 defeat.
The only time his club beat Barcelona on home ground so far, was in the 2007 quarter-finals (31:21), when SG finally made it to the finals against Kiel.
Three players on each team, who were on court in the Olympic final in Rio, will meet again in the Flens Arena: Danish gold medallists Lasse Svan, Henrik Toft Hansen (both Flensburg) and Jesper Noddesbö (Barcelona), as well as French silver medallists Kentin Mahe (Flensburg), Timothy N’Guessan and Cedric Sorhaindo (both Barcelona).
Orlen Wisla Plock (POL) vs Telekom Veszprém (HUN)
The Orlen Arena in Plock is a very special place for Veszprém: After their 27:27 draw in their opening match of the 2015/16 season, the later-on Champions League finalists and their former coach Carlos Antonio Ortega went separate ways.
First, Javier Sabate was the interim solution, now the Spaniard is the official successor of his former boss.
Having that result mind, unbeaten Veszprém will be eager to take another revenge like in the 27:25 win on home ground against the Polish runners-up.
The hosts are truly disappointed. They had the top flights Barcelona and PSG in their first matches _ and had the chance to beat both.
But in both encounters, Plock lacked alternatives from the bench and the power in the final stages.
Kadetten Schaffhausen (SUI) vs Paris Saint-Germain Handball (FRA)
Kadetten clearly improved after their opener against Bjerringbro but still left the Veszprém arena empty-handed. As Paris have a shaky start in their Champions League season with a defeat at Kiel and a hard-earned win against Plock, the Swiss champions hope for a major surprise in the first ever duel of both sides.
Again, like in the match at Veszprém, Schaffhausen’s playmaker Gabor Csaszar will face a former club, as he played in Paris before joining Kadetten.
German PSG newcomer Uwe Gensheimer will get pretty near to his hometown of Mannheim, as Schaffhausen is much closer than Kiel or Flensburg for example.
It will be interesting to see, whether shooting star Nedim Remili will have another brilliant day. Against Plock, he netted ten times.
Bjerringbro-Silkeborg (DEN) vs THW Kiel (GER)
There will be another warm welcome for Danish Olympic gold medallists. After Lasse Svan and Hendrik Toft Hansen had been playing (and winning) with Flensburg last Sunday, now Rene Toft Hansen and Niklas Landin will face BSV on their ground, this time at Silkeborg.
After 40 strong minutes against Flensburg (19:25), now the Danish champions are in a similar role – and hope to stand the pressure for a longer period.
Kiel gave a possible win away at Barcelona after being ahead for a long time.
Like against Flensburg, it is BSV’s first ever encounter against Kiel - and again a huge number of THW supporters will make the short journey just across the border.
The chances to take the first home win of this season seem to be quite limited for the Danes.
TEXT: Björn Pazen / ew / bc
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