Three quarter-final spots still at stake
With one match day to go in the Women's EHF Cup Group Phase, all teams that progress to the next round from Groups A and B have already been named, and Rostov-Don are certain to win the Group C. Three other quarter-finalists are to be determined during the coming weekend and all six games of the Round 6 will be streamed live on ehfTV.com
• Nantes, Randers, Kuban, Brest and Rostov are already through to the quarter-finals
• Nothing is yet clear in Group D where Lada, NHF and Metzingen are level on six points
• Brest remain the only undefeated team in the group phase
• Katarina Krpez Slezak from ERD is the tournament's leading scorer with 43 goals
Nantes Loire Atlantique HB (FRA) vs IK Sävehof (SWE)
Sunday 12 February, 14:00 local time, live on ehfTV
A surprising home loss against Oldenburg ended Nantes' winning streak, yet did not prevent the French side from advancing to the quarter-finals. They still top the Group A and are certain to stay in first should they beat Sävehof.
The Swedish team has nothing to fight for - following their defeat in the regional derby in Randers last week, they lost their chance to go through to the next round. No matter how Sävehof play in Nantes, they will finish in third place, so the result is simply a matter of honour.
VfL Oldenburg (GER) vs Randers HK (DEN)
Sunday 12 February, 16:30 local time, live on ehfTV.com
Oldenburg had not claimed any points in four straight games, but then created a sensation by beating the group leader Nantes away by one goal. "I am extremely proud of my team. Everyone gave their best and has shown great fighting spirit," said the team's head coach Leszek Krowicki.
However, this win did not lift Oldenburg from the bottom of the group, and they are set to finish in the last place even if they beat Randers at home. The Danish team has already reached their goal - the two points taken against Sävehof secured them a quarter-final berth.
Alba Fehervar KC (HUN) vs HC Leipzig (GER)
Sunday 12 February, 15:00 local time, live on ehfTV.com
The Hungarian team may feel unfortunate - in the three previous rounds of games, they had fair chances to beat Brest in both fixtures and then Kuban at home, but every time could not keep pace for 60 minutes and earned just two points in those matches, which ended Fehervar's hope of progressing.
Now they are set to finish third in the group, so a victory against Leipzig may only sweeten this bitter pill. The German outsider, however, also harbour hopes of finally grabbing some points in the group phase. Last week, Leipzig had chances to do it against the somewhat complacent Brest, yet ultimately they came up short (23:20).
Kuban (RUS) vs Brest Bretagne Handball (FRA)
Sunday 12 February, 16:00 local time, live on ehfTV.com
Both teams can already be certain of advancing to the next stage, so their clash in Krasnodar will just determine the winner and the runner-up in the group. Only a home victory will put Kuban in the first place, and Brest are sure to stay top of the quartet in case of any other result.
The Russian side earned a quarter-final berth following their win in a difficult away game against Alba Fehervar. That was a favourable result for Brest, too, as the French team secured a spot in the next round even before they played (and ultimately beat) Leipzig.
Rostov-Don (RUS) vs Byasen Trondheim (NOR)
Saturday 11 February, 17:00 local time, live on ehfTV.com
Three of the four teams relegated from the EHF Champions League in autumn - HC Leipzig, IK Sävehof and Glassverket - have already lost chances to advance to the EHF Cup quarter-final. The happy exception is Rostov-Don, who are on eight points after five games and have secured the top place in the strong and competitive Group C.
The Russian team suffered their only group defeat in Trondheim, so now they have an opportunity to take revenge. Still Byasen are even more motivated as their place in the next round is at stake. However, even a victory in Russia may not suffice for them to finish runners-up - a draw between Bietigheim and ERD is needed as well; with both teams having an advantage over Byasen on head-to-head results.
SG BBM Bietigheim (GER) vs ERD HC (HUN)
Sunday 12 February, 15:00 local time
Just like Byasen, these two teams have four points after five games, so it will be a "do-or-die" match for them. Both Bietigheim and ERD basically need a victory to go through and join Rostov & Co in the quarter-final.
In case of a draw, ERD will have an edge as they have beaten Bietigheim at home in Round 2, but this scenario is favourable for the Hungarian outfit only if Byasen do not win in Rostov. A week ago, Bietigheim were on the verge of being eliminated, yet after three straight losses the team coached by Martin Albertsen beat Byasen in Norway and stayed in the race.
Glassverket (NOR) vs Handball Club Lada (RUS)
Saturday 11 February, 16:00 local time, live on ehfTV
Following six losses in as many games of the EHF Champions League, Glassverket continued their negative run in the EHF Cup where they have been yet unable to claim a victory.
With just two points after five matches, the Norwegian side has no chance left to advance to the next stage, so they have nothing to fight for in the last match against Lada.
The Russian side, however, are much more motivated. Being level on points with NFH and Metzingen, they need a positive result in Norway in order to take a place in the next round.
Now Lada gained momentum as they grabbed maximum points in two last games against Metzingen and NFH, so they hope to keep this good run.
NFH-Nykobing Falster Handboldklub (DEN) vs TuS Metzingen (GER)
Sunday 12 February, 15:00 local time
NFH started the group phase with two victories but slowed down afterwards as the two draws against Glassverket and a defeat in Togliatti have called their quarter-final berth into question.
Now the Danish team is second in the group after Metzingen, so the destiny of both teams will be decided in their match in Nykobing.
One thing is certain: the winner of this "final" will definitely go through to the next round. Outside of point, head-to-head results are the deciding factor in this tight Group D, the only group where no team has yet secured a quarter-final spot, so the weekend games should be exciting.
TEXT: Sergey Nikolaev / bc