ROUND PREVIEW: The first quarter-finalists in the Men's EHF Cup will be found in the second last round of the group phase this weekend. Frisch Auf Göppingen may even qualify directly for the LIQUI MOLY EHF CUP FINALS, of which the German club is organiser.
Six matches of penultimate round streamed live on ehfTV
The tension in the group phase of the Men's EHF Cup is so big this season that no quarter-finalists have been found yet.
Some teams will make the cut this weekend, though, when the second last round is being played. Not fewer than six games will be shown live on the ehfTV.com.
Frisch-Auf Göppingen, who are hosting the LIQUI MOLY EHF CUP FINALS are even close to proceeding directly to that final tournament.
As GOG won the first match against Saint-Raphael 36:32 in France, another win will be enough for the Danish team to be sure to finish second in the group. This many not be enough to send them to the quarter-finals, though.
In case, Frisch Auf Göppingen qualify directly for the Finals, the poorest number two in the group phase will be eliminated.
In case of a win against Saint-Raphael, GOG will be on six points, which is not likely to be enough to avoid being the lowest ranking number two.
Therefore, another win next weekend away against RD Riko Ribnica will probably be necessary for GOG.
For Saint-Raphael, at least a five-goal win will probably be needed in order to be sure of the second place, and the French side will also need a home win against Füchse Berlin on the last match day in order to be relatively sure to proceed.
Füchse are still in theoretical danger of losing the first place in the group at the end, and eight points may not be enough for proceed from second position.
However, for this to happen, Füchse will have to lose their last two group matches, at home against Ribnica this Sunday and away against Saint-Raphael next weekend.
In fact, just one point at home in the Max-Schmeling-Halle Sunday will be enough for the Bundesliga side to secure the group win and make sure to reach the quarter-final.
The European debutants from Ribnica have yet to achieve their first point in the group phase, and the Slovenian team is one out of only three clubs who are without even a theoretical chance to reach the next round.
This should make Füchse huge favourites to clinch their quarter-final berth already Sunday.
Being on only two points, both teams are in desperate need of a win in order to keep just a frail quarter-final hope alive.
However, even a win may not be enough for any of them.
Even if one of them finish second, six points may not be enough for a ticket for the quarter-final, if Göppingen qualify directly for the Finals and reduce the number of quarter-finals to three.
However, quarter-final chance or not, the match will be special to Midtjylland line player Oliver Bondrup.
He will have his own fan group, consisting of his family members supporting him and his teammates Saturday evening in the Dragao Caixa.
Fraikin BM. Granollers (ESP) vs Frisch Auf Göppingen (GER)
Just one point for Göppingen in Spain Sunday evening, and they are in the LIQUI MOLY EHF Cup Finals. As organisers of the final tournament, they can skip the quarter-finals, if they win their group or finish among the three best second placed teams in the group phase.
A draw for Göppingen against Granollers will remove any doubt.
In that case, they will be sure to win the group and proceed directly to the finals on home ground.
However, it may not be an easy job for Göppingen in the Palau d'Esports.
In the first meeting between the two teams, Granollers went ahead 6:0, before Göppingen got started and earned a 29:28 win at the end.
Furthermore, Granollers, who were in the Finals last season, have a lot at stake. A defeat Sunday may make it very hard for them to even reach the quarter-finals and maintain the chance of copying last season's achievement.
While group phase debutants Maccabi Tel Aviv are sure to be eliminated after their last two group matches, there is everything in it for Tatabanya.
In case of a win in Tel Aviv, the Hungarian side will make sure to finish in one of the two top positions in the group and take a huge step towards the quarter-finals.
However, Tatabanya only won by three, 27:24, in the first group match between the two teams, and the Israeli champions will undoubtedly be eager to erase the zero in their points account.
A win in the Bördelandhalle will secure Magdeburg access to the quarter-finals.
They may still not be one hundred per cent sure to win the group, but nine points will be enough to reach the quarter-finals even from second position.
The only point Magdeburg have lost so far in the tournament, was exactly against Kolding Kobenhavn, as the first meeting in Kolding ended 23:23.
The Danish team will have win in Magdeburg and at home against Tel Aviv in the last match, while either Tatabanya or Magdeburg cannot get any more points.
In their efforts to cling the to this weak hope, Kolding are even handicapped by missing injured left wing Magnus Landin, while left back Antonio Garcia has left for FC Barcelona with immediate effect.
S. L. Benfica (POR) vs MT Melsungen (GER)
Just like two other German teams, Füchse and Magdeburg, Melsungen can secure their quarter-final berth already this weekend.
A German win in Lisbon Saturday afternoon, and Melsungen have won the group, while a win for Benfica will open up the group completely.
Both teams being on six points before the match, Benfica will obviously take the first place in case of a win, but as Melsungen won the first match as clearly as 32:22, the Portuguese team are likely to need a win of at least 11 goals to secure the group win.
Melsungen travel to Portugal with confidence after a convincing 30:23 away win against VfL Gummersbach in the Bundesliga during the week.
“That match was perfect preparation for this upcoming EHF Cup match,” Melsungen coach Michael Roth told his club's website.
Being one of the three teams in the group phase still without any points, Cocks are sure to end their European adventure with the end of the group phase.
In case of a win of at least seven goals Sunday, the Finnish champions will still have a theoretical chance of at least escaping the last place in the group, but apart from this, they only have the honour at stake.
The visitors have much more to fight for.
Currently, Anaitasuna are third with four points, but a win in Finland and another victory at home against Benfica on the last match day will give the Spanish club a very good chance to proceed to the quarter-finals.
TEXT: Peter Bruun / br
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