Bietigheim and Rostov hungry for success
Ahead of the group phase of the Women's EHF Cup, Group C was labelled as one of the most competitive and so it was – eventually providing both finalists of the tournament. Rostov won both of their matches against Bietigheim then, and are now considered favourites to win the trophy, with the first leg taking place on Sunday and being shown live on ehfTV.com.
The teams faced each other in Group C of the group phase where Rostov won both times - 23:20 away and 34:24 at home
Bietigheim reached the Women’s EHF Cup Final in their maiden international season
Rostov are on an eight-game winning streak in the tournament
Bietigheim's Susann Müller is the second top scorer in the competition with 66 goals
FINAL, FIRST LEG
SG BBM Bietigheim (GER) vs Rostov-Don (RUS)
Sunday, 17.00 hrs local time, live on ehfTV.com
For Bietigheim, one dream has already come true. In their game against TSV Bayer 04 Leverkusen on Wednesday, they claimed their 24th win in as many Bundesliga matches - and with two games remaining, the team of Martin Albertsen were crowned German champions for the first time in history.
"It's a big title, the most important and honest one,” said their sports director Gerit Winnen. “We will carry this title for a lifetime, and will duly celebrate it.
“However, I can promise that we will be again in our best shape on Sunday in the Women’s EHF Cup Final, because this team is hungry.”
Reaching the final is already a milestone for the German side, who are in their first-ever international season and they have struggled at times, claiming just six points in the group phase.
However, they progressed to the play-offs, and in both the quarter-finals and semi-finals, strong home performances in the first leg matches provided a solid foundation for overall success as Albertsen's team swept away Kuban and NFH.
One of their trump cards is right back Susann Müller who has a great chance to become the competition's top scorer. With 66 goals currently, she is second in the scoring chart behind Nathalie Hagman, who has been eliminated with her team NFH.
Rostov's best scorer Alexandrina Cabral Barbosa has 48 goals, yet the Russian side boast several prolific scorers in their star-studded squad and following the arrival of head coach Frédéric Bougeant, they have put on an impressive performance on the European stage.
Under Bougeant's predecessor Jan Leslie, Rostov did not manage to survive in the ‘group of death’ in the Women’s EHF Champions League so the club, which are also hungry for success like Bietigheim, set the goal of winning the Women’s EHF Cup and have been steadily approaching it.
In that competitive Group C, they won five of their six matches, including both clashes against Bietigheim.
In the quarter-finals, Rostov beat Brest twice, and went on to smash Metzingen in the semi-final. Now the team are on an eight-game winning run in the competition and hope to develop their success in the final.
On Monday, Rostov beat Kuban in the semi-final of the Russian league, and they will play Lada Togliatti in the trophy game. Yet the team are fully focussed on another final.
"Lada is a good car brand, but now we pay more attention to German cars," joked Frederic Bougeant.
Rostov cannot rely on the Russian international Anna Vyakhireva who is ruled out until the end of the season due to injury.
"Many people thought that her absence would affect our game,” said Bougeant. “Luckily, it did not happen because all our players get time on the court. Everyone is ready to play and replace each other.”
TEXT: Sergey Nikolaev/amc