Tension is building: four talking points after Round 8
It is crunch time in Groups C/D of the VELUX EHF Champions League 2018/19. With only two rounds left, seven teams are still in the running for the four play-off places after some magnificent wins and surprising results in Round 8.
In Groups A/B, two teams seem to be unstoppable, while others are trying to save their season with six rounds still to be played.
Here are four talking points after Round 8:
Excitement is an understatement in Groups C/D
With just two rounds remaining, tension is building. No team has yet secured a spot in the group phase knockout, and no less than seven teams have still a change to do so. There is a three-horse in Group C, and even four teams in the mix in Group D.
Tatran Presov’s win against Bjerringbro-Silkeborg has turned the battle for top spot in Group C into a deadlock. With both teams on 12 points, and Sporting CP as well, the two knockout spots can still be anyone’s.
The excitement is also tangible in Group D, after Elverum Handball’s buzzer-beating win against Dinamo Bucuresti, 29:28. Orlen Wisla Plock (12 points) and Abanca Ademar Leon (11) are in the driving seats, but Elverum and Dinamo (10 each) can still jump onto the coveted top-two spots.
So yes, as the Norwegian side puts it, handball is fantastic!
Håndball er fantastisk! Vi vinner en superspennende kamp mot Dinamo Bucuresti på en deiligst mulig måte. Vi har fortsatt muligheter til å gå videre i @ehfcl.— ElverumHandball (@ElverumHandball) November 18, 2018
The defending champions are still alive
It took them eight rounds, but reigning champions Montpellier HB have finally stopped the bleeding. And what a win, 31:26 against Rhein-Neckar Löwen in Group A, only a few days after losing by 10 goals in their previous encounter.
This is how you do your homework.
[@ehfcl - J8] #InstantLive— Montpellier Handball (@mhbofficiel) November 14, 2018
😍 Première victoire pour le @mhbofficiel qui s'impose face à @RNLoewen pour le premier match retour de #LigueDesChampions 💙
🔚 @mhbofficiel 🆚 @RNLoewen : 31-26 pic.twitter.com/MmsinLpinz
Veszprém avoid historic defeat
Speaking of turning things around in Group A, that was also vital for Telekom Veszprém HC, after their loss against IFK Kristianstad in Round 7.
This time the Hungarian side won (36:27), and, thanks to excellent work by goalkeeper Arpad Sterbik once more, avoided their third defeat in a row. That would have equalled their worst-ever run in the competition.
Veszprém might not be in contention for the first spot, but they seem to be cruising comfortably into the Last 16 despite hitting rocky waters.
It's hard to believe anyone could have featured more in our highlights clips than king Sterbik 👑 Here are some of the keeper's best saves of the first half in @mkbveszpremkc's match vs @IFKKristianstad #veluxehfcl pic.twitter.com/aE5GvycJ0Q— EHF Champions League (@ehfcl) November 17, 2018
Special form for Barça and PSG
We are into the second half of Groups A/B and two teams seem to be in a special form.
Paris Saint-Germain HB are the only team in the competition with full house. They kept their 100% record in Group B by defeating SG Flensburg-Handewitt for the second time in four days, this time 27:20 away from home.
In Group A, Barça Lassa are on a seven-game winning streak, after beating HC Vardar for the second time in a week (34:26). Barça lost in the first round but have since been unstoppable, showing a great team performance. It can be described the best by Aron Palmarsson’s game, where his only goal on the score sheet did not justice to his magnificent performance.