|11.10.2016, 19:44||◄ last page|
GROUP A PREVIEW: Veszprém vs Kiel and PSG vs Flensburg in the focus in round 4, while BSV have their third straight home match
Barcelona aim to increase lead as chasing pack collide
FC Barcelona are the only team in Group A of the VELUX EHF Champions League with a 100% winning record so far. In Round 4, the Catalans are expected to be favourites against Schaffhausen and as the four teams hunting them face in direct duels, the record winners of the EHF Champions League can extend the gap at the top.
FC Barcelona Lassa (ESP ) vs Kadetten Schaffhausen (SUI)
Three wins from three matches vs zero points in the same period - the roles are clearly marked in the Round 4’s opener on Wednesday. In their previous two matches, FC Barcelona have closely beaten Kiel and Flensburg to top the table, while Kadetten stood little chance against Veszprém and PSG.
The Catalans have won all four encounters against the Swiss champions so far, a four-goal margin was the closest Schaffhausen could come so far. Currently, Schaffhausen are the only team without any points in this group - and again they are the underdogs.
Telekom Veszprém (HUN) vs THW Kiel (GER)
In April 2013, THW were the last away team to win a Champions League match at the Veszprém Arena - but have since lost three of the last four duels against the Hungarian side, including the 2015 and 2016 semi-finals at the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in Cologne.
Exactly 364 days ago, both sides faced in the Veszprém lion’s den for the last time, with a happy end for the hosts (29:27). The overall balance is level at seven wins each.
It will be interesting to see, how the Veszprém fans welcome Christian Zeitz, who played for the hosts in the last two seasons, before he re-joined Kiel this summer. Two former Kiel players are still key figures in the Veszprém squad: Momir Ilic and Aron Palmarsson.
Veszprém dropped a clear lead in their previous match at Plock to take the second tie in this group phase after the opener against Flensburg. Though the hosts are still unbeaten, they are level on points with Kiel, as THW had beaten PSG and Bjerringbro, but lost at Barcelona.
While Veszprém count on experienced players, Kiel’s new stars are the young guns Lukas Nilsson and Nikola Bilyk. A special focus of this match will the duel of the two top goalkeeper pairs Mirko Alilovic/Roland Mikler (Veszprém) and Niklas Landin/Andreas Wolff (Kiel).
Bjerringbro-Silkeborg (DEN) vs. Orlen Wisla Plock (POL)
For the third straight time in the fourth round, Bjerringbro have the home right on their side - and this time the Danish champions hope for their first home win after relatively close losses against Flensburg and Kiel.
The only points, BSV took so far occurred in Schaffhausen. As the two opponents are the main contenders for the sixth Last 16 spot in this group, the significance of this duel is extremely high.
Plock will arrive in Denmark full of confidence after their draw against Veszprém, secured by their so far best player, goalkeeper Rodrigo Corrales. The fans in Silkeborg will see the first duel between these sides on international ground.
Paris Saint-Germain Handball (FRA) vs. SG Flensburg-Handewitt (GER) - Match of the Week
SG Flensburg-Handewitt were the first big club to be coached by current PSG coach Noka Serdarusic in the 1990s, so like their encounter against Kiel those duels will be something special for Serdarusic.
After their opening defeat at Kiel, Paris could rehearse for the Match of the Week with more straightforward games against Plock and Schaffhausen. New arrival Uwe Gensheimer has perfectly adapted to the squad, topping the scorers list with 23 goals after three matches.
Another special part of this top clash will be the duel of Flensburg’s Frenchman Kentin Mahe against at least four teammates from the national team, with whom he took the silver medal at the Olympic Games at Rio - Thierry Omeyer, Daniel Narcisse, Luka Karabatic and Luc Abalo. Nikola Karabatic is still ruled out by his knee injury, which occurred at the match at Plock.
In addition, four Danish Olympic champions will clash: Hansen and Möllgaard for the hosts vs Lasse Svan and Henrik Toft Hansen for SG.
In the previous season, both sides each won their home matches and Flensburg now have another chance to end their curse of never winning a EHF Champions League match in France.
TEXT: Björn Pazen / cor