|16.11.2016, 10:50||◄ last page|
GROUP A PREVIEW: Kiel host neighbours Flensburg in the Match of the Week and PSG play Veszprém as four out of the top-five teams meet each other in Round 7.
Northern German derby electrifies Europe as MOTW
The group stage of the VELUX EHF Champions League reaches half-time with Round 7 – and the same pairings will take place in the next round again.
In Group A, four of the five top teams face in direct duels. Highlight is the ‘mother of all derbies’, Kiel against Flensburg, which the Match of the Week on ehfTV.com. Also, PSG will be tested by the 2016 Champions League finalists Veszprém after taking the lead in this group. Barcelona are favourites at Silkeborg, while Plock and Kadetten duel for crucial points in the race for the Last 16.
Orlen Wisla Plock (POL) vs Kadetten Schaffhausen (SUI)
The Polish runners-up face the Swiss champions for the first time in an official competition. Plock’s confidence has been strongly boosted by their sensational win against Kiel in Round 6.
On the other hand, Kadetten have clearly improved their level of performance since the start of the season but still stand with the backs against the walls, waiting for their first point. Last week, they were highly close to it but unluckily lost at Flensburg.
In they win against Schaffhausen while Bjerringbro loses on Sunday, Plock can enjoy the psychological advantage of taking the sixth position for the first time this season.
After the draw against Veszprém and the victory against Kiel, they have proved their strength in the Orlen Arena.
For the Polish side it is the first of six crucial duels with the supposed direct opponents for the Last 16 spot, while Kadetten have already lost their home match against BSV.
Kadetten’s new arrival Michal Szyba will face a huge number of Polish compatriots.
Bjerringbro-Silkeborg (DEN) vs FC Barcelona Lassa (ESP)
Once again fans in Denmark will be served a delicious handball meal with Danish ingredients on the visitor’s side: After Flensburg, Kiel and PSG brought several Danish Olympic champions with them, now Champions League record winners FC Barcelona come to Silkeborg, including Olympic champion Jesper Noddesbo and talent Lasse Andersson, who played for KIF until last season.
Both sides lost in Round 6. While Bjerringbro were an extremely hard nut to be cracked by Veszprém, Barcelona were chanceless at Paris as they suffered their first defeat in all competitions this season.
The Catalan team face some injury problems as Filip Jicha and Cedric Sorhaindo have been ruled out for some weeks, but they still are in the favourites’ position.
The last time Barcelona lost a match on a Danish court was the 2012 quarter-final at the Bröndby football arena against AGK.
Telekom Veszprém (HUN) vs Paris Saint-Germain Handball (FRA)
Both powerhouses have locked horns in each of the previous three seasons. In April 2014 and again a year later, Veszprém eliminated PSG in the quarter-finals.
Last season, Paris took their first ever win against the Hungarian record champions in the group phase. Both sides reached their dream destination Cologne but did not win the trophy.
The last weeks have been different for both sides. After their opening defeat at Kiel, Paris won all five following matches to take top spot in the group by beating Barcelona last Saturday.
Veszprém were defeated by Barcelona and had enormous problems to beat Bjerringbro in Round 6. Still, the team of coach Javier Sabate are only two points below the leading duo of PSG and Barcelona.
Veszprém’s player who probably knows PSG best is new arrival Dragan Gajic. The Slovenian has faced Paris several times in crucial matches with his former French club Montpellier.
But even he never faced Paris’ rising star Nedim Remili, who was the top scorer against Barcelona to raise his tally to 35 goals, just four short of his teammate Uwe Gensheimer.
MOTW: THW Kiel (GER) vs SG Flensburg-Handewitt (GER)
For the 90th time (in all competitions) the northern German rivals will duel. Their last encounter, in the Bundesliga last Sunday, became a true thriller as Anders Eggert missed a penalty on the final buzzer, securing Kiel’s 24:23 victory.
It ended Flensburg’s record nine-match winning streak, while Kiel overtook their rivals on top of the standings.
Mainly thanks to 25 saves by goalkeeper Andreas Wolff, it was Kiel’s win No. 54 in the derby. Now, within four days, Flensburg have the chance twice in the Champions League to take revenge and earn their 32nd win against Kiel.
The international record between the teams include seven victories for Kiel, one draw, and four wins for Flensburg.
Last season, Kiel and Flensburg also duelled in the group phase with each team winning their home match.
Already twice - in 2007 and 2014 - this pairing was the setting for the Champions League finals, and while Kiel took the trophy in the first encounter, Flensburg stroke back seven years later.
The match is also the Toft Hansen brother duel with Henrik wearing the Flensburg jersey and Rene playing for Kiel.
Former THW left back Rasmus Lauge has just returned for Flensburg after meniscus surgery, making it three former Kiel players – Lauge as well as Mattias Andersson and Tobias Karlsson – to arrive at their former club.
On the other hand, Blazenko Lackovic and Steffen Weinhold are former SG players in the THW squad.
Thanks to their lucky win against Schaffhausen and Kiel’s surprising defeat at Plock, Flensburg are one point ahead of their neighbours in Group A.
TEXT: Björn Pazen / ew