|18.11.2016, 11:50||◄ last page|
GROUP C PREVIEW: Presov bid to take their first ever win over Montpellier while La Rioja defend their top spot at home against Chekhov.
In-form teams meet as Presov host Montpellier
Round 7 of the VELUX EHF Champions League sees the third-placed team in Group C take on the runner-up as Presov host Montpellier. Also, leaders La Rioja play Chekhov, while Metalurg want to leave bottom of the table with a win at Elverum.
TATRAN Presov (SVK) vs Montpellier HB (FRA)
Presov have found their momentum with two straight wins over Chekhovskie Medvedi, and they have now become serious contenders for the summit of the group.
However, they await a tough test against Montpellier. The French side have picked up fine form in recent outings and are on a six-match winning streak in all competitions, three of them in the VELUX EHF Champions League.
Montpellier broke their negative away record with a win over Metalurg to give them confidence ahead of the trip to Eastern Slovakia.
Igor Chupryna against Nicolas Portner and Vincent Gerard: Goalkeepers have been the biggest stars of the teams in the last few matches.
„A brilliant on a golden ring.“ That is how Tatran owner Miloslav Chemliar described Presov‘s win in Russia. He was also happy to announce that Chupryna, the Ukrainian hero in Chekhov, extended his contract until 2019 despite the interest from several European handball giants.
Both teams must deal with difficult injury woes. Viacheslav Sadovyi has recovered from a hand injury while defensive specialist and captain Radovan Pekar was out against both Chekhovskie Medvedi and Izvidac.
Montpellier also have injury worries as Arnaud Bingo suffered a hamstring injury against Saran and will not travel to Presov.
„We take games as they come, week after week. Presov is a competitor for the play-off berth. We must go there to win,“ coach Patrice Canayer said after the league win over Saran.
Presov already showed they can compete with Montpellier. In September, they were 14:14 at half-time and only slipped up in the second half.
Naturhouse La Rioja (ESP) vs Chekhovskie Medvedi (RUS)
Enjoying a one-point lead in the group, La Rioja host the unpredictable Bears from Chekhov, who are facing a must-win match.
Coach Vladimir Maximov’s team have lost three Champions League matches in a row and come to Spain in need for a victory to keep an eye on the play-off spots.
La Rioja centre back Pablo Cacheda injured himself in the league match against Club Balonmán Frigorificos Morrazo and has been ruled out of the match.
The Spanish team scored only one goal in the opening 12 minutes on home court against Elverum last Saturday, conceded four goals from the Norwegian goalkeeper of Elverum, Morten Nergaard, but otherwise were in control for most of the game.
Chekhov had good spells against Presov last week, especially in the second half, but generally the team have been too inconsistent – and lacking luck, as well.
The home team are expected to apply pressure on the Russian team to counter attack.
In September both teams opened Group C with a 28:28 draw but leaders La Rioja are strong favourites for the re-match on home court.
Elverum Handball (NOR) vs Metalurg Skopje (MKD)
With Group C being so tight, even bottom-placed Metalurg can still have a say for the top-two spots.
Lino Cervar‘s team suffered their first home defeat last week, against Montpellier, but the experienced Croatian coach is looking to find the positives.
„We played a good game, in the first part we controlled the game. Then there were slip ups. It shows that we lack experience of such matches and at times our concentration dropped,“ Cervar said. „Without any reason, we were influenced by the emotions. These games can only draw many lessons to our young team.“
Nemanja Obradovic nearly matched the heroic 13-goal performance by Filip Taleski from the first match this season, as he netted ten goals.
“This was one of my best matches in the shirt of Metalurg, but it is not important,“ Obradovic said.
Elverum played a difficult game in Logrono, where Norwegian goalkeeper Morten Neergard became their best scorer alongside Hungarian winger Tamas Ivancsik.
The Norwegian champions were given a boost with a midweek win over Kolden, which guaranteed them a place in the domestic cup final.
Their first match in September turned out to be one of the lowest scoring matches of the season as Metalurg prevailed 18:17. However, the Macedonian team possess more threat at home, and so do Elverum.
TEXT: Tomas Cuncik / ew