PSG and Barcelona aim to leave the rest behind
The same opponents as the last round are up in Group A’s Round 8 of the VELUX EHF Champions League. Again four top teams - Flensburg vs Kiel and PSG vs Veszprém - face in direct duels. Paris and Barcelona can already put a gap between them and the rest of the group.
• Plock look to keep Kadetten on zero with an away win
• Paris aim for their seventh straight win
• Barcelona will be cautious of the Danish champions
• Ahead of the Kiel clash, Flensburg (9 points) have only one home win so far this season
SG Flensburg-Handewitt (GER) vs THW Kiel (GER)
Wednesday, 18:30 hrs. local time, live on ehfTV
Only three days after the unexpectedly clear 30:22 away win of Flensburg at Kiel, both German rivals lock the horns again for the third time within ten days including their league match on 13 November.
“Maybe it is something positive for us that we don’t have a long time to think about the defeat, but to have the opportunity to strike back. But to take points in Flensburg, we have to be much, much better than on Sunday,” said THW team captain Domagoj Duvnjak.
It will be the 91st duel of SG and THW, and still Kiel lead the overall and the Champions League balance. But the team of Alfred Gislason will not only have Sunday’s defeat in mind, but also the 37:27 in the previous Champions League season, the biggest ever THW loss against Flensburg.
Flensburg only lost one of the previous six clashes with THW on home court, but coach Ljubomir Vranjes is trying to keep his player’s feet on the ground: “Kiel are dangerous, and Sunday’s result doesn’t count anymore on Wednesday. We need the support from the stands to win this duel.”
While Flensburg have overtaken Veszprém in the ranking, Kiel already seem to be out of the race for the group win after two straight defeats. In the worst case, the three-time Champions League winners could even drop below Plock and Bjerringbro after Round 8.
Kadetten Schaffhausen (SUI) vs Orlen Wisla Plock (POL)
Saturday, 20:00 hrs. local time, live on ehfTV
Still having zero points on their account means for Kadetten that a win against Plock is a must, but in the first leg, Schaffhausen were without a chance against the Polish runners-up, losing 26:33.
Taking Schaffhausen, Plock and BSV in consideration as the teams fighting for the sixth position, the hosts are already down by five points compared to Plock, currently holding this Last 16 spot.
But it might boost the confidence of the team of coach Lars Walther, who had been coach in Plock from 2010 to 2013 that they have taken the lead in the Swiss championship after a weak start, and that goalkeeper Nikola Marinovic might return in the squad.
Paris Saint-Germain Handball (FRA) vs Telekom Veszprém (HUN)
Sunday, 17:00 hrs. local time, ehfTV.com
After their away win in the last round Paris are in the favourites role this Sunday. The team of Noka Serdarusic had conquered Veszprém’s fortress in the first leg on Sunday with a thrilling 28:27 -- their sixth straight win in the group phase.
“Paris are currently the best team in Europe, and we were equal for most of the game,” said Veszprém coach Javier Sabate, “but now it will be really tough to beat this team on their court.”
PSG’s coach Noka Serdarusic did not expect to win at Veszprém, but underlined that it was a “well-deserved victory, on which we want to build our preparation for the re-match at home.”
Paris are on top of the table and can make a huge step towards the group win, if they win their remaining matches against Veszprém and at Barcelona. The Hungarian side is already four points below the top duo PSG and Barcelona.
FC Barcelona Lassa (ESP) vs Bjerringbro-Silkeborg (DEN)
Sunday, 17:30 hrs. local time, live on ehfTV
Barcelona had a much harder nut to crack than expected against Bjerringbro, but they did see out a 27:23 win in the first game, as only a strong final stage and the saves of goalkeeper Gonzalo Perez de Vargas secured this win.
“Bjerringbro played in that classical Scandinavian way of handball, and we have to be aware of what they bring to the table on home court too,” said Barca coach Xavi Pascual.
“Again we have proven that we can keep up with top teams, but again we did not earn a point. In Barcelona we have to play as focused as we did on home court,” BSVB coach Peter Bredsdorff-Larsen hopes for an away surprise.