|14.02.2017, 09:20||◄ last page|
TALKING POINTS: Resolution in Group A, tug-of-war in Group B, Bundesliga sides hit climax: A reflection on past week's matches in the VELUX EHF Champions League.
Things we know after Round 10
The latest matches in the VELUX EHF Champions League brought resolution in Group A and a tight contest in Group B, with many important points to consider. We have picked ones to reflect upon, and ones which really have an influence on the course of the competition.
All Bundesliga sides have recorded wins in the last round. However, Flensburg stand out as the most impressive. The North German side accomplished several impressive milestones in their 37:30 rout of declining Wisla Plock.
But with an interesting summer ahead, the focus remains on the current season. The main talking point here is whether the departing coach and players will find motivation to make something extraordinary in their farewell season, at the end of Ljubomir Vranjes’ era in Flensburg?
Serbian duo shines as Flensburg break the spell
Flensburg are now de facto and de jure through to the Last 16, with 11 points and having played one match less than their Group A opponents. Vranjes’ side have also broken the spell by scoring more than 30 goals; something they have never done in this group stage format.
Vranjes also gave his next club a taste of what is to come as Flensburg’s win saw them soar past the mighty Veszprém, also for the first time ever in group standings.
Furthermore, it was Flensburg’s bench that shone well above the merely average Wisla side on Sunday, with a Serbian duo stealing the show in front of a packed arena in Plock.
Petar Djordjic and Bogdan Radivojevic did well to put themselves in a shop window after they announced their intention to leave Flensburg at the end of the season.
Radivojevic crowned his arguably best VELUX EHF Champions League performance with a career-high nine goals, while Djordjic blasted all five of his when most needed to round off his perfect display.
THW Kiel gear up at the right time
At least once every season, there comes a moment to say “Kiel is always Kiel”. The German side have not been performing true to their name in recent time, but if anyone is cheeky and confident enough to produce some odds-defying goodness when least expected, it is Alfred Gislasson’s team.
Things did not go according to plan for the German team from the get go, but the dying minutes at Schaffhausen saw the good old THW remind all of their most prolific days.
The no-so-hot Kiel overturned the game in the last 20 minutes to record their fifth win, and pass Veszprém in the Group B standings.
A seven-goal masterclass from Niclas Ekberg was enough for the German powerhouse to clinch their fifth group win, and catch the right wave of form just in time as the make-or-break Last 16 stage is edging closer.
Key to Group B outcome in Dujshebaev’s hands, but which?
Nothing is decided still in the tug-of-war Group B. The latest matches brought even more uncertainty with Vardar and Kielce neck and neck at the top.
With only one point away from the chasing pack of Szeged and Löwen, the key to the top is in the hands of Vardar and Kielce, and therefore the Dujshebaev family.
This season, Alex Dujshebaev has produced magic at Vardar with 49 goals so far, including seven against Zagreb in the last round.
While on the other hand, Talant... Well, we all saw what Talant is capable of last term at the VELUX EHF FINAL4, and the Spanish magician is continuing to inspire world class performances in the trophy defence season.
Furthermore, the rivalry grows each day before the family gets united next season. Alex Dujshebaev’s perfomances are nothing short of magical, and the Spaniard will certainly be looking to leave a legacy at Vardar, on what can be their VELUX EHF FINAL4 debut, before joining his father at Kielce.
Barcelona and PSG run the show in group A
Two giants stand shoulders above the rest in Group A, with seven and five points clear from the chasing pack.
Barcelona defeated Veszprém (25:22) for the fourth time in a row, making a statement and taking a considerable psychological advantage over last years’ finalist.
Most of all it was a display of power from both group leaders, and it is getting harder to look beyond them as the main favourites.
Nikola Karabatic did not show any sign of fatigue from the recent World Championship. The Frenchman’s 11-goal masterclass against Bjerringbro-Silkeborg (32:27) gave PSG the edge in a truly inspired performance from the four-time world champion.
With the current form and group standing, it is unimaginable how Flensburg, Kiel (11 points) or Veszprém (10 points) could top either side in Group A.
TEXT: Nemanja Savic / ew