|14.02.2017, 17:08||◄ last page|
GROUP A ROUND PREVIEW: Plock want to secure their place in the Last 16, and up to three other teams have a chance to book their Last 16 tickets after Round 11 if they win
Three crucial duels to take place in Group A
Group A’s top teams Barcelona and PSG both play away in Round 11. Kiel host Veszprém, while either Plock or Bjerringbro can make a crucial step towards the Last 16.
THW Kiel (GER) vs. Telekom Veszprém (HUN)
Momir Ilic and Aron Palmarsson on the one side, Marko Vujin on the opposite: When Kiel and Veszprém face, several top stars face their former clubs. As usual, the duel between the two powerhouses of European handball is crucial. Veszprém were defeated on home ground by Barcelona in the previous MOTW and were passed by Kiel and Flensburg to currently rank fifth. Kiel have had a roller coaster ride in the group phase so far.
Both sides are unlikely to miss the knock-out stage- but they know that their final ranking is important for the journey to Cologne. If Bjerringbro lose against Plock, the ticket to the Last16 is certain for the winner of this match after this round.
Despite a strong away performance, Kiel lost the first leg at Lake Balaton by 19:21. “We were better than Veszprém in that match, so now we are out to take revenge.” said THW coach Alfred Gislason after the away win at Schaffhausen in Round 10.
Veszprém drew their last game on German ground at Flensburg in their opener. The odds against seem to be slightly in favour of the Hungarian record champions, who won eight of 15 games between the teams, including the thrilling 2016 semi-final at the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in Cologne.
Like at Schaffhausen, Danish THW goalkeeper Niklas Landin will miss the match against Veszprém due to a finger injury, and will be replaced by young Tom Landgraf.
Kadetten Schaffhausen (SUI) vs FC Barcelona Lassa (ESP)
Nine wins from ten matches on the one hand for Barcelona, and nine defeats in ten matches on the other for Schaffhausen- the duel at the BBC arena looks like a face-off between David and Goliath. The 38:25 in the first leg was Barcelona’s second largest win during the current group stage below the 34:19 against Bjerringbro-Silkeborg. The Catalans are also flying on the wings of success at the moment- the 25:22 win at Veszprém was another big step towards winning the group.
Under the helm of their new coach Petr Kukucka, Schaffhausen gave a brave and strong performance against Kiel last Saturday, however they did not succeed. Only a miracle could get the Swiss into the Last16, being four points below sixth rank Plock side currently. Barcelona have five wins and a goal difference of +42 in the previous encounters between these two teams.
Orlen Wisla Plock (POL) vs Bjerringbro-Silkeborg (DEN)
The unexpected 33:24 win against Plock on 16 October was the last victory for Bjerringbro-Silkeborg in the group phase, after which they conceded seven defeats. Thus, the Danish champions need to turn the tide at Poland to remain in the race for the Last16. They are two points below the hosts after ten rounds.
Despite the 30:37 loss against Flensburg on Sunday, Plock are famous for their home strength, shown by the 24:22 win against Kiel and the 28:28 draw against Veszprém. Indeed, the “Oilers” are favourites, and as their remaining matches are in Veszprém and Barcelona, and at home against PSG, it might be their last chance to grab points. It is especially crucial as Bjerringbro still have a home match against Schaffhausen.
SG Flensburg-Handewitt (GER) vs Paris Saint-Germain Handball (FRA)
Flensburg are on a roll: In Bundesliga they defeated Kiel, while on Sunday in the VELUX EHF Champions League they ran over Plock. Although the two Swedes Johan Jakobsson and Tobias Karlsson are still ruled out by injuries, hopes are high to cause an upset by defeating PSG like last season, when they beat the team of former PSG coach Noka Serdarusic by 37:32 on home ground.
The match will be a reunion of several Danish Olympic champions: Mikkel Hansen and Henrik Möllgaard for PSG and Lasse Svan, Rasmus Lauge and Henrik Toft Hansen for Flensburg. In addition, Flensburg’s left wing Kentin Mahe will face up to seven of his French team mates with whom he became World Champion on 29 January in Paris.
Having the postponed match against Kadetten still ahead, Flensburg (currently on eleven points) can potentially become the group winner if Barcelona and PSG lose matches.
TEXT: Björn Pazen / kc