|04.11.2016, 13:20||◄ last page|
GROUP A PREVIEW: Buducnost and Metz Handball are on the verge of advancing into the second group stage of Europe’s premier club competition with two games to spare
Buducnost and Metz looking to seal main round berths
The fourth round of group matches in this section could see the competition’s twice former winners, Buducnost, and French contenders Metz Handball progress into the Main Round, as both teams are strong home-court favourites against their respective rivals
Metz are clear favourites but they will be wary of an almost surreal Glassverket comeback in the reverse fixture last weekend, when the Women’s EHF Champions League debutants turned the match on its head early in the second half.
Trailing 15:8 at half-time, Glassverket scored nine unanswered goals in 15 minutes after the break and shortly afterwards took an 18:16 into the home straight.
Metz, however, showed their resilience in the last quarter of the game and came out on top thanks to a deep roster, with Xenia Smits and Ana Gros emerging as the key figures in a dramatic 24:22 win.
Metz warmed up for the clash with an emphatic 33:21 French league win at perennial rivals Fleury Loiret, keeping them third in the 11-team top division on 10 points from six games.
Glassverket had a somewhat tougher dress rehearsal, as they ground out a 26:24 home win over Halden in Norway’s top flight. The result kept them second in the 12-team championship on 11 points from seven games, three behind champions Larvik.
The Montenegrin giants are a side known for never taking victory against any opposition for granted, hence they are likely to keep going at full throttle from start to finish in front of their passionate fans.
Several players shone in Germany, when Buducnost engineered a 10-goal lead in the first half and maintained it comfortably until the last 10 minutes, when coach Dragan Adzic gave some second-string players a chance to spend more minutes than usual on the court.
Adzic was understandably pleased with his team’s performance, hailing it as the best of the season in his post-match comments.
“I am overjoyed with the stalwarts’ commitment and also the desire some of the young players showed in the second half,” he said.
“We are in good shape and keen to keep winning so that we head into the main round with maximum points.”
With backs Katarina Bulatovic and Christina Neagu unstoppable in Germany, the THC defence will once again face a stern test of their credentials, while the German side’s offence is likely to rely on the versatile skills of their Czech pack leader Iveta Luzumova.
TEXT: Zoran Milosavljevic / br