Champions League Round 5 preview - Zagreb travel to Germany, Celje host Meshkov
After an interesting Round 4, where 3 SEHA teams recorded draws the time has come for Round 5 of the Champions League. Vardar failed to win for the first time this season snatching a point against Pick Szeged, Metalurg drew in Ukraine and PPD Zagreb split the points with Orlen Wisla Plock. This round will see Celje host Meshkov in a SEHA derby in Champions League. The Croatian champions Zagreb will travel to Germany to play Rhein-Neckar and Vardar will look to remain unbeaten against Barcelona. Everything you need to know about SEHA teams in Champions League is right in front of you!
PPD Zagreb are the first SEHA team to step on the court in Round 5 of the Champions League. Rhein-Neckar and Zagreb do have some history of playing against each other in Champions League. They have played 4 times in 2016; a double header in 15/16 season when Zagreb knocked out Rhein-Neckar in the Last 16. The two teams also met in last season's group stage and both teams recorded one win. This season the things are looking a bit different; Zagreb are yet to record a win in Champions League after 2 draws and 2 losses. On the other side, Rhein-Neckar have 2 wins and 2 draws and hold the third position in Group A. It is going to be a tough fixture for the Croatian champions.
Saturday action is commenced with a match from Group D. Metalurg are traveling to Russia and play Chekhovskiye Medvedi. The Russians have lost all 4 matches so far, but will still present a dangerous threat. Metalurg played against them last season and lost the match in Russia, but won by 7 goals when Chekhovskiye Medvedi came to visit in Macedonia. Halil Jaganjac will once more be in the center of attention for the visiting team, as he has 26 goals under his belt so far. Even though Chekhovskiye Medvedi still have not gotten a single point, a difficult match awaits for Metalurg on Saturday.
The second Saturday match featuring SEHA teams is the derby between Vardar and Barcelona. Last season’s clash saw Luka Cindric become a cult hero between Vardar’s fans. The two teams also played a preseason match as part of the Super Globe tournament when Barcelona won 32:29. It is definitely a match everyone is looking forward to, especially when you take the importance into account. Both teams currently have 7 points after 4 rounds and this may well be the game that decides who the winner of Group A is going to be. The two teams have played 5 times since 2013 and Vardar only won once- last June at the Final 4. Still, the reigning champions are always the favorites when they play at home and Barcelona will be very motivated to get revenge for the last season’s defeat. Both teams are currently undefeated in all competitions, meaning this match is going to be spectacular!
Saturday matches are then finished off with an all-SEHA match. Meshkov travel to Celje for the second time this season, after they won in Slovenia as part of the SEHA- Gazprom League Round 2. Both teams have left quite a positive impression so far in the Champions League. Meshkov did better defensively than Celje, but Celje’s fast paced game was really fun to watch at times. However, Meshkov won two matches out of 4 and Celje have only won once, against Kielce- a team that was beaten by both teams. Ziga Mlakar and Petar Djordjic are probably the two most dangerous players these sides have and it will be fun to see them go against each other. Celje will definitely look to win this match as it means they would still have a decent chance of going to the next round!
On Sunday, SEHA- Gazprom League has its final representative in action. Gorenje will look to get back to winning ways as they face the Norweigan side Elverum. After 2 opening losses Elverum won two matches in a row, beating Ademar Leon and Dinamo Bucuresti. On the other hand, Gorenje only lost one match so far- against Kadetten Schaffhausen in Round 4. They still played well, but lacked focus and defensive awareness late in the match. Elverum are a good team and will surely be a tough opponent, but Gorenje need these 2 points to show what they are made off and make another step forward towards securing a place in the next round.
Thursday October 12th
21:00 Rhein-Neckar Loewen- PPD Zagreb
Saturday October 14th
15:00 Chekhovskiye Medvedi- Metalurg
18:30 Vardar- Barcelona
19:00 RK Celje PL- Meshkov Brest
Sunday October 15th
17:00 Elverum Handball- Gorenje Velenje