EHFCL Round 11 preview: Vardar opening second part of the season in Kiel, SEHA derby in Zaporozhye
With European championships grand finale between Spain and Croatia now almost ten days away, the time has arrived for the start of the second part of the season in Europe’s most elite club handball championship – EHF Champions League. This season, seven teams are representing SEHA – Gazprom League among the best and now we’re bringing you all the key info about their standings, upcoming matches and chances of reaching the knock-out phase. So let’s get going!
(Group B) THW Kiel – Vardar
Reigning both EHF CL and SEHA champions Vardar will open the second part of Champions League season on Wednesday in Germany against THW Kiel led by the MVP of recently finished EURO – Croatian national team player Domagoj Duvnjak. Macedonians are currently positioned sixth in group B and although they still haven’t secured a place for themselves in Last 16 it seems to be within their reach. However, in case they finish the group stage on sixth position they are aware they’ll have a tough Last 16 matchup ahead of them which is why ‘Red&Black’ will most definitely look to get back on winning tracks despite of the fact they’ll play current group leaders Kiel who were in their first encounter of the season with 31:20 dominant in Skopje.
(Group B) Porto Sofarma – Telekom Veszprem
Hungarian Telekom Veszprem will on Saturday in Portugal, for the second time this season, square off against Porto. In their premier clash of the season Veszprem have managed to take a big 38:28 win at home and it is clear they once again go for a win against Portuguese side in order to keep up the tempo with group leaders THW Kiel who are currently only two points ahead of them. Hungarians are currently on a four-game winning streak in Europe’s most elite club championship with their last loss being the one in Poland against Kielce back in the beginning of November. Coach Davis and his guys will most definitely be highly motivated to make it five in Portugal on Saturday.
(Group B) Motor Zaporozhye – Meshkov Brest
Zaporozhye will on Sunday host the only SEHA powered Champions League derby of Round 11 with Meshkov Brest visiting Motor Zaporozhye. Motor and Meshkov are currently positioned seventh and eighth respectively having four points each and considering the fact that sixth-positioned Vardar are five points ahead, with only four more rounds to go, it is clear that whoever loses this match will end up having minimum chances of reaching the knock-out phase. In their premier encounter of the season in Champions League Meshkov have celebrated a hard-fought 33:31 win at home after being three goals down at the half. Rostyslav Lanevich and his players will most likely look to deliver a strong performance in front of their fans and take revenge. Interesting is that in case Meshkov get past BSU in SEHA – Gaprom League’s Play-Off Round 1, two teams will meet again in SEHA League quarter-finals.
(Group A) PPD Zagreb - Flensburg
Croatian champions are starting the second half of Champions League as bottom-placed in group A. However, coach Vujovic and his guys are only three points behind Celje and four points behind Flensburg which means their chances of reaching the knock-out round are still alive. ‘Lions’ have during the winter break acquired a few players and are highly motivated ahead of final four CL group stage rounds. Despite of the fact Flensburg have a very good team made out of experienced internationals, as we all know, not many teams in Europe can say they are favorites in Zagreb Arena and it is clear Vujovic and his guys will do everything they can to prove that once again, especially after falling only three goals short (20:17) in their premier clash of the season in Germany.
Tatran Presov and Eurofarm Rabotnik have concluded their Champions League adventures finishing fourth and sixth respectively in group C.
EHFCL Round 11 schedule for SEHA – Gazprom League teams:
Wednesday (19.00 CET) THW Kiel – Vardar
Saturday (16.00 CET) Porto Sofarma – Telekom Veszprem
Saturday (18.00 CET) PPD Zagreb – Flensburg
Sunday (17.00 CET) Motor Zaporozhye – Meshkov Brest