Beginning of April is reserved for the start of EHF Champions League Play-offs which will this season be a bit different than usual. Big change is that all 16 teams are still dreaming of booking their ticket for Cologne and climbing the European throne which means we'll see five SEHA teams in the Round of 16. What's interesting is that we'll have two SEHA derbies in EHF Champions League eighth-finals so without further ado let's get started with eighth-finals preview focusing, of course, on our five SEHA gems.
Skopje will on Thursday (18.45 CET) host the first match of the first of two SEHA derbies waiting for us in the Round of 16 with Vardar 1961 welcoming Telekom Veszprem. Hungarians are having a great season finishing second behind Barca in group B after the group stage. Coach Davis and his guys are once again aiming for the European throne and they'll surely look to deliver a strong outing in Macedonian capital and seal the deal as quick as possible. Macedonians are, on the other side, not having a season to remember but it seems like they are slowly catching the right rhythm after the WCh in Egypt. And although Veszprem is a favorite in this one, you can never count out the heart of the champion a lot of guys wearing the red and black jersey definitely have. It is clear Macedonians will do everything they can to spoil everything for one of the strongest teams in Europe which means you definitely can't afford to miss this one.
In our second SEHA derby Motor will on Thursday (18.45 CET) in Zaporozhye welcome Meshkov Brest. In what will without doubt be great two matches both teams will be looking to reach a historic success and book a place among eight best teams in Europe. Ukrainians are having a great season so far. Probably the only shadow on it is the defeat they've suffered in Novi Sad against Vojvodina a few days ago but which will certainly serve as additional motivation for coach Savukinas and his guys to show what they're really capable of. Meshkov have, on the other side, managed to finish the group stage as fourth team in Group A behind Flensburg, PSG and Kielce and in front of some big names like Szeged, Vardar and Porto which tells a lot. Best SEHA scorer from last season Mikita Vailupau and his teammates will surely look to deliver their best in both matches against a team which they'll likely square off against later in SEHA - Gazprom League season as well which is yet another proof that we're up to a great one.
PPD Zagreb, who finished the group stage on the bottom of Group B will in eighth finals face off against German Flensburg. Croatian champions are going through in the Champions League, but this season was definitely not the one to remember, but two great outings against Flensburg could turn their season upside down. New coach Ivica Obrvan is doing a good job in the Croatian capital and it is sure 'Lions' won't get out there with a 'white flag'. First match between the two opponents will be played in Germany in a week.
In other eighth-finals matches Celje PL will play PSG, Nantes will face off against Kielce, Kiel will try to book a ticket for the next round versus Szeged, Porto will play Aalborg and Barca will square off against Elverum.
Two SEHA - Gazprom League teams also managed to reach Last 16 round of EHF European League where they were drawn to play against two German strongholds. Eurofarm Pelister suffered two defeats against Magdeburg while Nexe managed to come inches away from knocking great Rhein Neckar Löwen out of the competition after losing by only two goals at home and then reaching a draw in Germany.