20220203

More teams seek quarter-final berth

EHF / Adrian Costeiu, Sergey Nikolaev

The group phase of the DELO EHF Champions League 2021/22 is approaching its completion with just three rounds left to play. This weekend’s round 12 includes some crucial matches in the battle for the top-two spots in both groups, which give teams direct access to the quarter-final.

Györi Audi ETO KC are the only team having already secured a quarter-final berth as the five-time champions cannot finish worse than second in group B.

Vipers Kristiansand and Metz Handball, who meet in the Match of the Week on Saturday, are the teams with the best chance to join Györ.

In group A, leaders Team Esbjerg can clinch their quarter-final berth with a win against Buducnost BEMAX, while FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria take on Rostov-Don in a duel between two teams also in the race for a top-two finish.

20220203 CLW Esbjerg Solberg Quote
It will be tough to go to Montenegro and play for the victory. But we will, without a doubt, go for the win. Because we have a quarter-final to play for, and we might as well do it straight away instead of dragging out the excitement.
Sanna Solberg
Team Esbjerg left wing

GROUP A

FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria (HUN) vs Rostov-Don (RUS)
Saturday 5 February, 16:00 CET, live on EHFTV

  • FTC are in a must-win situation as they are two points behind second-placed Rostov
  • FTC did not lose any of their first seven games but conceded three losses in the last four matches – however, they are still unbeaten on home court
  • no other team has conceded a lower amount of goals than Rostov-Don this season: 259, an average of 23.5 goals per game
  • if FTC score 24 goals in the game, they will reach the 5,500-goal milestone in the CL as the fourth team, after Györ, Krim, and Buducnost
  • FTC coach Gabor Elek: “It was a huge surprise when we won in Rostov-don in September, but it gives us faith, that we can beat them again”
  • with 63 wins in 93 CL games, Rostov have the third-best winning percentage (67.7), after Györ (75.7) and Vardar (70.5)

Brest Bretagne Handball (FRA) vs BV Borussia 09 Dortmund (GER)
Saturday 5 February, 16:00 CET, live on EHFTV

  • Brest are on a three-game winning streak
  • Brest are still immaculate on their home court, winning five games out of five; a feature achiebed by only two other teams this season: Esbjerg and Györ
  • Dortmund have lost three of the last four away games and will finish the group phase in sixth if they lose and CSM win against Podravka
  • Dortmund’s top scorer, centre back Alina Grijseels, who extended her contract with the German side until 2024 this week, will miss the game due to an injury
  • Brest have never lost against German opponents in European competitions: five wins and a draw, against Dortmund in last season’s group phase (33:33)

Buducnost BEMAX (MNE) vs Team Esbjerg (DEN)
Saturday 5 February, 18:00 CET, live on EHFTV

  • Esbjerg would lock up a top-two finish and seal their quarter-final spot with a win
  • with 319 goals in 11 games, Esbjerg have the most productive attack in group A, and the third-best in the whole group phase
  • Buducnost have conceded the largest number of goals in the group: 320
  • ranked seven points below the team in sixth place in the group, Buducnost cannot qualify for the play-offs anymore
  • another loss would be Buducnost’s 11th this season, a new record for the club in the CL
  • in the first game against Buducnost in September, Esbjerg secured their biggest win in the CL: 35:20
  • Buducnost head coach Bojana Popovic: "I believe in these girls, I know how hard they have been preparing for Esbjerg in the last two weeks. We have to minimize the mistakes we made in the first game, although we know it will not be easy, because we are playing against a great team led by (Henny) Reistad, who is one of the best players in the world."

CSM Bucuresti (ROU) vs HC Podravka Vegeta (CRO)
Sunday, 6 February, 16:00 CET, live on EHFTV

  • after winning three of the last four matches, CSM are four points behind second-ranked Rostov in group B
  • CSM left back Cristina Neagu is leading the goal scorer standings, with 81 goals in 11 games; her best outing was in the first match Podravka, when she netted 14 times
  • if CSM beat Podravka, it will be their 60th CL win; only 10 other teams have won more than 60 CL matches
  • CSM right wing Carmen Martin: “It’s a very important game for us as we are playing at home alongside our fans and we hope to do our best to get the win.”
  • Podravka started the group phase with a win (against Buducnost) but have lost the next 10 games – by an average of 9.3 goals per game
  • both teams secured clear wins in their domestic leagues this week: CSM against Stiinta Bucuresti (32:24), Podravka against Koka (32:28)
20220203 CLW Cska Pera Quote
Györ are the only team in the EHF Champions League with maximum points. This aspect must motivate us. We need to play with a lot of desire in defence and tactical discipline in attack.
Florentin Pera
CSKA head coach

GROUP B

Krim Mercator Ljubljana (SLO) vs Kastamonu Belediyesi GSK (TUR)
Saturday 5 February, 16:00 СET, live on EHFTV

  • Krim, who are fighting hard for a play-off spot, are ranked seventh in the group with five points, but have one game in hand
  • Kastamonu have lost all 11 matches so far and have no more chance to progress from the group
  • last Saturday, the Turkish champions were defeated at home by direct rivals Sävehof, 29:26
  • it was Kastamonu’s first match under new head coach Hakan Günal, who replaced Costica Buceschi
  • Krim win the reverse fixture in September by the smallest possible margin: 24:23
  • Krim head coach Nataša Derepasko: “I am glad that we are all healthy now and we can prepare for the match. I agree that we have a very important match ahead of us and it will be seen on Saturday whether we are ready to further compete in the DELO EHF Champions League.”

MOTW: Vipers Kristiansand (NOR) vs Metz Handball (FRA)
Saturday 5 February, 18:00 CET, live on EHFTV

  • Vipers, who have 16 points after 11 games, and Metz, who are on 14 points after 10 matches, are direct rivals for the second position in the group
  • in round 11, the title-holders extended their winning run to six matches, defeating outsiders Kastamonu 35:24
  • with a tally of 74 goals, Nora Mørk holds second position in the competition’s scoring chart, seven goals behind Cristina Neagu from CSM
  • Metz also played their most recent game in the tournament against Kastamonu, winning 33:25 in round 10
  • while a number of Metz players have extended their conracts recently, left back Orlane Kanor announced her move to Rapid Bucuresti in summer
  • Metz have won four of seven previous meetings with Vipers, including the reverse fixture in France: 23:18
  • Vipers head coach Ole Gustav Gjekstad: "Last time we played against Metz, we did not feel that we were up to our best level. Now, with a very important match to stay at the No. 2 spot in the group, we want to be at our best. The team has developed since our visit to Metz in September, and hopefully we will reach our full potential in this game."

Odense Håndbold (DEN) vs IK Sävehof (SWE)
Sunday 6 February, 16:00 CET, live on EHFTV

  • while both Nordic teams sit next to each other in the table, fifth-placed Odense have five points more than Sävehof in sixth
  • the Swedish side climbed to the sixth position after beating Kastamonu and ending their five-match losing run
  • Odense have lost three of their five group matches in Denmark so far, but drew with CSKA (27:27) in their most recent home outing in round 9
  • after that, the Danish team played two away encounters, winning 24:19 at Krim and narrowly losing 27:26 at Györ
  • in the reverse fixture, Odense comfortably won 37:31 in Sweden, despite Jamina Roberts scoring 10 goals for Sävehof
  • Odense head coach Ulrik Kirkely: "Sävehof are a bit underestimated despite of their quality and the fact that they have played very well in the competition. They always play with an eager to win and they have great players in Jamina Roberts and Nina Koppang."
  • Sävehof head coach Rasmus Overby: "It’s always special to return to your home country for a game. Odense are playing great in Denmark at the moment, and they’re an incredibly strong handball team. We had difficulties against them in Partille, so it’ll be a big challenge for us on Sunday."

     

CSKA (RUS) vs Györi Audi ETO KC (HUN)
Sunday 6 February, 16:00 CET, live on EHFTV

  • the Russian team have faced three Nordic rivals after the New Year and had mixed fortunes, as they split points with Odense, lost to Vipers and defeated Sävehof
  • 32:23 against Sävehof in round 11 was CSKA’s biggest win in the current tournament; they are now ranked fourth in the group with 12 points
  • Györ almost had their winning run halted in the previous match, but ultimately carved out a 27:26 home win against Odense
  • with the maximum of 22 points after 11 matches, Györ cannot finish lower than second place anymore and have thus booked their quarter-final ticket
  • Györ won the reverse fixture 32:22 on home court; last season, the two teams split the points in Moscow, 27:27

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