‘Old Friends’ meet yet againArticle
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Chekhovski coach Vladimir Maximov praises Ademar before the Last 16 encounter in Leon.

‘Old Friends’ meet yet again

Chekhovskie Medvedi of Russia meets Reale Ademar in the first leg of the EHF Champions League 1/8 finals this weekend, and is hoping for a good result on away soil to stand a chance of advancing to the last eight of Europe.

In the last 10 years the draw has brought together the Spanish team and the Russian champions three times, and of those six official games, two were won by the Bears and four by Ademar.

In the autumn of 2001 the Spaniards won both games, and two years later they exchanged victories. The same thing happened in February 2008 with one victory for each side. "Sometimes it seems that we always get drawn against the same teams: Montpellier, Valladolid and now Ademar Leon. There are numerous other teams in Europe that we’ve never met in the history of the Champions League," commented coach Vladimir Maximov.

"Our opponent Ademar is an excellent team, and coach Jordi Ribera has done a really good job of forming the players into a great unit. Ribera has an academic playing style, and his team doesn’t risk anything in its game plan. They go along established ways and show fighting spirit in difficult situations," continued Maximov.

The team of Ademar has many superb players within its ranks, and they’re the only leading team in Europe that has two Russians in their side: the Olympic Champion veterans Danil Chernov and Denis Krivochlykov.

Regarding Ademar Leon, the club suffered a major setback on Wednesday in the domestic Asobal league. They lost 25:35 against Reyno de Navarra San Antonio in Pamplona. Ribera’s team showed physical tiredness in the league game after having two epic clashes against Ciudad Real and Barcelona Borges in the Spanish King’s Cup last weekend. The mental setback of losing the final in extra time may have been a contributory factor to the poor mid-week performance, but this was not the only reason for the clear defeat, where the match had already been decided at half-time (12:20).

There is no rest for the Spanish however, as they must quickly overcome that league performance, and head into the 1/8 finals of the CL on Sunday, with the first game being played at 19.30 at home.

TEXT: Márk Hegedüs