A quartet on its way to the next stageArticle
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Last round of the VELUX EHF Champions League in 2010: Some decisions, more markers for the future.

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A quartet on its way to the next stage

Starting Thursday in Romania, Round 7 of the VELUX EHF Champions League will have an unusual finish on Monday evening in Sweden.

The last 12 CL matches of year 2010 will bring some more decisions – and up to four more teams can follow MKB Veszprém to the Last 16 before Christmas: Kiel, Rhein-Neckar Löwen, Montpellier and Ciudad Real. Even though they cannot qualify directly, several more teams, such as Chekhovskie Medvedi, Valladolid, Hamburg, Zagreb, and Flensburg, can make great strides towards the knock-out stage.

The VELUX EHF Champions League will restart in February 2011 with the last three rounds of the Group Stage.

Group A

Rhein-Neckar Löwen (GER) – RL Pivovarna Laško Celje (SLO)
Saturday, 17:00 hrs (local time)

After three matches without a victory (one defeat and one draw against Kiel, and a draw in Kielce) the Rhein-Neckar Löwen are ambitious to book their Last 16 ticket on Saturday.

They won the first match in Celje, and with a second victory against the Slovenians, they would be through.

Such a result would also give them the advantage in the fight for the best possible group position.

On the other hand, Celje arrive in Mannheim highly motivated after their victory against Chambery. Another point or two would greatly increase their chances for the Last 16.

F.C. Barcelona Borges (ESP) – THW Kiel (GER)
Sunday, 17.15 hrs (local time)

The classic clash, the repeat match of last season’s Final of the VELUX EHF FINAL4: Barcelona versus Kiel is always a real thriller.

The teams drew the first match in Kiel, but Kiel are still unbeaten on international soil. Barcelona are four points below the table leader after losing against Löwen, in Chambery, and drawing with Kielce.

The Spaniards need the points more urgently, as otherwise, their qualification for the Last 16 could be jeopardised.

Kiel have severe injury problems, as Narcisse, Zeitz, Andersson, Ahlm and Sprenger will all miss the game.

The VELUX EHF Men's Champions League Group A game F.C. Barcelona Borges (ESP) VS. THW Kiel (GER)  on Sunday 5 December 2010 at 17:15 hrs (local time) is our „Match of the Week" and will be broadcast live on our free-of-charge web stream on ehfTV.com, including English commentary by Tom O'Brannagain.

KS Vive Targi Kielce (POL) – Chambery Savoie (FRA)
Sunday, 15.00 hrs (local time)

Can the Poles take their first victory and remain in the race for the next stage?

If Kielce lose, they exit the competition, as Chambery would then be on eight points and unreachable for Wenta’s team.

Kielce lost the first encounter in France, but surprised last weekend with a draw at Barcelona. Chambery lost in Celje and still need at least four points from the last four matches to be securely qualified for the Last 16.

Group B

HSV Hamburg (GER) – MKB Veszprém KC (HUN)
Saturday, 17:00 hrs (local time)

The last chance for Hamburg to fight for the premium position in Group B – but even a victory against leader Veszprém would not be enough to overtake the Hungarians, as the German runner-up is five points below.

If Veszprém – already qualified for the Last 16 – clear this hurdle in Germany, the HSV dream of a perfect position for the next stage is over.

HSV will miss Croatian playmaker Domagoj Duvnjak due to a knee injury. Veszprém arrive with much confidence after their six straight victories. But if HSV win, this would also increase the chances of Montpellier reaching first place.

The VELUX EHF Men's Champions League top game of Group B, HSV Hamburg (GER) vs. MKB Veszprém KC (HUN) on Saturday 4 December 2010 at 17:00 hrs (local time), will be broadcast live on our free-of-charge web stream on ehfTV.com.

KIF Kolding (DEN) – Tatran Presov (SLO)
Saturday, 16.15 hrs (local time)

How did Kolding cope with the two clear defeats against Montpellier, especially the 15-goal difference in France on Sunday evening?

The Danes will need to talk a lot – but they should also be wary of Presov. Even though the Slovaks cannot reach the Last 16, they surprised last weekend by drawing against Hamburg.

Kolding are planning to take these two points which would open the gate to the next stage. If the Danes win and Sävehof lose against Montpellier, Kolding (clear winner of the first match) only need one more point from the last three matches to go on.

IK Sävehof (SWE) – Montpellier Agglomeration (FRA)
Monday, 20:10 hrs (local time)

An unusual time for a decisive match: By taking one or two points from Sweden, Montpellier would book a ticket to the Last 16 and remain the first hunter of Veszprém.

After three consecutive victories MAHB are aiming high. For Sävehof it is the last chance to hope for the next stage – if the Swedes lose (as in the first match against the French champion) they will be almost out.

The VELUX EHF Men's Champions League top game of Group B, IK Sävehof (SWE) vs. Montpellier Agglomeration (FRA) on Monday 6 December 2010 at 20:10 hrs (local time), will be broadcast live on our free-of-charge web stream on ehfTV.com.

Group C

Chekhovskie Medvedi (RUS) – Cuatro Rayas Valladolid (ESP)
Thursday, 19:00 hrs (local time)

Will this game decide which team will win the group?

No, as the number one team (Valladolid) play at the number two team (Chekhovskie Medvedi), which is only one point below. As the opponents are so close to one another, this match can pave the way, but it will not be decisive.

If Valladolid take the points, the distance would be three points, and if the Russians win, they would overtake the Spaniards. But maybe everything will remain the same – as the first match ended in a draw.

The VELUX EHF Men's Champions League top game of Group C, Chekhovskie Medvedi (RUS) vs. Cuatro Rayas BM Valladolid (ESP) on Thursday 2 December 2010 at 19:00 hrs (local time), will be broadcast live on our free-of-charge web stream on ehfTV.com.

Pick Szeged (HUN) – HC DINAMO-Minsk (BLR)
Saturday, 15:10 hrs (local time)

Szeged want to avenge their defeat in the first part of this duel – which has been the only Minsk victory up until to now.

With two more points, Szeged would be in a comfortable position for the Last 16 after losing clearly against Chekhov last Sunday. Minsk are nearly out, and if they lose this game, it may all depend on the result of their delayed game against Schaffhausen, which will take place in February.

The VELUX EHF Men's Champions League top game of Group C, Pick Szeged (HUN) vs. HC DINAMO-Minsk (BLR) on Saturday 4 December 2010 at 15:10 hrs (local time), will be broadcast live on our free-of-charge web stream on ehfTV.com.

Kadetten Schaffhausen (SUI) – Aab Handbold (DEN)
Sunday, 17:30 hrs (local time)

The Swiss champion is well prepared for its catch-up mission: With a total four matches on home ground ahead, the team is optimistic of securing a place in the Last 16.

After the draw in the first match in Aalborg, Schaffhausen now want to turn onto winner’s way. But the Swiss must be wary as the Danes took a surprising bonus point in Valladolid.

Group D

HCM Constanta (ROU) – SG Flensburg-Handewitt (GER)
Thursday, 20:00 hrs (local time)

The opener of Round 7 might bring a decision in favour of Flensburg, but to the detriment of Constanta. 

The Germans can take a big step towards the Last 16 with a victory in Romania and will then hope for a Ciudad Real victory against St. Petersburg, as those results will enable them to qualify.

But after the defeat in Russia, Constanta, with their newly appointed coach Ion Crăciun, urgently need those points on home soil against the favoured Flensburg team.

HC Croatia Osiguranje Zagreb (CRO) – Bosna Sarajevo (BIH)
Saturday, 17:30 hrs (local time)

For Zagreb, it’s the same situation as for Flensburg – they can ‘almost’ qualify for the next stage with ten points.

The Croats have some feelings of revenge after the draw in the first part of this Balkan duel. Zagreb have to pay attention, especially to some Croat players, in the young Bosnian team.

If Sarajevo lose, they have missed their chance for the Last 16.

Renovalia Ciudad Real (ESP) – HC St. Petersburg (RUS)
Sunday, 19:00 hrs (local time)

One point would almost be enough, but a victory would end all mathematical games for Ciudad Real: The Spaniards can keep the lead or even extend it, if Zagreb and/or Flensburg stumble.

Ciudad are still unbeaten, and St. Petersburg have taken all four points on home ground. As they still have to play against Zagreb and in Flensburg, a victory would keep the Dujshebaev team in a comfortable position.

The Russians have three of their four last matches away from home, which reduces their chances for the next stage.

TEXT: Björn Pazen