Two Spanish teams close to the quartersArticle
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Clear Barcelona victory against Veszprem, Ciudad take points from Chambery. Löwen win in Zagreb and “Bears” in Sarajevo.

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Two Spanish teams close to the quarters

The first leg of the Last 16 of the VELUX EHF Men’s Champions League has been completed – and mostly the favoured teams started with victories. Barcelona won the biggest clash against Veszprem and Chekhovskie did in Sarajevo. Löwen (in Zagreb) and Ciudad Real (in Chambery) were happy about close wins.

The return matches of the Last 16 starts on Thursday, the draw for the Quarterfinals will be carried on Monday 4 April, in Vienna.

Last 16, first leg:

Chambery Savoie (FRA) – Renovalia Ciudad Real (ESP) 24:27 (11:15)

Arpad Sterbik again made the difference: The goalkeeper paved the way to the Quarterfinals for Ciudad Real with 18 saves, as his counterpart, Cyril Dumoulin, also had a brilliant day.

As expected it was hard work for the Spaniards to take the points from the Alps. Intermediately it looked like a clear result, but as Chambery fought until the end the final distance were only two goals. The top scorer was Edin Basic, who scored eight times for Chambery, three Ciudad players hit the back of the net three times.

Before the break, Sterbik pulled off an incredible 14 saves. His team on the other hand had problems in attack, but stood well in defenc. After Chambery led 5:4 Ciudad Real improved due to a movable and highly offensive defenc. They snatched several balls and finished their interceptions with counter attack goals. At 10:7 the distance was three goals for the first time – by the break it had risen to four.

Losing their rhythm completely, the host could not stop the Spanish express in the first 17 minutes of the second half. Ciudad Real pre-decided the game with the score of 25:18 – but then the catch-up chase of the French started. Thanks to a 6:1 series Chambery had the chance to level 70 seconds before the end at the score of 24:26 – but then Rodriguez decided the game. Thanks to this victory in the lion’s den of Chambery, Ciudad has a great basis for reaching the Quarterfinals.

FC Barcelona-Borges (ESP) – MKB Veszprem 28:21 (14:13)

Just as in 2010, FC Barcelona Borges have best chances of going on to the knock-out stage after a clear home victory against MKB Veszprem.

Thanks to a clear improvement after the break the Catalans have best chances to stand the pressure in the return match in the frenetic atmosphere in Hungary with this seven goal advantage. Top scorers were Tomas (six goals for Barca) and Sulic (five for Veszprem).

Veszprem, missing goalkeeper Nandor Fazekas, had problems in attack, as CL top scorer Marko Vujin only scored three goals, all from the penalty line. The starting period was imprinted by the goalkeepers Peric (Veszprem) and Sjöstrand (Barcelona), who were equal with 19 saves in the end. No team could extend the gap, as Barcelona led most of the time. At the break the distance was only one goal.

In the second half, the Catalans improved both in defence and attack – and increased the gap to four goals in the 41 minutes. The Hungarians fought hard to return and their last sign of life was the intermediate result of 21:19 – before Brace overran them like an avalance in the last 14 minutes. Thanks to six straight goals from 23:20 to 28:20 Barca decided the game and increased their chances of reaching the Quarterfinals.

RK Croatia Ossiguranje Zagreb (CRO) – Rhein Neckar Löwen (GER) 28:31 (12:15)

Fourth victory of the fourth German team in this Round: Like HSV, THW and Flensburg before them, the Löwen made a huge step towards the Quarterfinals after their first ever victory in Zagreb. Match winner was left wing Uwe Gensheimer, who scored ten goals for the Löwen.

The German were in the lead nearly throughout the 60 minutes – in average with a three goal distance before the break.

But they had to stand against a strong Zagreb period in the first part of the second half when RK equalized at the score of 21:21 after three straight goals and several saves of goalkeeper Gorazd Skof.

But thanks to a 3:1 series Löwen again took the heads up – but nothing was decided before the final minute. 70 seconds before the end Zagreb again had the chance to level the game at the 28:29, before Löwen decided the match by the last two goals.

Bosna Sarajevo (BIH) – Chekhovski Medvedi (RUS) 22:31 (7:16)

The easiest of all victories: Last season’s VELUX EHF FINAL4 participant Chekhovskie Medvedi has stepped through the gate to the Quarterfinals with more than one foot.

The Russians did not have any problems in Sarajevo as they were physical, tactical and individual superior. Thanks to an early 6:2 start Chekhov dominated the game until the final whistle. Bosna could not cope with the strong attacking players of the Russians.

In the 26th minut, the gap was ten goals for the first time at 15:5, at the break it was still nine goals. As the Bosna defence was far too open, the Russians went though them like a knife through hot butter.

Only in the final stage when the “Bears” decelerated, the Bosnians were able to come closer – but far away from the chance to endanger the guest.

TEXT: Björn Pazen