Preview VELUX EHF Champions League Semi-Final 2Article
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Will HSV Hamburg be able to overcome recent history and defeat Renovalia Ciudad Real at the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in Cologne?

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Preview VELUX EHF Champions League Semi-Final 2

The second Spanish-German semi final duel at the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in Cologne sees Renovalia Ciudad Real take on HSV Hamburg at the LANXESS arena this evening.

Renovalia Ciudad Real go into the game as favourites having eliminated HSV Hamburg in the last three seasons of the EHF Champions League. All three encounters were highly tense, tough and thrilling clashes.

In 2008 and 2009 the Spaniards beat HSV on their way to reaching the EHF Champions League finals and last season they again beat their German opponents, this time in the quarter-finals, on their way to the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in Cologne.

However, HSV Hamburg can take hope from winning their first ever German Bundesliga title two weeks ago and that their match against Renovalia Ciudad Real is a winner-takes-all encounter with HSV Hamburg just one step away from reaching their first ever final of the VELUX EHF Champions League.

The road to Cologne has been a completely different journey for both teams. HSV encountered some problems in the Group Stage with defeats in Kolding, Veszprem and Montpellier and a draw in Presov whilst Renovalia Ciudad Real have the best form out of all four VELUX EHF FINAL4 teams in Cologne with only two defeats in 14 matches, both against the Germans from Flensburg.

The Spaniards can traditionally count on the best defence in the whole VELUX EHF Champions League. Didier Dinart and the two goalkeepers Arpad Sterbik and Jose Xavier Hombrados (five time EHF Champions League winner with three clubs) who build a solid concrete wall for every attacking team to face.

Despite losing important players the Renovalia Ciudad Real attack is still formidable. Right wing Luc Abalo is one of the most spectacular players in international handball, Kiril Lazarov never misses the target and left wing Jonas Källman is highly effective in counter attacks.

Renovalia Ciudad Real have won the EHF Champions League three times (2006, 2008, 2009) with a winning record when playing against German teams, especially in the last three years. “We don’t mind that we will face another German champion again,”  said coach Talant Dujshebaew ahead of the clash and despite his side losing last year’s semi final in Cologne against THW Kiel, neither Chambery nor Flensburg could stop the Spaniards on their way to Cologne.

Opponents HSV Hamburg have played some of their very best handball this season in the German Bundesliga and have carried this through to the VELUX EHF Champions League from the knock-out stages onwards.

In the Last 16 they beat Cuatro Rayas Valladolid twice, crushed Chekhosvkie Medvedi with a 14 goal margin in the first leg of the quarter-finals and a draw in Russia was enough for the side to make the short journey south  to Cologne for the VELUX EHF FINAL4.

HSV Hamburg have a strong squad which features the strong Croatian trio of Blazenko Lackovic, Igor Vori and Domagoj Duvnjak. Another key to their success in Cologne will be their right wing and counter attack specialist Hans Lindberg from Denmark.  HSV also have two pairs of brothers in their team with the Bertrand and Guillaume Gilles from France and Krzysztof and Marcin Lijewski from Poland.

“We are highly motivated to end this series of defeats against Renovalia Ciudad Real and reach the final,” said HSV Hamburg team captain Bertrand Gille.

If HSV left wing Torsten Jansen scores three goals or more in the game he will be the first player in the HSV club history to score more than 1300 goals.