Top Clashes in All Four GroupsArticle
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There are some mouth-watering match-ups in Round 4 of the VELUX EHF Champions League which begins on Wednesday.

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Top Clashes in All Four Groups

There are some mouth-watering match-ups in Round 4 of the VELUX EHF Champions League which begins on Wednesday, with Füchse Berlin playing host to BM Atletico Madrid, while in Bröndby it is Karabatic versus Hansen.

After a break of just three days since Round 3, the VELUX EHF Champions League begins Round 4 on Wednesday. And in all four groups the teams ranked first and second will meet in winner-take-all clashes, before a three-week break for international matches.

Among the top games in Round 4 are RK CO Zagreb vs. FC Barcelona Intersport in Group A, Füchse Berlin vs. Atletico Madrid in Group B, Cimos Koper vs. HSV Hamburg in Group C and AG Kobenhavn vs. MAHB Montpellier in Group D.

Group A:

IK Sävehof (SWE) vs. Bosna BH Gas Sarajevo
Thursday, 19:10 hrs (local time)

Neither of these two sides have any points from their first three games in Group A. With three defeats each, the two teams know that only the winner is still in with a chance of reaching the Last 16.

Chambery Savoie (FRA) vs. Kadetten Schaffhausen (SUI)
Saturday, 20:30 hrs (local time)

After a close defeat in Barcelona, Chambery Savoie showed their promise with subsequent victories over Bosna and Sävehof. The French runners-up start as favourites in nearly every home match, and this will also be the case against Kadetten. Swiss champions Schaffhausen have also shown they can play well - especially at home - but so far their only VELUX EHF Champions League victory has been in Sarajevo. If Kadetten win the two teams will be level, but if Chambery take the victory it will put them four points clear.

Croatia Osiguranje Zagreb (CRO) vs. FC Barcelona Intersport (ESP)
Saturday, 20.15 hrs (local time)

These teams played each other in the Last 16 two years ago, when FC Barcelona Intersport had no problems securing victory over Zagreb in both matches. But this season both teams lead the ranking with six points each – and Zagreb is looking forward to the chance to beat the defending champions. For the Croatian champions it is already their third home match – and will be the highlight of the Group phase. For FC Barcelona coach Xavi Pascual, Zagreb are their main challenger in the fight for top spot.

Group B:

MKB Veszprem (HUN) vs. Chekhovskie Medvedi (RUS)
Saturday, 16:15 hrs (local time)

After defeats in Round 3, both these teams will be aiming to bounce back at the famous Veszprem Arena and catch up with the leading duo in the group. The Hungarian’s defeat at Madrid was no surprise compared to Chekhovskie’s home loss against Kielce. With only two points from three matches the Russians are still looking for their first win after a disappointing start. Always strong at home, Veszprem will start as favourites, while another defeat for Chekhovskie could put their spot in the Last 16 in doubt.

KS Vive Targi Kielce (POL) vs. Bjerringrbo Silkeborg (DEN)
Sunday, 15:00 hrs (local time)

After winning in Chekhov and taking their first points, Kielce will go into their latest clash full of confidence against the Danish debutants. Bjerringbro Silkeborg have played well in all their first three matches, but have not taken a single point and if they want to maintain their chances of reaching the Last 16 they need a victory against the Wenta team. However, the Poles are much stronger at home than in away matches, even though they lost against Füchse on home ground.

Füchse Berlin (GER) vs. BM Atletico Madrid (ESP)
Sunday, 15:30 hrs (local time)

This clash will give the Foxes their toughest test yet on home ground in their first ever VELUX EHF Champions League season. But are Berlin ready to take the challenge against the three times EHF Champions League winner? Up to 10,000 spectators will be present to see which of the teams remains unbeaten on Sunday. Atletico Madrid arrive in the German capital full of confidence after beating Veszprem in Round 3. Füchse surprised their opponents with a strong away performance at Bjerringrbo Silkeborg. The Match of the Week will be a special one for Berlin’s Spaniard Iker Romero, who played for two years at Ciudad Real, the forerunner of Atletico Madrid. The last time he faced his former team mates was in the final of the VELUX EHF FINAL4 2011, when Romero and Barcelona took the title.

Group C:

HC St. Petersburg (RUS) vs. HCM Constanta (ROU)
Wednesday, 19:00 hrs (local time)

In last season’s VELUX EHF Champions League both these teams won the home clash against the other – but neither went on to reach the Last 16. And the same could happen again this season as both St. Petersburg and Constanta are still looking for their first victory. The Russians have a slight edge with home advantage and one point already in the bag, but for both sides in this clash another defeat will spell the end of their Last 16 ambitions.

HC Metalurg (MKD) vs. Orlen Wisla Plock (POL)
Thursday, 19:00 hrs (local time)

Both sides desperately need a victory in this mid-table Round 4 clash If Metalurg take the points against Orlen Wisla Plock they might be able to reach the second place if Cimos Koper lose against Hamburg. The FYR Macedonian qualifier already have three points, just one less than their opponent from Poland. If Metalurg can continue their performance of the last 20 minutes of Round 3 in Hamburg, they have a good chance of victory. Plock had no problems in beating St. Petersburg in Round 3.

RK Cimos Koper (SLO) vs. HSV Hamburg (GER)
Sunday, 19:00 hrs (local time)

Slovenia welcomes a Slovenian for this clash: As HSV Hamburg transferred Renato Vugrinec from Qatar after several injury problems, this match will be a special one for the former Slovenian international in his home country. Cimos Koper won their last two matches after they had slipped up in Skopje in their opener, while Hamburg have taken three clear victories despite still missing some key players. The German champions will start as favourites, but have to be aware of the home strength and the frenetic spectators at the Adriatic coast.

Group D:

Reale Ademar Leon (ESP) vs. THW Kiel (GER)
Saturday, 17:00 hrs (local time)

Reale Ademar Leon proved a tough opponent for THW throughout last season – as it is hard for nearly every club to take the points from the lion’s den in Leon. Two years ago Kiel were relieved to take a draw. The Spaniards have won their games against Szeged and Beograd and are above the two times winner of the VELUX EHF Champions League – as the Kiel match against Kobenhavn was postponed to 18 December. But Kiel want to take revenge for the home defeat against Montpellier – so a tough clash is in prospect and a close scoreline is anticipated.

RK Partizan Beograd (SRB) vs. Pick Szeged (HUN)
Sunday, 19:00 hrs (local time)

Both teams will be desperate for victory in this clash, with defeat meaning the end of their hopes of reaching the Last 16. A tough group draw has meant that neither side has any points. Thanks to their bigger international experience, the Hungarians will start as slight favourites for the win, especially as the match will not be a real home game for Beograd, as they play in Vrsac once again.

AG Kobenhavn (DEN) vs. Montpellier Agglomeration HB (FRA)
Sunday, 16:50 hrs (local time)

Mikkel Hansen vs. Nikola Karabatic – the fight from the Final of the World Championship 2011 - continues in the VELUX EHF Champions League. In Malmö, MVP Karabatic helped France get the better of Denmark and World Championship top scorer Hansen – but now Kobenhavn want to take revenge. After their impressive away victory at Kiel, Montpellier will be hoping to secure a second consecutive away win. But the Karabatic/Hansen duel isn’t the only excitement at the Bröndby Arena – there will also be intriquing match-ups between French shooter William Accambray and Danish goalkeeping legend Kasper Hvidt, or the line player duels of the tough fighters Joachim Boldsen and Issem Tej, or the battle of wingers Vid Kavticnik and Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson.

TEXT: Björn Pazen