Re-start with decisive duelsArticle
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Preview on Round 5 of the VELUX EHF Champions League.

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Re-start with decisive duels

After a three week break the VELUX EHF Champions League restarts this week with the fifth Round – with the same encounters as on the upcoming weekend, when the rematches of those games will already take place.

As teams like FC Barcelona Intersport, Atletico Madrid or HSV Hamburg can make huge steps towards the Last 16, others will have to fight for their chance to take their first points or victories.

Round 5 starts with three matches on Wednesday.

Group A

IK Sävehof (SWE) vs. Kadetten Schaffhausen (SUI)
Thursday, 19:00 hrs local time

Both teams are equal in points after one victory each against Bosna – and only the winner of this duel will be able to catch-up with the leading trio. Schaffhausen showed some extra-ordinary performance against top teams, but has not been awarded with points, so the Swiss champions might be in favour against the Swedish hosts.

HC Bosna Gas Sarajevo (BIH) vs. FC Barcelona Intersport (ESP)
Saturday, 19:00 hrs local time

An unequal duel in the Bosnian capital: on the one hand Barcelona, one of only two teams with a clear spot and eight points on their account, and on the other Bosna, still waiting for the first points. The roles are clearly settled, even as Barcelona coach Xavi Pascual has respect for Bosna, known to be usually much stronger at home than away. The match will be something special for Bosnian Barca goalkeeper Danijel Saric.

Chambery Savoie (FRA) vs. Croatia Osiguranje Zagreb (CRO)
Sunday, 17:00 hrs local time

The "Match of the Week" will bring a decision about hunter number 1 of FC Barcelona Intersport. Both teams only lost against the Catalans and have six points on their account, both teams are clearly underway to the Last 16 – but as the final position is highly decisive for the knock-out stage this match will be a real tough clash. Chambery showed highly strong performances at home and were even close to beat Barcelona, Zagreb start with big confidence after an also nearly even game against the Catalan favourites.

Group B

Füchse Berlin (GER) vs. MKB Veszprem (HUN)
Wednesday, 19:15 hrs. Local time

Another hunters’ duel: Only the winner will remain in close distance to group leader Atletico Madrid. Debutants Füchse have a good run in the German league same as Veszprem in Hungary. And on the German side top newcomer Iker Romero fits better with every match, as Veszprem can count on their "goal machine" Marko Vujin. With the home right on their side, Füchse should be able to get those important points.

KS Vive Targi Kielce (POL) vs. BM Atletico Madrid (ESP)
Wednesday, 20:00 hrs local time

With two straight victories on their account and backed by their frenetic spectators the Polish runners-up are "high" for this clash against the Spaniards. With another victory Kielce would not only take an important step towards the Last 16, but also bring new tension in this group. But despite playing in the lion’s den the still unbeaten team from Madrid are the favourites in this game, which will be special for Polish international Jurkiewicz.

Bjerringbro-Silkeborg (DEN) vs. Chekhovskie Medvedi (RUS)
Sunday, 16:50 hrs local time

One thought before the start of this VELUX EHF Champions League season that this game would bring an early decision about what team could be out of the race to the knock-out stage, would have been smiled at. But as both teams still do not have a single victory on their account, this game is highly decisive. Chekhovskie have tied twice, as Bjerringbro have no point on their account despite some strong performances. The former VELUX EHF FINAL4 participants from Russia urgently need a victory if they want to catch up to the top four.

Group C

HC St. Petersburg (RUS) vs. RK Cimos Koper (SLO)
Wednesday, 20:00 hrs. local time

If the Russian runners-up take both points, the group is absolutely open again, whilst a Cimos Koper victory would mean more than a hint for the rest of the Group Stage, as then the distance between both clubs would already be three points. The match will be an open encounter. On paper Koper have the stronger roster, but St. Petersburg are known for their strength at home, having taken all three points on their ground.

Orlen Wisla Plock (POL) vs. HSV Hamburg (GER)
Saturday, 15:00 local time

Despite their still long list of injured player HSV are the favourites at the Polish champions. The Germans, who can count on Michael Kraus again, have the optimum of eight points, as Plock have two home victories on their account. A Plock victory would equalize the group totally, and as Koper have shown in the last round, when they were nearly equal to HSV, the Germans are not unbeatable.

HC Metalurg (MKD) vs. HCM Constanta (ROU)
Saturday, 20:00 hrs local time

It is one of the last chances for HCM Constanta to catch up with the rest of the group, as the Romanian champions are still without any point. But the hurdle in Skopje will be high, as Metalurg not only have the more experienced players, but the home strength on their side. Another victory would mean a comfortable cushion for the next rounds for the FYR Macedonian champions.

Group D

Reale Ademar Leon (ESP) vs. AG Kobenhavn (DEN)
Saturday, 19:00 hrs local time

The game in Leon is the first huge away challenge for group leaders Kobenhavn. The Danish champions – with the optimum of six points from three matches – are on a high flyer after beating Montpellier, but they have to be aware. Leon underlined their home strength with the last second draw against Kiel. The well balanced Kobenhavn team with their outstanding shooter Mikkel Hansen will have to proof their ambitions against this strong defending collective. One of the top duels of this game will be the encounter of the two leading wing players Martin Stranovsky (Leon) and Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson (Kobenhavn).

Pick Szeged (HUN) vs. Montpellier Agglomeration HB (FRA)
Saturday, 16:15 hrs. local time

Montpellier travel to Hungary with some injury problems: Michael Guigou had to undergo surgery again and Nikola Karabatic missed the French national team friendly matches due to some knee problems. After winning against Beograd, Szeged have new hopes, but the French champions are the favourites even as they lost their last match in Kobenhavn.

THW Kiel (GER) vs. Partizan Beograd (SRB)
Sunday, 17:00 hrs local time

Another uneven encounter, as Kiel are one of the favourites for reaching the VELUX EHF FINAL4 and the youngsters from Serbia have been taught some international lessons by their opponents up to now. But as the THW fortress was taken by Montpellier and Kiel currently have only one international victory on their account, Beograd may hope for a sensation. But the domestic series of Kiel speaks for itself: They just scored a new starting record in the Bundesliga with 24:0 points after twelve matches. THW will have to replace captain Markus Ahlm for some weeks after a knee injury.

TEXT: Björn Pazen