Desperate Battle for Final Places in Last 16Article
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The race for the knockout stages is in full swing with exciting clashes expected in Montpellier and Chechow in Round Seven.

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Desperate Battle for Final Places in Last 16

The race for the knockout stages is in full swing with exciting clashes expected in Montpellier and Chekhov in Round Seven.

After HSV Hamburg became the first club to qualify for the Last 16 last weekend, up to six more clubs can follow the German champions in Round 7.

The VELUX EHF Champions League will take a break after Round 7 for the Men's EHF EURO 2012 in Serbia and return on 8 February 2012, although Group D teams Pick Szeged, AG Kobenhavn, Montpellier Agglomeration and THW Kiel will play rearranged matches on Sunday 18 December (read the story HERE).


FC Barcelona Intersport (ESP) vs. Kadetten Schaffhausen (SUI)
Saturday, 16:15 hrs (local time)

Swiss champions Schaffhausen broke a run of four straight defeats with a good 40:32 victory against Sävehof in their last match, but they will still start as underdogs in Barcelona as the defending champions of the VELUX EHF Champions League have marched through the Group Phase like a knife through warm butter. The Catalans only need a single point to secure early qualification for the Last 16 – but knowing their hunger, they will want to finish top of the group. The first match at Switzerland was quite close until the final stage, but in the end Barca secured a 30:26 victory.

HC Bosna Gas Sarajevo (BIH) vs. Croatia Osiguranje Zagreb (CRO)
Saturday, 19:00 hrs (local time)

If Zagreb win at their neighbours - or at least draw like last season (and Kadetten and Sävehof both lose) - the Croats will qualify for the Last 16 on Saturday. Not only because of the 33:19 home victory in the first game against Bosna, Zagreb are the clear favourites in this match.

IK Sävehof (SWE) vs. Chambery Savoie (FRA)
Sunday, 15:10 hrs (local time)

Chambery Savoie’s fate is far from certain as they sit mid-table. After two defeats against Zagreb, the French runners-up are far behind the leading teams and defeat in Sweden on Sunday would leave them even further off the pace and level with Sävehof. However, despite their current injury list Chambery are the favourites in Sweden. Sävehof have won all four points on home ground, and only lost to Chambery 30:33 in their first match in France.


Chekhovskie Medvedi (RUS) vs. Atletico Madrid (ESP)
Thursday, 19:00 hrs (local time)

Just like the 30:30 draw in the first encounter in Spain, a draw would be enough for Atletico to qualify for the Last 16. But Medvedi have shown their teeth in the last matches with two straight victories. The Russian champions are more dangerous at home than in away matches, but went close to a victory in Madrid. A Russian success would bring more tension to this very close group and would reduce the gap between both teams to three points.

Bjerringbro Silkeborg (DEN) vs. MKB Veszprem (HUN)
Sunday, 16:50 hrs (local time)

A home victory is the dream of Bjerringrbo Silkeborg, who are already on a farewell tour having secured no points and looking likely to miss out on the Last 16. On the other hand Veszprem (missing injured Mirsad Terzic) will have to show how they have coped with the surprising clear 24:33 home defeat against Füchse Berlin. The Hungarians secured a clear 32-25 win in their first match.

Vive Targi Kielce (POL) vs. Füchse Berlin (GER)
Sunday, 15:45 hrs (local time)

The 30:27 scoreline from the first encounter was the first ever victory for Füchse Berlin in the VELUX EHF Champions League – and after the sensational win at Veszprem they are flying on the wings of success. Another victory in Kielce would be an important milestone on the way to the Last 16. But Kielce are also confident as they were close to a win at Madrid, and the Polish champions urgently need two points to remain in sight of Medvedi and Füchse.


HSV Hamburg (GER) vs. HCM Constanta (ROU)
Thursday, 19:00 hrs (local time)

After already qualifying for the Last 16, HSV Hamburg are now aiming to finish the group stages unbeaten. And on Thursday the German champions are the overwhelming favourites against Constanta, even despite the Romanians having taken their first victory this season in Round 6 against Metalurg. Constanta lost the first match on home ground 26:34.

Orlen Wisla Plock (POL) Cimos Koper (SLO)
Saturday, 15:00 hrs (local time)

The Polish champions’ hopes of reaching the Last 16 are hanging by a thread with four points from six matches, but another home victory would give them a big step towards the Last 16. Cimos Koper on the other hand can already reach the Last 16 with a victory at Plock as long as Constanta lose. The Slovenians had to fight hard in the first match to beat Plock 27:24.

HC Metalurg (MKD) vs. HC St. Petersburg (RUS)
Saturday, 18:00 hrs (local time)

Like Koper, Metalurg can reach the knockout stage this weekend. After their surprise defeat at Constanta, the FYR Macedonians want to show their real strength in their home arena, where they took three victories in three matches. For St. Petersburg it is one of their last chances to remain in the race – the first match ended with a dramatic draw (25:25). If they win and Constanta lose in Hamburg, Metalurg will reach the Last 16.


Pick Szeged (HUN) vs. AG Kobenhavn (DEN)
Sunday, 15:00 hrs (local time)

The Danish champions are back on track after their close victory over Leon at home – and the group leaders have Olafur Stefansson back from injury. But the task for Kobenhavn will not be as easy as in the first match when they beat Pick Szeged 36:24. The Hungarians took confidence from their home victory against Montpellier, and by winning against the Danes Pick put themselves back in the race for the Last 16. An AGK win would mean their early qualification for the knockout stage.

Montpellier Agglomeration (FRA) vs. THW Kiel (GER)
Sunday, 17:15 hrs (local time)

It was one of the biggest surprises so far when Montpellier took the points from Kiel in the first match (24:23). But times have changed, with Kiel overtaking the French champions in the Group. Both teams have one match less – so the encounter in Perols will prove crucial for the top positions in this group. Montpellier still miss Michael Guigou, and they lost their last two matches (away in Leon and Kobenhavn), but on home ground they are much stronger.

RK Partizan Beograd (SRB) vs. Reale Ademar Leon (ESP)
Sunday, 19:00 hrs (local time)

Despite their close defeat in Denmark where they gave away the lead, Leon will still start as big favourites in Beograd. The Serbs played well in their encounter in Kiel, but still have no points. However, Leon have to be on their guard as the first match was only a close 33:28 victory.

TEXT: Andrew McSteen