Late Sunday BrunchArticle
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We preview the second round of the EHF Women´s Champions League Main Round, which takes place this Sunday.

»EHF CL Channel »2011-12 Women's News

Late Sunday Brunch

The EHF Women´s Champions League Main Round started with four away victories last weekend.

Title holder Larvik celebrated victory in Denmark, whilst in the other Group 1 match, 'powerhouse' Győri Audi ETO took revenge for last year´s semi-final loss against Itxako by taking two vital points from Estella in Spain. In Group 2 both Oltchim and Budućnost maintained their favourite roles, each bringing home two points.

This coming Sunday women´s handball fans will gather again to enjoy four games of high quality handball. Their eyes will be glued to the telly, when their favourite team will enter the court to play the second round match.

Last weekend´s four winners will not meet each other in direct duels in Round 2, so any new victories could have an important bearing on the race for semi-final spots. has live coverage of the Group 1 match Győri Audi ETO (HUN) vs. FC Midtjylland (DEN) on Sunday, but regional restrictions apply.

For regional TV listings of all the EHF Women's Champions League matches click HERE.



Győri Audi ETO (HUN) vs. FC Midtjylland (DEN)
Sunday 12 February, 15:15 hrs (local time)

Live on (regional restrictions apply)

The Hungarians celebrated a desired away victory last weekend, and now they aim for maximum points in their home matches, whilst the Danes need to iron out their first round home failure against Larvik.

"We were undisciplined," said FCM´s Linnea Torstenson about the defeat. "We were simply not good enough. We must dare to be more direct and aggressive, and we must win our battles one on one," added a disappointed FCM coach Ryan Zinglersen.

His players did not have the necessary sharpness in their finishing and failed several times with clear-cut chances.

"I don’t feel we’ve seen the real picture of the team. Conceding 26 goals against Larvik is actually okay, but when we miss 8-10 clear-cut chances, then we just deepen the situation for ourselves," added Zinglersen.

On the FCM side everyone agreed that the team played a bad game but still they only lost by four goals. "We were doing well in the second half, but ended up losing in a bad fight, where one usually could easily have lost by 10-15 goals at this level," told Torstenson.

German international Sabine Englert knows the recipe: "In our next matches we have to be calmer in our attacking game plan and we should take more time to play the ball around."

The 30-year-old goalkeeper is still not 100% fit due to her ankle injury, which still hurts, but she says that "it´s the EHF Champions League. Once the adrenalin is running in your body, you cannot feel an injured ankle."

Győr´s players, on the other hand, were very happy that they defeated Itxako. The Hungarians controlled the second half and won deservedly by two goals.

"It was an extremely tough clash, which required full concentration for 60 minutes. We feel happy, but it´s only the beginning. Other big games are waiting for us," said pleased centre-back Andrea Lekić.

"The Main Round schedule favours us, as we will be hosts in the next two matches, and our aim is two further victories," added the 24-year-old.

The game against Itxako was a tough and challenging debut for coach Karl Erik Bøhn, the Norwegian who took control of Győr after the Group Phase. The placid trainer shuffled his cards for the match against the Spaniards and came up with several surprising solutions compared to the tactics of former coach Csaba Konkoly.

Bøhn spreads calmness and positive vibes to his players and believes that his side may triumph at the end of the EHF Champions League campaign.

Norwegian international Katrine Lunde Haraldsen stood rock-solid between the goal posts and her heroics gave great backing to her team-mates, who all contributed well to Győr´s away victory. The goalkeeper commented:"We fought hard and bravely last weekend, but suffered a few technical errors in our game plan. Still, I think we can play at a much higher level, and this we intend to prove in our upcoming games."

Larvik (NOR) vs. Grupo Asfi Itxako Navarra (ESP)
Sunday 12 February, 16:45 hrs (local time)

The re-match of last year´s EHF Champions League promises a close thriller. With a Larvik victory the Norwegians would be one step closer to the semi-final, whilst Itxako will be 'on fire' to take revenge for last year´s defeat and after their Main Round opener loss against Győr.

The latter game was amazingly tense until the dying seconds. Minor things decided it in favour of the Hungarian champions.

"Our nerves, coupled with our turnovers allowed the Hungarians to win this battle," analyzed coach Ambros Martín.

The Spaniards will have to forget this defeat quickly, as they have a tough and important schedule ahead: after a close match against Bera Bera in the domestic league and the meeting against Győri Audi ETO in the EHF Champions League, this week, similar strong opponents await playmaker Macarena Aguilar and her team-mates.

In a league duel her side defeated ambitious Mar Alicante with 32:24 on Wednesday evening.

The hosts from Norway marched right through FC Midtjylland in their Main Round opener. Despite a few fluctuations in the second period, the victory was never in danger.

Karoline Dyhre Breivang took responsibility from distance and her unorthodox goals surprised and totally shocked the Danes.

Linn Jørum Sulland hung on and mixed things up with sharp shots from distance and good plays to line player Isabel Blanco. The ex FCM player made the line her playground, scoring five times, and some of her actions resulted in 7 metre penalties. Blanco was happy about her quality return to Ikast: "I have been thinking about this clash for several weeks, and about my return to Denmark, etc. Now I´m very pleased about the victory and that I have succeeded so well in my own game at both ends of the court."

Despite a good start, Larvik´s staff had to report bad news about Tine Stange´s injury. The back-court player will be out for about 8-10 months which means that besides the EHF Champions League, she will miss the Olympic Games and next season´s start as well.

MRI examinations showed that the damage Stange sustained is an injury on both the anterior cruciate ligament, and the inner side and outer bands meniscus in her right knee.

After successful ACI reconstruction, it is normal to expect a rehabilitation period of 8-10 months before full return to handball courts.

Despite Stange´s injury Larvik are eager to welcome Itxako in their Arena and will look to the quality saves of Cecilie Leganger, who was one of team´s main pillars for the victory in Denmark.


C.S. Oltchim Rm. Vâlcea (ROU) vs. Metz Handball (FRA)
Sunday 12 February, 18:00 hrs (local time)

The Romanian champions successfully celebrated the EHF Champions League comeback of goalkeeper legend Luminiţa Dinu-Huţupan, whilst Metz delivered a tough fight to favourite Budućnost and only lost in the dying minutes.

Veteran Dinu-Huţupan has made a triumphant return to the elite competition that the goalkeeper has already won three times. She contributed greatly, with over 40% saving efficiency, to the Oltchim victory against Krim in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Petre Berbecaru, Oltchim´s chairman commented: "She has worked very hard with Frank Kuhn and played to her limits. To return to optimal weight Luminiţa went to a nutritionist whom she kept in with touch constantly. Within six weeks she lost 15 kilos."

Dinu-Huţupan said: "I was nervous playing in Ljubljana, as the city was my second home for six years of my career."

"Each of us contributed well to the game, and I especially need to emphasize the great role of our coaching staff. They have prepared us excellently for this clash. Let´s not talk about semi-finals yet. We still have five games to play. We´ll only think from game to game," added the 40-year-old.

"We wanted this victory, which is very important on the hilly road to the top. We defended well, were aggressive, and acted like a real team. We can now consider the semi-final, but we want to take each match seriously," told centre-back Aurelia Bradeanu.

Coach Radu Voina stressed that his side "celebrated an encouraging start, but despite the euphoria we must remain with both feet on the ground. The players were confident and fought bravely in defence. The team desired victory and we achieved it with hard work."

During the midweek, Oltchim continued their march in the domestic league by beating HCM Roman 39:22. Dinu-Huţupan was rested, so the team´s three other goalkeepers, Sanela Knezovic, Talida Tolnai, and Mihaela Smedescu, shared playing time between the posts.

Oltchim´s Sunday opponent, Metz, have become a strong unit that battled hard against last year´s semi-finalist Budućnost, but were unable to cause a surprise result and collect point(s). Coach Sébastien Gardillou analyzed: "The team did a tremendous job to destabilize Budućnost in their attacking, and we often cut the route to their line-player, but you must acknowledge the incredible skills of our opponents and their extraordinary player Bojana Popović."

Gardillou stressed the good defensive skills of his side in the second half and emphasized how much progress Metz have made in the EHF Champions League: "We are able to compete with strong opponents and for me this means that my players realize their true potential and deliver quality performances as agreed for our game plan prior to the match."

The trainer awaits a tough match in Rm. Vâlcea´s vociferous arena: "We will have to analyze our errors, and work a lot with video. I found there was some fluidity in the game and it still lacks a sharp outburst. Even so, our back-line with Claudine Mendy worked well against Budućnost. Kristina Liščević also delivered a good game, and she should bring even more. Overall I think we are on the right track."

Budućnost (MNE) vs. RK Krim Mercator (SLO)
Sunday 12 February, 19:00 hrs (local time)

A home victory in the Morača Arena is a must for Budućnost to maintain their semi-final dreams, whilst Krim will need point(s), otherwise the gap will be too big to the hosts and Oltchim after two rounds.

Coach Dragan Adžić´s team fulfilled the first important point in the recipe of how to reach a semi-final spot and celebrated an away victory after a great clash in France. Now, he and his side hope for three home victories in front of their numerous, loudly cheering spectators.

German international Clara Woltering produced a rock solid performance between the sticks of Budućnost and Bojana Popović was once again outstanding and responsible for goals in the dying minutes.

With two games on home soil Majda Mehmedović and her team-mates have the right schedule to collect four points in those duels. A triumph over Krim and another victory a week later against Oltchim would fully define the situation in Group 2.

Despite the mathematics, Krim want to disturb Budućnost´s plans and coach Tone Tiselj´s team aims for two points in Podgorica.

It will not be an easy challenge, as last year Krim lost both of their encounters against the Montenegrin champions. Their players have to improve greatly to stand a chance.

Liudmila Bodnieva and her team-mates tried hard to turn the match last weekend against Oltchim, but despite employing several different combinations they couldn´t rock the gates of the defensive wall and veteran keeper Dinu-Huţupan closed the shutters for several minutes.

All of the Krim players were very frustrated about the defeat, as those lost points would have been worth gold in race for a semi-final spot. Against Budućnost, a much improved performance will be required. Goalkeeper Jelena Grubišić is aware of that: "I think we shall focus more on ourselves, our game, and we have to improve on everything that was not working a week ago. If we do that and give maximum effort, then we don´t need to be afraid of anyone."

TEXT: Márk Hegedüs