It's all about the mathsArticle
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Round 9 Preview of the VELUX EHF Champions League – nearly everything can be decided on Sunday.

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It's all about the maths

Only one single round remains in the Group Phase of the VELUX EHF Champions League. Mathematically, all 16 participants of the Last 16 and all four group winners can be known on Sunday – but only mathematically! explains the situation in all four groups:

Group A:

Kadetten Schaffhausen (SUI) vs. Chambery Savoie (FRA)
Thursday, 20:00 hrs local time

The most exciting duel of Group A in Round 9: Both teams are equal with six points – and both teams still hope for the qualification to the Last 16. The French runners-up won the first leg 33:29, and another victory would earn Chambery a ticket to the knock-out stage, regardless of all other results.

If Kadetten win with a difference of five goals or more, the Swiss champions will have not only won the match, but will also qualifiy for the Last 16 if Sävehof wins at Sarajevo on Saturday. If both teams tie, the final round will have to decide – and then Chambery will have it a bit easier as they play at home against Bosna while Schaffhausen will have to play away in Zagreb.

FC Barcelona Intersport (ESP) vs. RK Croatia Osiguranje Zagreb (CRO)
Saturday, 16:15 hrs local time

Above all others, this is match that will decide the group winner: Barcelona is already ahead of Zagreb with four points, after the surprising defeat of the Croats at Sävehof last Sunday. Therefore, the Catalans only need one more point to secure first place. Zagreb does not only need to win in Barcelona to become the group winner in the end, but will also have to beat Kadetten, and at the same time Barca then needs to lose at Sävehof in Round 10. The defending champions won the first leg 31:30 in Zagreb.

HC Bosna BH Gas Sarajevo (BIH) vs. IK Sävehof (SWE)
Saturday, 19:00 hrs local time

The Swedish champions hold their fate in their own hands: By winning in Sarajevo they would already qualify for the Last 16. However, in the case of a draw, if Kadetten and Chambery were to tie or íf they lose, this would surely be a tough kickback to their hopes.

But Sävehof are the favourites in this game, and not only because of their 24:20 victory in the first leg, but also beacuse Bosna lost several key players since then and still have no point on their record.

If Sävehof proceeds to become one of the top 16 teams, it would be their premiere since the implementation of the new playing system: no Swedish club has qualified for the Last 16 since 2009.

Group B:

Chekhovskie Medvedi (RUS) vs. MKB Veszprem (HUN)
Thursday, 19:00 hrs local time

Two defeated teams from Round 8 now fight for the Last 16 – but the constellation set for this direct duel is quite different. MKB Veszprem only need a draw in order to proceed while Chekhovskie Medvedi need more than two points from their last two matches to qualify for the Last 16. The Hungarians (10 points) won the first leg 24:22 and are ahead of the fifth ranked Bears from Russia with three points .

Bjerringbro-Silkeborg (DEN) vs. KS Vive Targi Kielce (POL)
Sunday, 15:30 hrs local time

Bjerrinbro (still zero points) are out of the race for the knock-out stage – but the Danes still want to take this last opportunity in their last home match to earn some points. Even as the Poles arrive with huge self-confidence after winning in Veszprem last Saturday, Kielce has to be aware. If they win and Medvedi loses against Veszprem, the qualificant would already qualify for the Last 16 – otherwise, the final decisions are postponed to the final round, where Kielce will face Medvedi at home.

BM Atletico Madrid (ESP) vs. Füchse Berlin (GER)
Sunday, 15:45 hrs local time

A draw is enough for Atletico Madrid to finish as group winner and for Füchse Berlin to qualify for the Last 16.  If Chekhovskie loses against Veszprem beforehand – the constellation will be a duel between the first and third ranked team.

The Spaniards had won the first time around at Berlin, 37:33, which caused the first ever VELUX EHF Champions League home defeat in the history of the German runners-up. In their respective leagues, both teams currently rank second.

MATCH OF THE WEEK: Handball fans can also watch the match live at with full English commentary live from the venue. Click on the link on Sunday to watch the action.

Group C:

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

Hamburg is already the group winner, but the Germans are a decisive factor in the duel for ranks two and three: In Round 9, HSV face Cimos Koper at home, and in Round 10 they play in Skopje. Currently, both of their opponents have equal points. Hamburg has won all eight matches up to now and are certainaly the favourites against Koper, too.

HCM Constanta (ROU) vs. St. Petersburg HC (RUS)
Thursday, 20:00 hrs local time

The decision about the fourth participant of Group C for the Last 16 will already be decided on Thursday evening: If St. Petersburg HC does not win at Constanta, then Plock is the lucky winner as the Poles can book their ticket to the knock-out stage. Constanta won their only points at home, and St. Petersburg (27:25 winner in the first leg) is still waiting for their first away point.

Perhaps Plock has already qualified for the Last 16 before the starting whistle blows, but nevertheless the Polish champions want to take revenge for the 27:31 loss at Skopje in the first leg, and by winning this game, Plock can catch-up to a mere one point difference to the Macedonian champions.

Group D:

Pick Szeged (HUN) vs. Partizan Beograd (SRB)
Saturday, 16:15 hrs local time

Szeged – with current VELUX EHF Champions League top scorer Frantisek Sulc (59 goals) on their side- wants to say farewell to their fans with a victory, and the chances are good as the Serbians still do not have any points on their record. Both teams are already out of the race for the knock-out stage.

Montpellier Agglomeration (FRA) vs. AG Kobenhavn (DEN)
Sunday, 17:00 hrs local time

The game of the games in Round 9: Can Montpellier stop their downswing after their defeat in Leon? The French champions could mathematically rank second in the end, but Kobenhavn and Leon have to lose both games, and the French champions would also have to win both games.

Montpellier currently ranks fourth as they are five points below Kiel, four points below Kobenhavn and three points below Leon. Plus, the Danes want to repeat their successful 31:29 victory that they performed in the first leg.

THW Kiel (GER) vs. Reale Ademar Leon (ESP)
Sunday, 18:45 hrs. local time

If Kobenhavn lose and Kiel win later-on, then THW are already the winner of Group D. Leon showed their strength in the last matches, including victories against Kobenhavn and Montpellier and the draw against the Germans in the first leg. 

However, the Spaniards are known to be stronger on home ground than in away matches, but nonetheless, THW is flying on the wings of five straight victories in the VELUX EHF Champions League after the draw in Leon.

TEXT: Björn Pazen