Kiel and Kobenhavn show their dominanceArticle
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Still five participants for the Last 16 unknown after Round 9 – Plock miss match point to qualify, Kielce still can hope.

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Kiel and Kobenhavn show their dominance

The VELUX EHF Champions League will have a thrilling finish: Before the last Match Day only eleven of 16 participants of the Last 16 and only two Group winners are known. The 12 final Group Stage matches in Round 10 will have to bring the decisions.

On Sunday Wisla Plock missed the first match point top qualify for the next stage, whilst THW Kiel and AGK Kobenhavn proved their current strength before their direct duel for the Group victory next Sunday in Kobenhavn.

In Group B everything is completely open after the Füchse defeat in Madrid and the Kielce victory at Bjerringbro.

In Group A – where all matches had been played from Thursday to Saturday - defending champions FC Barcelona Intersport had lost at home against Zagreb on Saturday, but still is two points and 47 goals ahead before the last Round. IK Sävehof had qualified as third team for the Last 16 in this Group, as Kadetten Schaffhausen have best chances to follow, being two points and 44 goals ahead of Chambery Savoie.

Group B:

After the victory of Chekhovskie Medvedi against MKB Veszprem, Atletico Madrid had been known as Group winner before their match against Füchse Berlin – but had no problems in remaining unbeaten in this season with a clear victory against the Germans.

Aside Vive Targi Kielce built a good base by winning in Silkeborg with now ten points on their account like Veszprem. Medvedi and Füchse are equal with nine points. Those four teams fight in Round 10 for the three remaining places for the Last 16.

Bjerringbro-Silkeborg (DEN) vs. KS Vive Targi Kielce (POL) 26:37 (12:17)

The Poles climbed to the third place in VELUX EHF Champions League group B after this victory in Denmark, whilst Bjerringbro Silkeborg still wait for their first point. The first half started with a lot of goals. After the host led 5:4 Kielce changed their goalkeeper to Danish Markus Cleverly – and this means was successful, as the Poles turned the game and extended the gap to 12:7, 17:12 at the break and 19:12 in minute 32. The Danes reduced to 20:25 and 23:28 – but could not come closer anymore, in contrast: Thanks to a flying end and their top strikers Michal Jurecki and Grzegorz Tkaczyk , Kielce took a sovereign and clear victory.

Despite their strong goalkeeper Niklas Landin Bjerringbro Silkeborg had problems in defence and could not cope with the Poles, who will face Chekhovskie Medvedi in their final encounter for reaching the Last 16.

Statements after the match:

Bogdan Wenta, Coach KS Vive Targi Kielce: It was obvious that the game was more important for us than it was for Bjerringbro-Silkeborg. Bjerringbro-Silkeborg is better than what they showed today. It is a very strange group. With one match left we can end both as number five and number two.

Carsten Albrektsen, Coach Bjerringbro-Silkeborg: We are not good enough for this group. I am frustrated that we lost the last five minutes by 0:5. Kielce is a very strong team and they deserve to go through but it tells all about the strength in the group that Kielce might do not do it.

BM Atletico Madrid (ESP) vs. Füchse Berlin (GER) 32:27 (13:12)

The game was close for nearly 50 minutes, then Atletico Madrid was able to remain with a clear sheet. Füchse Berlin fought hard and were close until the 24:27 in the final stage of the game, but even six goals of Spaniard Iker Romero were not enough to bring a point or two for the Germans. Madrid’s top scorers were Källman and Markussen with each six goals.

Despite the clear final result (the biggest distance in the whole match), Madrid did not play the best they can and caused surprisingly many mistakes – but Berlin could not take the profit. Having the game against Bjerringbro-Silkeborg ahead in the last Round, the Germans still can hope for the Last 16, whilst Madrid had been known as Group winner already before. The only bad news was an injury of Luc Abalo – currently it is not clear if the French right wing will miss some matches.

Statements after the match:

Dagur Sigurdsson, coach Füchse Berlin: We played against a great experienced team, and even having our best day was not enough.

Talant Dushebajew, coach Atletico Madrid: I am satisfied with the game, especially as the audience had been phenomenal today. I have to congratulate the Füchse coach for his great team, and I hope they qualify for the Last 16. Today’s biggest winner was the handball, everybody could enjoy a great game.

Group C:

After the Metalurg victory in Plock the last two decisions of this Group are postponed to the last Round: the fourth participant of the Last 16 and the question, whether Metalurg or Koper rank second in the end.

Currently the Macedonians are one point ahead of the Slovenians, but have to face Group winner Hamburg in their last match of the Group Phase, whilst Koper have the home right against sixth ranked team from Constanta.

Thanks to their victory against Constanta and the home defeat of Plock, St. Petersburg still have chances to proceed to the Last 16. The Russians need to beat the Polish champions in the direct duel with a difference larger than four goals in their direct duel to proceed.

Orlen Wisla Plock (POL) vs. HC Metalurg (MKD) 20:24 (11:11)

Orlen Wisla Plock missed their first match point for reaching the Last 16 due to this defeat. A draw would have already meant the qualification for the next stage, but now the Poles must take their chances in Russia next weekend. Metalurg now have the fate in their hands – and again goalkeeper Darko Stanic was the key to success in Plock, aside the in total 15 goals of Kozlina (7) and Markovic (8) paved the winner’s way. Best Plock scorer was Kubisztal with six goals.

After an equal first half the Macedonians scored three straight times to 14:12, and after the 15:15 the guest team played dominant and sovereign. All tactical means of Plock coach Lars Walther failed, as his team was too weak in attack.

Group D:

The Group winner will be decided in the final clash of the titans next Sunday: As Kobenhavn and Kiel won their respective top matches in Montpellier and against Leon, both remain on top with a one point advantage for THW Kiel – so a draw in Kobenhavn for the Germans would be enough to become Group winner.

After their defeats, Leon is already known as third ranked team and surprisingly Montpellier will finish fourth ranked, which would mean that the French champions will face teams like Madrid, Barcelona/Zagreb or Hamburg already in the Last 16.

Montpellier Agglomeration (FRA) vs. AG Kobenhavn 27:31 (14:17)

The second home defeat means rank four in the end for Montpellier, no matter the result in their final game against Belgrade. Kobenhavn need to beat Kiel to win Group D in their first ever season in the VELUX EHF Champions League and proved again that they belong to the best teams of this competition.

Key factors of the match were the strong AGK goalkeepers Steinar Ege and Kasper Hvidt, the shooting duo Mikkel Hansen and Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson – and the weak start of the host, as the Danes led 5:0 after only ten minutes. Later-on the guest took the profit of this “early cushion” until the final whistle, the lowest distance were two goals, as Montpellier could not catch up again despite the nine goals of Nikola Karabatic.

Statements after the match:

Patrice Canayer, coach Montpellier: We were very tired and I am frustrated that we lost the match.

Magnus Andersson, coach Kobenhavn: I am very happy that my team have won this decisive match and that we still have the chance to become number one in the Group final against Kiel. I think we can beat any team in Europe, the key to success was our defence and our easiness in attack.

THW Kiel (GER) vs. Reale Ademar Leon (ESP) 38:28 (19:13)

After draw in the first leg THW Kiel was fully motivated to show their strength on home ground – and they really clashed the Spaniards in an absolutely one sided game. Leon was close only until the 9:6, then the THW express overran the Spaniards in a dominant way.

After the six goals difference at the break, Kiel extended the gap to 25:16 and at the 31:21 in minute 48 the distance was ten goals for the first time – like it was in the end. As Kiel scored from every position – and especially by counter attacks – Leon was too weak in attack to endanger the host.

TEXT: Björn Pazen