Who will follow THW Kiel?Article
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Preview of the second leg of the Last 16: Five tough fights expected, whilst Madrid and Kobenhavn have easy tasks ahead.

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Who will follow THW Kiel?

As THW Kiel have already qualified with two victories over Orlen Wisla Plock, 14 teams fight on Saturday and Sunday for the qualification to the VELUX EHF Champions League quarter-finals.

Atletico Madrid and AG Kobenhavn have the best base for reaching the next round after their clear away victories in the first leg, all five other duels are very close – and will guarantee cracking games in the re-matches.

According to the VELUX EHF Champions League regulations those teams qualify for the quarter-finals which have gained more points in the direct duels. If the number of points is equal, the goal difference decides. If both teams have scored the same number of goals, the greater number of away goals decide. If team A win the second leg with exactly the same result they had lost the first leg (30:28, 28:30 for example) a penalty shoot-out will have to bring the decision, no extra time will follow.

The draw for the next part of the knockout stage will take place on 27 March in Vienna – and the eventual winners have already been placed in lots, as follows:

Pot 1: THW Kiel and the winners of the duels Barcelona/Montpellier, Hamburg/Berlin and Madrid/Schaffhausen

Pot 2: Winners of the duels: Zagreb/Metalurg, Koper/Kielce, Kobenhavn/Sävehof and Veszprem/Leon.

Cimos Koper (SLO) vs. KS Vive Targi Kielce (POL)

Live on - click HERE
Saturday, 18:00 hrs local time
(First Leg: 26:27)  

Despite the good base, Koper’s top scorer Matjaz Brumen expects an even tougher duel: "The expectations in Koper are very high, so it will really not be easy for us," he said in an interview with siol.net.

Cimos Koper expect a full hall against the Poles – and the Slovenians are known for their home strengths, as the only match they lost in the Group Stages was against Group winner Hamburg.

On the other hand Kielce had proved their strength in away matches by winning at Chekhovskie Medvedi and MKB Veszprem. "Surprisingly we play better in away matches than at home," Croat Denis Buntic said, who had played for Koper four years ago. "For the Slovenians the result of the first leg was a good one, now we have to see what happens in Koper." Kielce goalkeeper Marcus Cleverly had to miss the last match in the Polish play-offs on Tuesday due to Patella problems, but will be back on Saturday.

In several international media was announced this week that Kielce want to sign Croatian right wing Ivan Cupic – he would be the third player after Karol Bielecki and Krzysztof Lijewski to change the shirt from Rhein-Neckar Löwen to the Polish runners-up after this season if this transfer will be confirmed.

RK Croatia Osiguranje Zagreb (CRO) vs. HC Metalurg (MKD)

Live on - click HERE
Saturday, 20:15 hrs local time
(First Leg: 18:19)

The "Balkan battle" will see the return of coaching legend Lino Cervar to his former club in Zagreb, where he had been coach for several years. Before the second leg, Cervar said to ekipa.mk that "a victory in Zagreb would be the crown on a historic season for my club".

The first leg was a battle of defences in which both teams had enough chances to take the points by a bigger margin.

For Metalurg top scorer Zarko Markovic the Croats are the favourite in this duel, "but we will fight until the very end" he said. It is already the fourth time both teams meet in this season: In the Regional SEHA League, Metalurg lost 25:32 at Zagreb three weeks ago, but did not play their best team, which had drawn their home game.

Again the goalkeepers are key – and after Cervar’s squad was able to stop Croatian top scorer Marko Kopljar completely in the first encounter, RK coach Ivica Obrvan will bring on some tactical changes.

AG Kobenhavn (DEN) vs. IK Sävehof (SWE)
Saturday, 20:00 hrs local time
(First Leg: 34:25)

The roles are clear before the All-Scandinavian encounter: Kobenhavn is unbeaten at home and took a nine-goal margin back from their short trip to Sweden. "Sävehof will play for the honour," AGK shooter Mikkel Hansen said.

The Danes look certain to become the first newcomer for many years to reach the quarter-finals – but the hopes are even higher: "It is our vision to reach the VELUX EHF FINAL4 this season," Joachim "tractor" Boldsen said to ehfCL.com.

HSV Hamburg (GER) vs. Füchse Berlin (GER)

Live on - click HERE
Sunday, 17:15 hrs local time
(First Leg: 30:32)

"We need you on Sunday" is the message from HSV to their fans before the re-match of the All-German duel. "Nothing is decided yet, it is only half time," was the opinion of both sides after the close duel last Sunday, which was the first defeat for HSV in this VELUX EHF Champions League season. In the Bundesliga, Hamburg had won their home game 26:25 – a result which would not be enough to reach the Quarter Finals for the sixth straight time.

HSV will still miss Bertrand Gille, Oscar Carlen, Renato Vugrinec and maybe Pascal Hens in this decisive game, but can count again on right wing Stefan Schröder.

The dress rehearsal of Füchse in the German league was successful with a 27:24 victory against European Cup Winner’s Cup champion VfL Gummersbach. Their only injury worry is Icelandic Alexander Petterson who picked up a minor knock in Tuesday’s match.

FC Barcelona Intersport (ESP) vs. Montpellier Agglomeration (FRA)

Live on - click HERE
Sunday, 17:00 hrs local time

(First Leg: 28:30)

After beating Barcelona on home ground there was shock news for Montpellier: Vid Kavticnik will be out for eight months after his knee injury from the first leg. The Slovenian needs an operation after a rupture of several ligaments in the knee. "Now we have to play for Vid," was the united voice from the French champions, who have never taken a single point from Palau Blaugrana before. The only good news for the French: Michael Guigou had returned to the training sessions, and the left wing might be able to play on Sunday.

On the other hand FC Barcelona Intersport have a tough challenge ahead before the decisive duel with Montpellier: On Thursday night they are guests at Valladolid in the Spanish Asobal league. On home ground the Catalans only lost one match in this season, the VELUX EHF Champions League encounter with Zagreb.

Atletico Madrid (ESP) vs. Kadetten Schaffhausen (SUI)
Sunday, 15:45 hrs local time
(First Leg: 36:25)

Like Kobenhavn, like Madrid: After their party in Switzerland their passage to the Quarter Finals looks clearly marked for Atletico. Reaching the next stage would mean a ninth straight participation in the Quarter Finals for Madrid since their debut (as BM Ciudad Real) in the EHF Champions League in 2003. The team of Talant Dushebajew had another milestone in moving from Ciudad Real to the Spanish capital. The times of constant commuting from La Mancha to Madrid will come to an end – this week the team had their first official training session in Madrid, as they usually still train in the Don Quichote Arena in Ciudad Real.

MKB Veszprem (HUN) vs. Reale Ademar Leon (ESP)

Live on - click HERE
Sunday, 18:00 hrs local time
(First Leg: 28:31)

Will MKB Veszprem be eliminated for the fourth straight time by a Spanish club in the VELUX EHF Champions League? Or will the Hungarians be strong enough to turn this tie around on home ground? In the previous three years Veszprem failed against Ciudad Real and FC Barcelona (twice). And now coach Lajos Mocsai want his team to end this curse.

In Leon the Hungarians dominated for more than 40 minutes, but suffered because of their weak attack.

Leon have the chance to reach the last eight for the first time since 2002 – and maybe it is a good omen that one of only two away wins this season was in Hungary, when winning 35:31 in Szeged.

Veszprem on the other hand took their decisive home victory in the Group Phase against a Spanish team, Atletico Madrid. The fans will play an important part in this match, while the goalkeepers duel Losert/Alamo (Leon) vs. Alilovic/Fazekas (Veszprem), the efficiency in attack, and Veszprem's ability to stop the Slovak Martin Stranovsky will all prove important.

TEXT: Björn Pazen