Preview of the Match of the Week RK Celje Pivovarna Laško vs. HSV HamburgArticle
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One heavyweight from Germany already stumbled in Zlatorog this season. Will youngsters from Celje be able to repeat the schocking victory over the heavy favourites?

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Preview of the Match of the Week RK Celje Pivovarna Laško vs. HSV Hamburg

The first Match of the Week of the knock-out stage, free of charge live streamed on with English commentary by Tom Ó Brannagáin, will be set in Slovenia as RK Pivovarna Laško Celje take on HSV Hamburg on Saturday (16:15 hrs. local time).

The young guns of the 2004 EHF Champions League winners on one side, the experienced players of three times EHF Champions league semi-finalists on the other. The arena in Celje will be sold-out for the clash of representatives of two of the strongest European leagues.

Currently seven German teams are competing in the VELUX EHF Champions League and the EHF Cup and the second ranked nation (equal with Spain) is Slovenia with two teams each in both competitions. Combined with the success of the national team, Slovenia is the rising star in European men’s handball.

Both teams had perfect dress rehearsals for the Match of the Week in their domestic leagues: Celje beat EHF Cup participant Maribor Branik by 26:24 thanks to six goals of Borut Mačkovšek, and HSV Hamburg clashed former EHF Cup Winners’ Cup  VfL Gummersbach 32:21.

But the even more important news for the Germans was the comeback of 2007 world champion Torsten Jansen, who returned on court after a 298 (!) days injury break.

“It was a brilliant feeling to be back again, as it was a real tough time not to be on the court,” Jansen said after the match against Gummersbach.

On the other side Celje coach Vladan Matić is totally looking forward the two encounters with the Germans after Celje had a six years absence from the knock-out stage in the European top flight.

“I am pleased. Our task is to have a full Zlatorog arena, where we want to make a feast of handball. For my boys it is a great opportunity to play against some Olympic and world champions. Let's see where we are compared to large global teams. The burden to be the favourite is clearly on the Hamburg side. Our job is to play and enjoy handball,” he said.

Matić’s boys have proved their abilities when they sensationally beat defending champions THW Kiel on home ground in the group phase. “We analyzed especially this match,” HSV coach Martin Schwalb said.

“Celje have a young and highly talented team. We are aware, but we hope to proceed to the quarter-finals,” he added.

The Match of the Week will especially highlight the two top scorers of the premier continental club competition Hans Lindberg and Gašper Marguč, both right wing players with a high effiency in counter attacks. Aside the back court duels of Domagoj Duvnjak and Blaženko Lacković on Hamburg side against Sebastian Skude and Borut Mačkovšek on Celje side will be decisive as well as the question, which goalkeeper can prove his currently brilliant form at the best.

Will it be Urban Lesjak, who saved 14 shots against Maribor for Celje or Johannes Bitter for Hamburg. Since Bitter returned after his nine month injury break (rupture of the crucial ligament in the last 16 last season against Berlin) in December, HSV did not lose one single match.

Further information
Follow Match of the Week live and free on on Saturday 16 March at 16:30 hrs local time


TEXT: Björn Pazen / br