Preview for the second leg of the VELUX EHF Champions League Last 16Article
«Go back

All eight home teams are statistically and historically the favourites to march on to the quarter-finals.

»EHF CL Channel »2012-13 Men's News

Preview for the second leg of the VELUX EHF Champions League Last 16

Cologne is only three matches away, but the road to the VELUX EHF FINAL4 gets steeper and steeper.

After the first set of games in the Last 16, in some cases the wheat seems to have separated from the chaff, but nothing was decided in those eight fixtures.

There is however, some bad news for the away teams in the following second leg, as seven of the eight upcoming hosts did not lose a single match on home court in the Group Phase and five of them even have a 100% clean record at home (Kielce, Veszprém, Barcelona, Kiel and Berlin).

In the first leg only Chekhovskie Medvedi and Pick Szeged won their home matches, besides the draw in the first leg of the upcoming Match of the Week, Füchse Berlin vs. Atlético Madrid, five teams from pots 1 and 2 won away and are in the favourite role to reach the quarter-finals.

The draw for the last stop before Cologne will be held in Vienna on Tuesday 26 March and will be streamed live by

HSV Hamburg (GER) vs. Celje Pivovarna Laško (SLO)
Thursday, 19:30 hrs. local time
First leg: 38:29

“Nine goals are a lot and we made a huge step towards the next round, but we have to be aware,” said HSV coach Martin Schwalb after the clear away victory in Celje.

But the statistics speaks for Hamburg, as no team ever made it to the quarter-finals of the VELUX EHF Champions League by recovering from a larger deficit than five goals since 2009.

“We have to pay special attention to Borut Mačkovšek after his 13 goals from 14 attempts in the first leg, but also should not forget their top scorer Gašper Marguč,” explains Schwalb.

On Celje’s side Mačkovšek has not given up hope yet.

“Maybe we can cause a major surprise in Hamburg.”

Last season Hamburg lost their decisive Last 16 match at home against Berlin and were eliminated, but that time the margin from the first leg was only one goal.

HC Metalurg (MKD) vs. HC Dinamo Minsk (BLR)
Saturday, 18:00 hrs. local time
first leg: 26:23

“We are ready to open a new page of Macedonian sports history,” is written on Metalurg Skopje’s website.

After narrowly missing out on the quarter-finals last season against RK Zagreb, the door to the next round seems quite open now against the Belarusian champions. Even a two goal defeat would be enough for Lino Červar’s team to proceed.

But his Minsk counterpart Sergij Bebeshko, who had not been satisfied with the way his attack played in the first leg, is still quite optimistic

“We should not dramatize the first leg. We still have the chance to proceed, as we know what must be improved.”

Regardless of whether Metalurg or Minsk will proceed, it will be a first, as neither of these teams have ever made it to the quarter-finals of the competition.

Metalurg only lost one match at home in the Group Phase against group winner Kielce, while Minsk won twice away, at Schaffhausen and Zagreb.

MKB Veszprém KC (HUN) vs. Reale Ademar León (ESP)
Saturday, 16:00 hrs. local time
First leg: 23:20

Thanks to their defence and goalkeeper Mirko Alilović, MKB Veszprém had taken the fortress in León and won, in contrast to the previous four seasons, an away match in Spain during the knock-out phase.

“The base is built,” said top scorer László Nagy.

On the other hand, León, who eliminated Veszprém in the Last 16 last season, won only one away match in the Group Phase, but it was a decisive one at Montpellier.

In the current season Veszprém won all their respective home matches in the VELUX EHF Champions League, including taking down defending champions THW Kiel.

SG Flensburg-Handewitt (GER) vs. Gorenje Velenje (SLO)
Saturday, 17:15 hrs. local time
First leg: 28:25

“A dangerous result,” said Flensburg manager Dierk Schmäschke after the three-goal victory at Velenje in the first leg.

“There is no reason to underestimate this team at home.

“We still need a fully concentrated performance and the support from the stands to march on to the quarter-finals,” added Schmäschke.

And coach Ljubomir Vranjes added: “Despite the away victory there are lot of things to be improved for the second leg.”

Velenje have never made it to the quarter-finals of the VELUX EHF Champions League before and it will take a remarkable performance to change that this time around.

Flensburg only dropped two points from their hands at home, in the draws against Montpellier and León and were the only team to beat eventual group winner HSV Hamburg.

Velenje have won two away matches, both against the eliminated teams of Chambéry and St. Petersburg in Group C.

“We reduced the gap from minus five to minus three goals against a strong team. We still have a chance to cause a major surprise in Germany,” said Gorenje playmaker Marko Bezjak.

THW Kiel (GER) vs. Chekhovskie Medvedi (RUS)
Sunday, 19:30 hrs. local time
First leg: 35:37

“It is only half-time” is the message sent from the defending champions. THW Kiel have analysed their defence performance in particular, as it has been a long time since they have conceded as many goals as they did in in Chekhov.

“We still have our fate in our hands, and I hope with the support from our spectators we can make it,” said German international Dominik Klein.

Thanks to two late goals, Kiel improved their base for the rematch.

Kiel will draw hope from their home appearances in the Group Phase, when they did not only win all five matches, but never won a match by less than four goals, including their spectacular win in their last home match, the 32:21 defeat of Veszprém.

“But we should be aware, as the Bears often play better in away matches than at home,” warns THW Kiel coach Alfred Gislason.

On the other hand, Medvedi line player Mikhail Chipurin travels full of confidence to Germany.

“We are not arriving as tourists, but we are aiming to win like in the first leg to qualify for the quarter-finals."

In their two matches in Germany in this season, Medvedi drew at Hamburg and lost by ten goals at Flensburg.

FC Barcelona Intersport (ESP) vs. Bjerringbro-Silkeborg (DEN)
Sunday, 17:15 hrs. local time
First leg: 32:26

“The result does not reflect the rundown of the match,” said Barca coach Xavi Pascual after the first leg at Bjerringbro, where his team scored the last three goals to take a healthy lead home from Denmark.

In the last 13 months, since their 29:30 defeat against Zagreb on 18 February 2012, his team have won every home match in all competitions and go into the game as clear favourites.

“I was satisfied with the way we played, and we know that Barca are the better team,” BSV player Rasmus Lauge said.

Barcelona have played in knock-out stages of European Cups against Danish teams on five occasions and excluding last season, when they had been eliminated in the quarter-finals by AG København, the Catalan team always were the aggregate winners.

KS Vive Targi Kielce (POL) vs. Pick Szeged (HUN)
Sunday, 17:00 hrs. local time
First leg: 25:26

The 26:25 first leg reverse was the first defeat for Vive Targi Kielce in this season’s competition after a clean sweep of ten victories in the Group Phase.

Just like THW Kiel and Füchse Berlin, the Polish side scored the last two goals in the encounter at Szeged to give themselves a better chance at home.

“We were lucky,” said coach Bogdan Wenta.

The last match in this competition that the Polish champions lost in Kielce was against Madrid in November 2011, 15 months ago.

On the other hand, Pick did not win an away point in the Group Phase, but as Szeged player Attila Vadkerti highlighted,“ now a draw is enough for us to proceed.”

Kielce have yet to reach the quarter-finals, the last time Szeged got that far was in 2004.

Füchse Berlin (GER) vs. BM Atlético Madrid (ESP)
Sunday, 18:00 hrs. local time
First leg: 29:29

With a draw in the first leg, the stage has been set for the winner takes it all game on Sunday which is also the Match of the Week with commentary of Tom Ó Brannagáin and streamed live free of charge on ehfTV.

Berlin have their fate in their own hands and any kind of win is good enough to reach the quarter-finals for the second straight time in their second appearance in the competition.

“A draw is a perfect result, we did not expect it before, but it might be a dangerous result,” said Füchse coach Dagur Sigurdsson.

His counterpart Talant Dujshebaev, who are aiming to reach the VELUX EHF FINAL4 as only coach (and team) for the fourth straight time, was not so satisfied.

“19 Berlin goals in the second half of the first leg were too much. We still have the chance to go on, but need to improve in defence completely,” said Dujshebaev.

Madrid are the only Spanish club to have won at Berlin, as Füchse had beaten Leon in the 2011/12 quarter-finals and Barcelona in this season’s Group Phase, last season they lost at home in the Group Phase against Atlético.

“We still have a chance, but it is never easy to win at Berlin,” said Atlético player Edu Fernandez.

The Max-Schmeling-Halle will be sold-out and Berlin’s former Ciudad (Atletico) player Torsten Laen is eager to win.

“We have it in our hands. Although Atlético have a much stronger squad than León, we have proved against the Spaniards in the last season that we even can catch-up from a 12 goal deficit at home,” said Laen, who won the competition with the Spanish club in 2009.

TEXT: Börn Pazen / cor