Northern Stars shine different: Hamburg in clear leadArticle
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Preview of the Match of the Week of the VELUX EHF Champions League Quarter-final

Northern Stars shine different: Hamburg in clear lead

In Hamburg they call it the “longest half-time break ever”. Seven days are between the first half and the second half – as HSV Hamburg Martin Schwalb does not stop to emphasize that only the first half of the VELUX EHF Champions League Quarter-finals has been played. His team won the first leg at Flensburg 32:26  – and have a brilliant base to reach the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in Cologne (1 and 2 June) for the second time in club's history after 2011.

Not only Schwalb, but the whole team are like the biblical admonisher in the desert. “Nothing is decided”, is the clear message from Hamburg before the second leg on home ground on Sunday (18:30 hrs. local time).

“The result is quite good, but we need to be humble and focused. We should always have in our minds that just two weeks ago Flensburg eliminated us in the German Cup final,” said HSV left back Pascal Hens.

The second leg duel of the quarter-final is the seventh time both teams face each other in this season. Twice in the league, twice in the Group Phase of the VELUX EHF Champions League, once in the German Cup and once in the Champions League quarter-final – and the 32:26 victory of the upcoming host was the clearest result by now in this encounter of two German Northern stars in the 2012/13 season.

In Bundesliga, Flensburg rank third on a position which guarantees the participation in the VELUX EHF Champions League for the upcoming season – already five points below leaders THW Kiel, but four points ahead of fifth ranked team from Hamburg, which is struggling hard to qualify for the seventh straight time for the flagship competition in European club handball.

But on international level Hamburg seem to be in a better position: First they won their group ahead of the arch rival, then they won their away match at Flensarena. “We lacked the quality to score the big goals in the crucial time of the first leg. This is why we lost so clearly,” said SG right back Steffen Weinhold. But his team captain Tobias Karlsson adds: “We still believe in ourselves to turn the page at Hamburg.”

For Flensburg coach Ljubomir Vranjes the tiredness of his players was one reason for the clear defeat, his hopes for the rematch: “We had a one week break to recharge our batteries, maybe this is our chance.” But like Flensburg, Hamburg did not have a domestic match between both “battles for Cologne”.

And Schwalb has his way of treating the first leg result in a very psychological way: “To think about a six goal advance before the second match is poison for our heads. So I am responsible to find the right antitoxin.”

Four years ago, the constellation before the rematch of the VELUX EHF Champions League Quarter-final was nearly the same: Flensburg had lost at home against HSV, but the margin were only three goals (25:28).

Then SG started their catch-up chase at Hamburg and were highly close to go through to the semi-finals: In the end only one goal was missing, as Flensburg won 31:29.

And maybe – in contrast to the first leg – the duel of the current top scorer duo (both are Danish wing players) of the whole competition will be decisive: Hans Lindberg (HSV) currently has 82 goals on his account, while Anders Eggert wants to add additional strikes to his current tally of 73.

Further information
Follow the Match of the Week with English commentary of Tom Ó Brannagáin live and free of charge on Sunday, 28 April at 18:30 on

TEXT: Björn Pazen / br