Löwen face yet another tricky away gameArticle
«Go back

GROUP C PREVIEW: Mannheim-based team continue their Eastern European tour in Skopje, while Veszprém take on Montpellier and one of Medvedi and Celje will break the spell and avoid losing three in a row.

»EHF CL Channel »2014-15 Men's News

Löwen face yet another tricky away game

If a group is loaded with FINAL4 contenders one should expect a huge game for every week. This time it’s Vardar-Löwen, which might have an impact on the final standings of the group as well and there’s another Champions League classic in Veszprém, where Montpellier try to stop the Hungarian champions. The round starts on Thursday in Chekhov with a struggle for the first points.

Chekhovskie Medvedi (RUS) vs Celje Pivovarna Lasko (SLO)
Thursday 9 October 19.30 hrs local time, live on ehfTV

Medvedi or Celje will avoid starting the season with three defeats in a row and keep their hopes of advancing to the Last 16 alive.  Although they are yet to taste victory both teams had good runs in the first two rounds.

Chekhov had an excellent first half vs. Veszprém and their overall performance was not to be ashamed of but went down against Löwen pretty easily.

Celje led both against Vardar and at Montpellier but struggled to hold on to their lead.

The young Slovenians have to keep a close eye on Alexander Dereven, who is currently third in the top scorers’ list, while Celje distribute the burden of goalscoring among their players. The fixture is almost impossible to predict, Medvedi have the home court advantage but Celje bravely locked horns with Montpellier away from home and led by four goals at the break.

The two sides only met twice before, Celje won both outings in 2001 but they were as tight as this week’s clash is expected to be.

MKB-MVM Veszprém (HUN) vs Montpellier Agglomeration (FRA)
Sunday 12 October 19.00 hrs local time, live on ehfTV

Another Champions League classic in the Group that is loaded with heavyweights of European handball. Tables have turned quite a few times since the two outfits first met in 1998 the teams shifted from underdog to favourite status a couple of times but their matches always brought top quality handball action.

Veszprém seem to have the upper hand this year, the Hungarian champion won both of their matches and look second to none in the competition.

Montpellier on the other hand were thoroughly beaten by Löwen in the first round and started the first home game against Celje in a disastrous way but managed to come back thanks to the unstoppable Dragan Gajic.

However, Löwen showed that even the usually vociferous Veszprém Arena can be muted, all one has to do is defend with fast legs and never let the home side catch a breath. It is to be found out whether Montpellier are capable of the same, or even more but one thing is for sure: the French team would have to put up their best performance so far.

Veszprém are strong favorites to win the fixture but Montpellier can cause an upset if the visitors can continue where they left of against Celje. The teams’ overall head-to-head statistics are quite even, the last fixture was won by Montpellier in France but Veszprém triumphed at home when the visitors last ventured to the lion’s den.

HC Vardar (MKD) vs Rhein-Neckar Löwen (GER)
Sunday 12 October 19.30 hrs local time, live on ehftv - Match of the Week

The first ever clash of these two European giants will possibly have a great impact on the final standings of this truly entertaining group. Vardar currently lead Group C but the game against Löwen will show the true potential of both teams.

It would be no miracle if Vardar and Löwen met in the FINAL4, judging by their team, squad, management, fan support and reputation they may rightfully claim a place in Cologne. The fact that Löwen managed not only to lead, but to control the first half in Veszprém speaks volumes about how strong the Bundesliga leader are, yet no team can be considered as favorites upon entering the arena packed with noisy and loyal Skopje fans.

Vardar have a lot of pillars to lean onto, Arpad Sterbik, Timur Dibirov and Alex Dujshebaev regularly lift the flag high for the Macedonian team this year but Löwen have nothing to complain about as far as squad strength is concerned.

Probably world’s best goalkeepers (Sterbik vs. Landin), best wings (Dibirov vs. Gensheimer) will clash in Skopje but such household names as Mads Mensah, Myrhol or Dujshebaev and Gorbok guarantee the spectacle for the fixture.

While Löwen can not afford to lose two games in a row Vardar will hold on to their leading spot like grim death. Löwen might be a little tired after last week’s visit to Veszprém but still seem a bit ahead of the home side form-wise.

TEXT: Bence Martha / br