Flensburg and Plock need to hang inArticle
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GROUP B PREVIEW: KIF Kolding Kobenhavn and FC Barcelona can take almost decisive lead in case of away wins.

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Flensburg and Plock need to hang in

KIF Kolding Kobenhavn and FC Barcelona can almost reduce the question of the first and second place in Group B of the VELUX EHF Champions League to a race between them, if they can win their away games when the first half of the group phase ends this week.

Already Thursday evening, KIF are playing in Poland against Orlen Wisla Plock, and Saturday Barcelona are in Northern Gemany for the Match of the Week against SG Flensburg Handewitt.

Two away wins will bring KIF and Barcelona three points ahead of Flensburg and five ahead of Plock, and even with the two top teams being better in the internal matches.

In Istanbul, Besiktas MOGAZ HT and Alingsas HK seem to be left to fight to avoid finishing last.

Orlen Wisla Plock (POL) vs KIF Kolding Kobenhavn (DEN)
Thursday 13 November at 18.45 hrs local time, live on ehfTV

If Wisla Plock do not like to play against Kolding, it is quite understandable. Six times have the two team met in the history of the EHF Champions League, and six times did the Danish outfit win.

As recently as last season were the two teams in the same Champions League group, with two one goal wins for KIF as the results. However, Plock can hardly afford a seventh defeat to the Danish champions if they want to maintain the hope of finishing in one of the two top positions in the group.

The Polish runners-up will probably not have to fear missing the knock-out rounds, but a defeat in the Orlen Arena Thursday evening will put them far behind Kolding Kobenhavn, and also behind Barcelona in case of the Barcelona win in Flensburg Saturday.

In the visiting team, the experienced line player Torsten Laen is well aware that the match is a key match in the group.

“If we can get the two points down there, things look very well, but if we lose, the point we got against Barcelona (27:27 at home on 19 October) becomes less worth to us. It is going to be a tough match for us, but I am sure we are ready for it, because we have so many resources right now,” Torsten Laen told the newspaper JyskeVestkysten.

SG Flensburg-Handewitt (GER) vs FC Barcelona (ESP) - MOTW
Saturday 15 November at 21.00 hrs local time, live on ehfTV

It is time for revenge for Barcelona in the FLENS-ARENA Saturday night. Time for revenge for the 41:39 defeat in that memorable semi-final of the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in Cologne on 31 May this year.

A match, in which Barcelona were leading by six goals way into the second half, but where Flensburg managed to catch up, get a 32:32 draw and force the match out into two extra times before winning the penalty shoot-out and qualifying for the final against THW Kiel.

What is at least as important, though, are the two crucial points which are at stake. If Barcelona win, they will be three points ahead of Flensburg, being best in the internal match and having the return match at home next Sunday.

That mountain may prove to be too steep to climb for the reigning Champions League winners. However, Flensburg can find encouragement in the statistics, and this does not only mean that FINAL4 semi-final last season.

Actually, the two clubs have only met in Flensburg once before. That was in the first leg of their quarter-final tie in the EHF Champions League of the 2006/07 season.

On that occasion, Flensburg won as big as 31:21, and as the only lost the second leg in the Palau Blaugrana with five goals, 34:29, it was enough to reach the semi-final back then.

Besiktas MOGAZ HT (TUR) vs Alingsas HK (SWE)
Sunday 16 November at 19.00 hrs local time, live on ehfTV

Mathematically, both teams can still reach the Last 16, of course.

However, when you look at the results they have achieved against the four teams in the positions, which get access to the knock-out matches, it becomes harder to see the chances.

Not a single point has any of the two teams managed to get against the four teams above them, so the two parties in this Sunday evening encounter seem to be left to fight about not finishing last in the group.

For Besiktas, there is an extra bonus, though. As this is their first Champions League adventure ever, the first point the Turkish champions might get, will be historic.

For Alingsas, it is now a question of copying their achievement from the only previous Champions League campaign. In the 2009/10 season, the Swedish champions finished exactly fifth in their group with four points.

In order to reach four points again, a win in Istanbul Sunday night will probably be necessary for Alingsas.

TEXT: Peter Bruun / br