Precious points up for grabs in KievArticle
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GROUP D PREVEW: With Zaporozhye suddenly bursting into life, there is a four-horse race for the two remaining Last 16 spots behind group leaders Kielce and Szeged

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Precious points up for grabs in Kiev

While Kielce and Szeged are well on their way to reaching the Last 16, the rest of the Group D still has a lot to do. A mere three points separate Aalborg in third and Dunkerque in last place and with four more rounds to go, success in every match is vital. 

HC Motor Zaporozhye (UKR) v MOL-Pick Szeged (HUN)
Wednesday 26 November at 18:00 local time live on ehfTV

Motor have pulled themselves out of a rut with two consecutive victories against Kadetten. The narrow defeat in Szeged in the opening round (26:27) is still vivid in their memory and they will be looking forward to "returning the favour".

The good news for coach Bebeshko is that he has enough quality players to depend upon for scoring goals. The robust left-back Sergii Burka is the club’s top scorer and right-back Sergiy Onofruyenko as well as left-wing Oleg Skopintsev are in prolific form at the moment.

Motor's defence is tall and robust with the excellent goalkeeper Richard Stochl regularly ensuring his save count reaches double-digits.

In order to continue their winning streak, they have only succumbed to Kielce so far, Szeged will have to put in a better performance than last weekend’s in Dunkerque, where they were saved by the buzzer at 25:24.

Dean Bombac is still one of the best playmakers currently roaming the courts, but more firing power will be needed from the rest of the backcourt. Right back Zsolt Balogh was under his usual goal count and Ferenc Ilyes was shut-out. Szeged will need those backcourt goals against the Ukrainian defensive wall.

With both teams liking a physical game, this will be a real battle. 

KS Vive Tauron Kielce (POL) v Kadetten Schaffhausen (SUI)
Sunday 30 November at 13:30 local time live on ehfTV

After picking up 3 points early in the campaign, the momentum has stalled for Kadetten. The Swiss team have three defeats on the trot and it seems highly unlikely that they will break the series in Poland.

Kadetten have a lot of problems with imagination in attack lately. When they face Kielce's tall defensive line all of the usual shooters (Liniger, Graubner, Pendic) will have to be at their best to have a chance of springing a surprise. 

Kielce are six-for-six and have won pretty much comfortably in every game so far. They are the group’s outstanding favourites and are in a good shape regarding form.

Szmal and Sego are dividing their goalkeeping responsibilities well. Bielecki, Lijewski and Jurecki are firing on all cylinders. With all of this in mind, anything less than a convincing home victory will be a shock.

Aalborg Handball (DEN) v Dunkerque HB Grand Littoral (FRA)
Sunday 30 November at 16:50 local time live on ehfTV

The clock is ticking for Dunkerque and they are starting to hear it more and more clearly as their winless streak continues.

To make matters worse, the French champions have been within touching distance of points on more than one occasion only to see them slip away in the final minutes. They have arguably the best goalkeeper in the group in Vincent Gerard and in order to rescue the season they simply have to capitalise on his continuing excellent performances.

Aalborg beat the French champions on their own court in the first match of the group 26:21. The Danes have, however, gathered only three points since and they are desperate for a win that would ease the pressure at this late stage.

Emil Berggren missed the last defeat against Kielce because of injury and without him the Danish attack loses a lot of its edge.

Aalborg's coach Jensen will try to minimise the inconsistencies in the game and perhaps we will see more of that seventh attacker experimentation, which did not work all that well against the Polish outfit.

TEXT: Grega Sever / cor