Kolding, Flensburg and Plock in race for second placeArticle
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GROUP B PREVIEW: Close race for second place in Group B, where Barcelona seem to run with the first place.

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Kolding, Flensburg and Plock in race for second place

While FC Barcelona seem to be heading for group win, there is still a rather close race on for second position in Group B of the VELUX EHF Champions League.

Despite their 27:20 defeat away to SG Flensburg-Handewitt on Sunday, KIF Kolding Kobenhavn still have the best chances to finish second, and the Danish champions can boost their chances considerably through a home win Sunday against Besiktas MOGAZ HT who have almost played their part in the Champions League this season.

This also applies to Alingsas HK who receive Flensburg already Thursday in a match, in which Flensburg will need a win, not only keep their hopes for the second place alive, but also in order to keep Orlen Wisla Plock behind them in the battle for third position. Exactly Plock have a tough Saturday evening ahead of them, as they receive FC Barcelona.


Alingsas HK (SWE) vs SG Flensburg-Handewitt (GER)
Thursday 4 December 19.30 local time, live on ehfTV

The 27:20 win at home against KIF Kolding Kobenhavn on Sunday lets Flensburg go on hoping for second position, but with Wisla Plock only one point behind them and an away game against Plock coming up in February, the defending Champions League winners will also have to keep an eye on the Polish team who are in fourth position.

Therefore, Flensburg need a win in Sweden on Thursday evening, and they are obvious favourites to take it. Flensburg won their first match against Alingsas in the group phase 31:21, and against the Alingsas team who seem to be without a chance to proceed to the last 16, the North German team should be able to take another two points.

The clear win against Kolding added to Flensburg's self confidence, and as head coach Ljubomir Vranjes put it on Flensburg's website: “We want to confirm our good form with another fine performance in Sweden.”

Orlen Wisla Plock (POL) vs FC Barcelona (ESP)
Saturday 6. December 18.30 local time, live on ehfTV

Good performances lately have made Wisla Plock almost sure to qualify for the Last 16, and maybe even from a better position than their current fourth place.

Their 30:30 draw against KIF Kolding Kobenhavn a bit more than a week ago was probably the second largest surprise in this group so far, only beaten by Kolding Kobenhavn's 35:21 win against Flensburg in the first round.

In the away game against Besiktas this past weekend, Plock also showed convincing skills for great parts, and at the moment, they are only one point after Flensburg in the battle for third position. However, it will be difficult for Poland's number two to keep that close distance, not to speak of leapfrogging Flensburg this weekend.

In the Orlen Arena, Plock are receiving none other than FC Barcelona, and apart from the point, Barcelona have lost through their 27:27 draw away against Kolding, the Spanish team seem to be near to unstoppable this season. In spite of playing away, and in spite of Plock's fine form lately, Barcelona are favourites to take another win and maintain the distance to their followers in the top of the group.

KIF Kolding Kobenhavn (DEN) vs Besiktas MOGAZ HT (TUR)
Sunday 7 December, 16.50 local time, live on ehfTV

Besiktas seem to have to realise that their EHF Champions League debut will end with the group phase. Being five points adrift of Wisla Plock, the Turkish champions will not only have to win their last three matches. They will also have to hope for Plock not to get any more points.

Winning the last three matches seems less than likely for Besiktas, who are definitely not favourites in the Sunday match in Kolding, even though they will probably not be missing support in Denmark. Between 300 and 400 Turkish supporters are expected in the TRE-FOR Arena Sunday.

Despite the 27:20 defeat in Flensburg one Sunday, Kolding still have a very good chance of keeping the second place in the group which they are occupying at the moment.

Winning their two remaining home matches, against Besiktas and against Alingsas in February will do the job for the Danish champions. This fact makes Kolding's Icelandic head coach Aron Kristjansson pretty confident.

“It is still in our hands, if we are going to finish second in the group. It will take two wins in our three remaining matches. That is something we should be able to accomplish,” Kristjansson told his club's website.

TEXT: Peter Bruun / br