Buducnost look to extend their unbeaten streakArticle
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GROUP 1 PREVIEW: Last season's runners-up can almost seal a quarter-final berth with a win against HC Leipzig, while Vardar crave a bounce back versus Krim

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Buducnost look to extend their unbeaten streak

While last year’s finalists, Buducnost, won comfortably against Dinamo-Sinara in the first game of main round, WHC Vardar's ambitions have been shaken by a shock loss against HC Leipzig.

The Macedonian powerhouse is set to bounce back against RK Krim Mercator, a chance for redemption in front of their own fans, while Buducnost seek to extend their unbeaten streak in Moraca against the plucky German runners-up.

WHC Vardar SCBT (MKD) vs. RK Krim Mercator (SLO)
Saturday, 7 February, 19:00 hrs local time, live on ehfTV.com

An unexpected loss against HC Leipzig (23:26) in the first round of the group, put Vardar’s ambitions for this season into jeopardy. A fifth place at the current stage of the competition, a point behind Thüringer HC, was deemed to be unacceptable for the Macedonian side, which is vying for the second consecutive appearance in the Women’s EHF FINAL4.

While Vardar’s berth for the quarter-finals phase is still on track, last week’s result had its consequences. Therefore, the team’s management announced the termination of consultant Kim Rasmussen’s contract, after only 28 days since the start of the agreement.

As the ambitious hosts have no place for mistake, Krim are also searching for the first win in the main round phase. With only two points after five games, the Ljubljana-based team, whose form was erratic this season, is trying to get into gear.

However, if the Slovenian outfit wants to achieve its objective, they must stop Andrea Lekic and Andrea Penezic, Vardar’s best scorers and two familiar faces for Krim, as Lekic played in the Slovenian capital between 2007 and 2011, while Penezic was a Krim player between 2010 and 2014.

Thüringer HC (GER) vs. Dinamo-Sinara (RUS)
Sunday, 8 February, 14:00 hrs local time, live on ehfTV.com

As both teams had days off in their national leagues, the game is due to be thrilling. But Herbert Müller, Thüringer’s head coach, will surely look to employ caution, after a breathtaking away win last week, away at Krim.

“It was such an important win, as we now have four points. If we want to progress to the next round, we have to win all our home games. But I am cautious and I told the team that the game against Dinamo is the most dangerous one. However, with three wins on our home turf we would be assured a place in the quarter-finals,” said the German champions’ coach, Müller.

But Dinamo is likely to bounce back after a thrashing in the first game, against Buducnost. The Russian handball stronghold never stood a chance against the Montenegrin side and lost (18:25).

However, Dinamo has yet to lose a game on away field this year and is pumped up to repeat the feat on Sunday, in the first official game between the two sides.

Buducnost (MNE) vs. HC Leipzig (GER)
Sunday, 8 February, 19:00 hrs local time, live on ehfTV.com

The 2012 EHF Champions League winners are currently on a nine game unbeaten streak in the loud “Moraca” hall in the European top flight as they host HC Leipzig in the most exciting match of the group.

Buducnost’s last home loss came in March 2013 against Györ, and last year’s finalists will look to extend the streak against the surprise of the last round.

A win for the hosts is likely to take them closer to safe passage for the quarter-finals, as Buducnost with nine points has already opened a six-point gap to the fifth place.

However, if Leipzig will embark on a trip with the thoughts of another potential giant-killing, after the win against Vardar last week, the history is taking Buducnost’s side. All of Leipzig’s three away games in Podgorica finished with losses, the closest one being in 1999-2000’s Women’s EHF Champions League (29:32).


TEXT: Adrian Costeiu / br