Decisive showdown in BudapestArticle
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GROUP 1 PREVIEW: Saturday’s FTC and Baia Mare clash and the result of Fleury vs Larvik will decide the final standings of the group.

Decisive showdown in Budapest

With three teams on 10 points ahead of the final round of the Women’s EHF Champions League Main Round, there are various possible scenarios for how Group 1 will end.

Larvik are out to clinch second spot if they win at Fleury Loiret Handball, while FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria prepare to take on HCM Baia Mare, who are on a perfect run through the main round.

Group 1
FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria (HUN) vs HCM Baia Mare (ROU)

Saturday 14.30 local time, live on ehfTV

The tide has changed enermously for both teams. FTC finished the group stage undefeated and started the main round on a high note, while Baia Mare arrived at the second stage of the Women’s EHF Champions League empty handed.

However, the Romanian outfit gathered momentum and won all their main round matches, as oppose to FTC, who managed to win just one of their five encounters. All this added up to the current situation: the teams are level on points and the last game will decide their fate.

The Hungarian champions play might have faltered but FTC are still unbeaten at home. Having defeated Larvik and snatched a draw against Rostov Don, FTC can rely on enthusiastic support when the Romanian outfit comes to town.

Baia Mare have been more than convincing in the main round, but away from home they really needed luck to be on their side to secure their two-goal win at Thüringer and their last-second triumph in Orleans.

The winner of the Budapest showdown cannot finish lower than third place, but will have to be content with that if Larvik win at Fleury.

Thüringer HC (GER) vs Rostov-Don (RUS)
Sunday 14:00 local time, live on ehfTV

The only two teams whose position in Group 1 are settled will take the court with little to fight for. Rostov-Don have long been confirmed as winners of the group, and Thüringer are in last place and lost their hope to qualify for the quarter-finals weeks ago.

For two players there are individual honours to focus on. The top scorers’ list features Ekaterina Ilina in third place with 72 goals while Iuliia Managarova is ninth with 60 goals to her name. Thüringer’s most effective scorer is Eliza Buceschi, on 50 goals.

Thüringer last won a Champions League game in November when they beat Podravka, but against main round teams they only managed one draw in the entire season (against FTC). Rostov also have one draw – against FTC – but have won all their games apart from that.

Fleury Loiret Handball (FRA) vs Larvik (NOR)
Sunday 15.15 local time, live on ehfTV

Fleury are already out of the quarter-final race but the French newcomers are dedicated to closing their first ever Women’s EHF Champions League season with a win. Larvik, on the other hand, still have a lot to play for as they can still finish fourth in the group in case of a defeat in France.

Perhaps the biggest upseat the French outfit caused this season was their win at Larvik, due to which they remained in the race for the quarter-final spots until the penultimate round. Led by Alexandrina Cabral Barbosa and Gnonsiane Niombla, the Panthers handed a surprise but duly deserved defeat to Larvik.

Nora Mörk and Co have the upper hand against both FTC and Baia Mare – the Norwegian powerhouse can only finish fourth if they lose at Fleury and the match in Budapest ends in a draw. On the other hand if Larvik deliver in Orleans the Budapest game will be out of the picture and Larvik will secure second behind Rostov-Don.

TEXT: Bence Martha / cg