Vardar hope to maintain winning streakArticle
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QUARTER-FINAL PREVIEW: Coming off four straight wins, HC Vardar are looking to keep their momentum going against Larvik in the first leg of the Women's EHF Champions League Quarter-finals.

Vardar hope to maintain winning streak

HC Vardar face one more obstacle on their way to the Women's EHF FINAL4 in Budapest. The Macedonian team want to build on a four-game winning series when they take on Norwegian side Larvik in the quarter-finals on Saturday.

HC Vardar (MKD) vs Larvik (NOR)
Saturday 2 April, 17:30 hrs (CET) live on ehfTV

There was one season of 'silence' before the two teams meet again. In 2013/14 they met in the group matches in which Vardar celebrated a huge win at Larvik to place first in their group.

That season the team from FYR Macedonia came to their first bronze medal, while the Norwegian side missed the opportunity to find themselves among the best four teams in Budapest.

However, last season Larvik finished second after they remained unbeaten in all stages prior to the final.

On the other side, Vardar could not repeat their success as they ended third though they had the best scorer of the season with Andrea Penezic.

When it comes to the performance this season both teams demonstrated some weaknesses though they showed real character in the crucial matches.

Larvik have been missing Polish back court Alina Wojtas thoughout the season, and now face more injuries worries concerning Anja Hammerseng-Edin.

"In general I can say that we got through the main round okay," Larvik head coach Tor Odvar Moen said. "We were hoping to have all the players well and healthy, but Anja has injured her thumb and will be out for five weeks. Other than that, all the players are ready for the upcoming game on Saturday in Skopje."

Vardar will see the return of Russian right back Tatiana Khmyrova, who is coming back from knee surgery which sidelined her for the last five Main Round matches.

"Like in the last two seasons, our start in the Champions League was weaker because we don’t have enough matches," coach Indira Kastratovic said.

"Then we found our form match by match and we showed this in the last four matches. I hope that we will keep the winning balance in the quarter-finals and play our best.”

The stakes are high in the quarter-finals and the Larvik head coach is aware of it.

"I think it’s the strongest quarter-final lineup we have ever seen in the Champions League. The eight remaining teams are incredible strong," Tor Odvar Moen said.

"We are facing our toughest match of the season. Vardar has shown that they are strong and have a lot of qualities, but so have we. We have to play the best match of the season if we want to come to the FINAL4."

According to Indira Kastratovic, "Larvik are a great team and they didn’t finish on the second position in the Main Round by accident."

"They have very good players and play typical Scandinavian handball, which means they don’t stop and play 60 minutes with the same tempo. We faced them twice and we didn’t lose and I hope this will stay this way."

TEXT: Amina Idrizi / ew