Debut for Davis in Skopje, Leipzig to finally play on home courtArticle
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GROUP B PREVIEW: The group leaders HC Vardar and FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria look for their third victories in a row, while HC Leipzig hope to finally grab some points in their first home game

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Debut for Davis in Skopje, Leipzig to finally play on home court

The group favourites HV Vardar and FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria are difficult to stop, and this weekend they will try to earn their third successive victories.

•    HC Vardar and FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria top the Group B with five points
•    Vardar got a new head coach David Davis earlier this week
•    HC Leipzig will play their first match on home arena in the group stage of this season
•    Vardar's Andrea Penezic is currently the top scorer of the EHF Champions League with 23 goals

HC Vardar (MKD) vs Astrakhanochka (RUS)
Saturday, 5 November, 17:30 hrs local time, live on

Last week in Astrakhan, the Russian champions fought hard and had their chances to grab at least one point, but in the end Vardar was just too strong for them.

Now the two teams meet again, and Astrakhanochka's head coach Mikhail Seregin sees the games with Macedonian side as a lesson.

"The first match against Vardar was like five other games for us. We made a lot of mistakes, but now it is clear what exactly we should work on before the next game and in future in general", he says.

Meanwhile the Skopje side finally got a new head coach. The former Spanish international David Davis returned to the team where he used to work as Indira Kastratovic's assistant last season.

At the start of this season, the 40-year-old was an assistant to his compatriot Raul Gonzalez in the men's Vardar team.

"I thank the club and its owner Sergey Samsonenko for the trust. We did a good job here last season, and I hope that we will continue," Davis told at the press conference on Thursday.

"Astrakhanochka are a young team, and they play hard, but the quality is on our side. We have to win at home not only in this game but in all competitions. There is a lot of work waiting for us, but we will do it step by step," Davis said.

Aco Stankovski, who acted as a caretaker coach after the departure of Indira Kastratovic, will stay in the team and become Davis' assistant.

HC Leipzig (GER) vs FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria (HUN)
Sunday, 6 November, 19:00 hrs local time, live on

The group stage has already crossed its equator, but only now EHF Champions League is coming to Leipzig.

So far, the German team have played all Group B matches away from home, and could not take a single point. But now the group outsiders hope to improve their situation in the three remaining games on home court.

Good news is that Tamara Bösch's injury is not as bad as it was expected. First HC Leipzig's doctors suspected the crucial ligament rupture, which would make the Austrian unavailable until the end of the season. But, as it turned out, the player has just a meniscus injury and will miss only six weeks.

Last week in Dabas, the injury-riddled Leipzig missed not only Bösch but also a number of other injured key players such as Saskia Lang and Karolina Kudlacz-Gloc.

Despite having just 11 players in the squad, Leipzig looked very determined in the game against FTC in Dabas. Yet the Hungarian side finally earned two points, and the hero of the day was their goalkeeper Melinda Szikora who made a few great saves.

"I received a lot of congratulations, and it is good to remember what happened in that game. We had two days off after it, but on Tuesday we started to work again. We saw that Leipzig are a tough opponent, and we will not be complacent in Germany," Szikora told the FTC official website.

TEXT: Sergey Nikolaev / br