Vardar continue winning streak; FTC cruise past injury-plagued BietigheimArticle
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GROUP 2 REVIEW: Vardar claimed their ninth victory in a row, as they comfortably defeated Buducnost in the Balkan derby, while FTC claimed their second win in the main round, beating Bietigheim by nine goals.

Vardar enjoy record winning streak; FTC cruise past injury-plagued Bietigheim

Since the start of the current EHF Champions League season, Vardar have been celebrating victories in each game, and following their clear home win against Buducnost, they topped their record winning streak from the last season.

FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria, on the other hand, strengthened their claim for the second place in Group 2 by grabbing two points against the outsiders Bietigheim.

  •  Vardar claimed their ninth straight victory

  •  Buducnost lost their fifth straight away match

  •  Andrea Penezic was top scorer for Vardar with eight goals

  • Bietigheim have lost all three games in the main round


HC Vardar (MKD) vs Buducnost (MNE) 31:24 (19:8)

Buducnost have enjoyed a series of positive results against Vardar in recent years, including last season, when the Montenegrin side won the Balkan derby in Skopje.

But now Vardar, impeccable in the European top flight competition this season, were seen as strong favourites against the rejuvenated Buducnost – and the hosts easily lived up to expectations.

The visitors scored just four goals before the 19th minute as they struggled to find gaps in the solid Vardar defense, and Amandine Leynaud made a few good saves.

The home team looked fully concentrated in the first half as their attackers scored from all angles, and their advantage reached double digits as the Macedonian powerhouse led 19:8 at the break.

A second-half comeback looked impossible for Buducnost as the team of coach Dragan Adzic have not claimed any points away from home during the current European season.

However, the visitors should be credited for their fighting spirit, as the game was more balanced in the second half. Yet Vardar’s win was never in danger, and if Metz Handball lose against Thüringer HC on Sunday, the Macedonian heavyweights will secure first place in Group 2.

After the match, Vardar's Jovanka Radicevic felt that her team will remain undefeated at home this season:

“I'm glad that we entered the game seriously and I think that for this season Jane Sandanski arena will remain undefeated...

This is not our maximum ability, we have more reserves and I think that in every next game we will be getting better.”

FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria (HUN) vs SG BBM Bietigheim (GER) 31:22 (14:8)

For Bietigheim, who are playing in their maiden EHF Champions League campaign, reaching the main round is already quite an achievement. Obviously the German champions would love to broaden their horizons and go even further, but three straight defeats suggest that this will be difficult to achieve.

Just like against Vardar last week, Bietigheim tried to surprise their rivals by playing seven-against-six in attack. For a while it worked, as the visitors were up 5:4 ten minutes into the game, however, the Hungarian side turned the tide and took control, leading by six goals at the break.

The injury-plagued Bietigheim could rely on just ten players in Dabas, and a lack of depth in their squad is just another reason why it is hard for the German side to be competitive in the main round.

Martin Albertsen, Bietigheim's coach, admitted that the injuries hindered his teams performance:

"It was a not easy, because we were missing players, and before the match another player was injured.

Thats why we had only one substitute player and I decided we play seven against six.

I hope next year we can come back and we can show what we are capable of.

I am proud of our players, but I saw some technical faults, which we could avoid."

FTC’s 31 goals, on the other hand, were spread between as many as 12 players, with Laura van der Heijden being the top scorer with five goals.

While Bietigheim tried to make a comeback early in the second half and slashed the gap to 19:15 at one point, FTC had more quality and experience and ultimately deserved a clear nine-goal victory.

TEXT: Sergey Nikolaev/kc