Irun hope to end Spanish curse; Dinamo target Romanian firstArticle
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GROUP PHASE KNOCKOUT PREVIEW: Bidasoa Irun welcome Match of the Week for the first time and hope for magic against Wisla Plock after losing clearly in Poland, while Dinamo host Sporting in a sold-out arena

Irun hope to end Spanish curse; Dinamo target Romanian first

The stakes cannot be higher, with the four teams in the VELUX EHF Champions League group phase knockout set to learn their fate this weekend. 

In the Match of the Week, Bidasoa Irun need a miracle if they are to break the Spanish curse that haunts the knockout stage, as they trail by seven goals after their 32:25 defeat against Orlen Wisla Plock in the first leg.

In the other elimination round clash, Dinamo Bucuresti can earn their first Last 16 berth ever, provided they protect the 26:25 lead they took away in the first game against Sporting CP. 

MOTW: Bidasoa Irun (ESP) vs Orlen Wisla Plock (POL) 
Saturday 29 February, 16:00 CET, live on

  • Plock won the first leg 32:25. No team in the group C/D knockout has ever managed to turn a deficit greater than four into a Last 16 ticket

  • Irun are unbeaten at home in this Champions League season, with three victories and two draws

  • it is Irun’s first Champions League knockout match on home ground since 1996, when they drew 23:23 in the second leg of the final against Barcelona

  • the 25:32 result in Plock was Irun’s worst defeat in any European cup match since the 24:32 result in Magdeburg in the EHF Cup 2000/01 semi-finals

  • Plock’s Spanish players Niko Mindegia, Alvaro Ruiz Sanchez and coach Javier Sabate return to their home country for the clash

  • Plock qualified from the play-offs last season, eliminating Bjerringbro/Silkeborg then losing to Szeged in the Last 16

  • in three attempts, no Spanish team has qualified for the Last 16 from the C/D play-offs – La Rioja failed twice, Leon once

C.S. Dinamo Bucuresti (ROU) vs Sporting CP (POR)
Sunday 1 March, 16:30 CET, live on

  • in the first leg between the two sides, Dinamo earned a 26:25 win in Lisbon, after leading by as many as four goals in the first half

  • the two sides also met in this phase of the competition last season, with Sporting handing Dinamo a 59:57 aggregate loss

  • all 2,500 tickets for this game were sold in less than 20 minutes, as there is huge interest in Romania, where no team has ever reached the Champions League Last 16

  • Dinamo have lost only once in the last 11 home games, against Sporting, 27:26, in last season’s knockout

  • the winner of the tie will face either PSG or MOL-Pick Szeged in the Last 16

TEXT: Adrian Costeiu / Björn Pazen / cg