Today sees the start of the 2012/13 Champions League main groups stages. The road to Cologne and the Final 4 starts here. All the matches are being shown online by Laola1 TV in partnership with EHF TV (there are local blackouts but none applies to the UK) and one game per week gets the full on MATCH OF THE WEEK treatment with commentary by Tom O’Brannaigain. This week’s MOTW is Atletico Madrid vs THW Kiel on Sunday.
Handball Views has decided to cast its inexpert eye over today’s games. There are also direct links to the webstreams. Enjoy!
Group A: Chekhovskie Medvedi v RK Partizan (Live stream, 5.30PM UK)
Chekhovskie Medvedi made the Final 4 in 2010, the quarter finals in 2011 but last season, despite a positive points difference, could not make it past the group stages. They recorded four draws in their ten matches – all against teams that qualified. They are the dominant force in the Russian Super League though having claimed 10 domestic titles in the same number of years. The Serbs of RK Partizan (their team is entirely Serbian, that’s not just an expression) however lost all 10 of their matches and had to come through a qualifying tournament against weak opponents to make the main stages. We’ll go Russian with this one.
Group A: SG Flensburg-Handewitt v Montpellier (Live stream, 6PM UK)
Even without the minor matter of the French team being investigated for match fixing all eyes would probably be on this one. Montpellier have started the French season in scarily dominant form whereas Flensburg stuttered in their first Bundesliga challenge – drawing against HSV Hamburg (who are also in this group). But they’ve had 15 days to mull on that and tasted European success by winning the Cup Winners Cup last year. Whatever happens – and I have literally no idea – this should be a tough match although regardless of the result both teams should expect to qualify by beating their rivals in the division.
Group B: IK Sävehof – HCM Constanta (Live stream, 6PM UK)
Gothenburg’s finest take on the boys from Romania in Group B. They’re amongst the four teams battling for the remaining qualification places once THW and Atletico have taken their spots. IK got out of the group last year but lost heavily to AG Copenhagen; HCM Constanta are regulars in the group stages but don’t often make it beyond that and managed only 1 win from 10 in last year’s competition. Handball Views reckons it’ll be Swedish success tonight.
Group D: Kadetten Schauffhausen v Barcelona (Live stream, 7PM UK)
These two teams met in the group stages last year with Barcelona winning both matches and there’s a reason why Barcelona are 1/10 with the bookies to win in Switzerland tonight. It’s because they’re much, much, much better. Schauffhausen will have to hope to not fall behind early and try to niggle their way to a result. But it’ll be a big Barca win.