No time this morning for a proper review of the three games so far – one wild encounter and two draws – but that’s okay because there are a chunk more coming up, including the first live game on Premier Sports in the UK. Here they are – and, as ever, correct me in the comments!
Group D: Barcelona v Fuechse Berlin (3.15PM UK, live stream)
The Catalan Powerhouse (TM) barely had to get out of second gear in registering a massive victory in their opening match in Switzerland whereas the 2012 Final 4 reps had a fiddlier victory at home to Dinamo Minsk. They will need a major step up in performance if they are to get something out of their visit to Spain but obviously are more than capable of rising to the big occasions. It was the Foxes, after all, who halted THW Kiel’s 40 match winning streak in the Bundesliga. Berlin’s top scorer from last season’s Champions League Sven-Sören Christophersen was quiet in the Minsk match so they’ll want a bit more from him and need to combine that with smart defence. Simple.
Group B: Celje Pivovarna Lasko – BM Atletico Madrid (3.30PM UK, live stream)
The bottom two in Group B meet in Slovenia and anything other than a big win for the Spanish giants over their hosts will be a shock so severe French authorities will want to investigate the betting. Madrid were far from coherent in their game against Kiel but five wins from five in the Asobal (with an average win of +5) show that they have little problem getting past weaker outfits. Celje will have to wait until the visit of IK Savehof before they a realistic chance for a home win.
Group C: St. Petersburg – Vive Targi Kielce (4pm UK, live stream)
A match only a mother could love. St Petersburg got a handball lesson from Gorenje Velenje in the last match whereas the nine-time Polish champions eased past the second-best team in Denmark. They did so on the back of a combined 16 goals thrown in by Ivan Kupic and Zeljko Musa who both practically doubled their tally in European competition in one game. Presumably St Petersburg will be tougher nuts to crack, especially at home, but you’d have to back an away win here.
Group D: Pick Szeged v Kadetten Schaffhausen (4.15pm UK, Live on Premier Sports)
The first Match of the Week to be broadcast in the UK on Premier Sports and it’s not exactly the one you’d be rushing to tell your mates about. The Hungarian hosts fought back well in Zagreb last week but were still comfortably beaten and for the Swiss there was only the inevitable home defeat to Barcelona. They will both have marked this game as being a possible win but the bookies make the home team firm favourites. That may be unfair on Schaffhausen but given that even Montpellier came unstuck in Szeged last year (no comments please) it’s probably wisest to back the Magyars.
Group C: HC Metalurg v Gorenje Velenje (5pm UK, live stream)
Two teams that won in their first matches will be looking to further strengthen their chances of qualifying out of the wide-open Group C. Metalurg caused a bit of a shock by beating Chambery in France in the opening game and are comfortable favourites here. The boys from Skopje aren’t top of their regional league but that’s possibly because they’ve only played one game in it so far – but they did win that 31:19 – and it took a strong Zagreb performance to knock them out last year with Metalurg winning the home leg but losing on aggregate. Two-time champions of Slovenia, Gorenje Velenje are unlikely to be winning today.