After some exciting matches including two draws the latest batch of Champions League fixtures ends today. Below are previews and links to Sunday’s matches. All being well a full review of this round will appear tomorrow morning. Please correct any errors in the comments.
Group B: THW Kiel v IK Savehof (3.15pm UK, live stream)
Kiel will win.
Group C: Bjerringbro-Silkeborg v Chambery (4pm UK, live stream)
Two teams who lost their opening matches. The Danes were late entrants to the Champions League, taking the place that had been allotted to AG Copenhagen, who they now (in resurrected form) trail in the Danish league having blown their own 100% domestic record last time out. In France, Chambery are unbeaten and are broadly keeping pace with Paris so it was something of a surprise that they lost at home to Metalurg in the Champions League. I’m backing the French team to win today.
Group A: RK Partizan v SG Flensburg-Handewitt (6pm UK, live stream)
Flensburg shared 74 goals with Montpellier in the opening round of fixtures with the match ending in a tie. If they share 74 goals today it’ll only because they’ve won 54:20. Their only enemy is surely cockiness. Partizan lost by 7 to Medvedi last week and lost nine times out of ten last year. The earth would tilt slightly off its axis if they did anything other than lose again today.
Group A: Montpellier v Reale Ademar Leon (6pm UK, live stream)
Match of the day as the embattled Montpellierians take on the Spanish dark horses. With the scandal breaking around them Montpellier drew with Flensburg but the next time out in the French League they lost to Toulouse which is something that just doesn’t happen. With this group becoming so tight – 5 of the 6 will be legitimately after the 4 places – they can’t afford to slip up in their home matches. I can’t really call this one.
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.
After yesterday’s lone offering, which finished Constanta 27:37 Veszprèm (making it two from two for the Hungarians), today sees two matches in the EHF Champions League and three out of the four teams have realistic ambitions of progressing well beyond the group stages. All the matches are live on EHF TV and previews and links are below. Please correct any glaring errors in the comments.
Group D: Dinamo Minsk – Croatia Osiguranje Zagreb (5.30pm UK, live stream)
Minsk powered past Besiktas in their two-legged qualifying match but came unstuck in Berlin in the opening match of the main group stage. Zagreb, perennial visitors to the knockout stages, had a more comfortable opening day as they eased past Pick Szeged by opening up a 15:8 half time lead and having a relax in the second half. The Croatians will be looking for a bit more from last season’s club top scorer in Europe (and Zagreb native), Zlatko Horvat to overcome what might be a tricky match in Belarus. It would be a surprise if the result wasn’t a victory for the away team.
Group A: HSV Hamburg – Chekhovskie Medvedi (7pm UK, live stream)
This match between the top two in Group A is a properly enticing prospect. HSV won away in Spain in their opening match whilst the Russians were feasting at home on RK Partizan. Chekhovskie Medvedi reached the Final 4 in 2010 and presumably have designs on doing the same this year, as do the Hamburgers. The boys from the Bundesliga (2011 finalists – beating Chekhovskie Medvedi on the way in the quarter finals) relied on 9 goals from Hans Lindberg in their victory over Reale Ademar Leon and he was similarly important in their dramatic qualifying win over Saint-Raphael Var. Close him down and the Russians will be confident of winning but let him loose and it’ll likely be too tough an ask for them. It should be a great match whatever happens.
A few gremlins prevented me from getting previews and reviews up for the remainder of last week’s matches. Suffice to say that things mostly went according to script on the court but that the Madrid-Kiel game didn’t really live up to the build up. The real major news came from France where Montpellier having performed well in Europe suffered a double whammy of having leading players arrested for betting against their team – a lot more on this to come later – and losing heavily to Paris. There’s a good chance the direction of the French title has already been decided.
There’s just the one match today and that’s previewed below with the normal caveats about wild inaccuracy (please correct me in the comments) …
Group B HCM Constanta v MKB Veszprèm KC (6pm, live stream)
Being the only game today means we can all look towards Romania – although we need to look to the town of Buzau where the game is apparently being played which is some two hours drive across the country from Constanta. Veszprèm of Hungary top Group B after their ten point win over European lightweights former champions Lasko Celje whereas Constanta went down by a handful in Sweden. A win for the visitors will set them up nicely for qualification to the knock out rounds; the home side will find themselves under pressure after a loss especially as their next match is against Kiel. The points heading to Hungary seems the most likely outcome (the bookies have Veszprèm at 1/8 for the win).
If, like me, you find your handball ignorance is showing you might also enjoy this link: it’s the Tactic Corner looking at the Flensburg v Montpellier game which finished 37:37 last week. The page also has Top 5 goals, saves and the like.
First up, the results from the first day of the group stages:
Group A: Chekhovskie Medvedi 38:31 RK Partizan; SG Flensburg Handewitt 37:37 Montpellier
Group B: IK Savehof 35:31 HCM Constanza
Group D: Kadetten Schaffhausen 23:33 Barcelona
Modesty prevents us from saying that we called all those correctly. Anyway, onto Friday’s previews …
Group B: MKB Veszprém KC – Celje Pivovarna Lasko (4pm UK, live stream)
Veszprém of Hungary were finalists in 2002 but their best showing in recent years has been to make it to the final eight and in the last two years they’ve had to settle for elimination at the first knock out stage. Their Slovakian opponents today have an even less illustrious history in the Champions League but were Cup Winners Cup semi finalists last year. The points will be staying in Hungary.
Group C: Croatia Osiguranje Zagreb – Pick Szeged (5.30pm UK, live stream)
From Hungarians at home to Hungarians abroad. Pick Szeged won twice in last year’s group stages whereas Zagreb made it to the quarter finals and gave Kiel a hell of a fright. I’m going for another home victory.
Group A: Reale Ademar Leon – HSV Hamburg (6pm UK, live stream)
HSV have had a topsy-turvy Bundesliga so far – losing their opening game to Wetzlar but drawing with SG Flensburg-Handewitt. Reale Ademar Leon are unbeaten in the Asobal but their most recent match was a somewhat surprising draw against Academia Octavio. Which is a long way of saying that this is the most interesting match of the day. A draw.
Group C: Gorenje Velenje – St. Petersburg (7pm UK, live stream)
Gorenje Velenje reached the quarter finals of the EHF Cup last season where they had the misfortune to meet Rhein Neckar Loewen – but they still only lost by 3 over the 2 legs. St Petersburg are perrenial runners-up in the Russian championship and they haven’t yet made it out of the group stages in the Champions League – but they have half a dozen new players looking to prove themselves and I’m backing them to win a close one here today.
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.