If you haven’t already done so locate the a full replay of the Fuechse Berlin v Barcelona match and don’t answer the phone for the next two hours. Your life will be much better for it.
Having done that, let’s look over this weekend’s results in the men’s and women’s Champions League – and also see the fixtures for this week’s matches. Starting with the men …
The leadership of Group A switched hands following the draw between Chekhovskiye Medvedi and HSV Hamburg – their second tie in the group stage. The lack of winner opened the way for SG Flensburg-Handewitt who took advantage by overwhelming Partizan Belgrade. Those three have qualified. The fourth place is between Ademar Leon of Spain and Montpellier. In their head-to-head it was the Spaniards who emerged victorious 30:28. Both teams now sit on five points with two matches remaining.
Group B remains tight with only the super soaraway leaders of MKB Veszprém and the annoyingly consistent THW Kiel assured of qualification. They both won again at the weekend – by a combined margin of 21 goals. Atletico Madrid did their qualification chances no harm at all with a win over Celje Pivovarna Laško – realistically with 8 points they are now through. The other three can scrap amongst themselves for the final qualifying berth.
Two teams in Group C have a solitary win to their name but at least one of those, Chambery, can also say they have known only victories in 2013. They will need two more wins and a lot of luck to overturn the team they beat, Bjerringbro-Silkeborg of Denmark, but at least they are still alive. Gorenje, Metalurg and Vive Targi Kielce are already through.
In Group D we had the aforementioned belter between Fuechse Berlin and the Catalan Supermen. It ended with victory for the Germans. Somehow. Elsewhere, Croatia Zagreb have appealed the result in their defeat to Dinamo Minsk based on a player returning prematurely in the 2 minutes and Kadetten Schahffhausen smashed Pick Szeged. It’s one from Zagreb, Szeged and Schaffhausen for the final spot.
We’re into the Main Round (Second Group Stage) in the women’s Champions League. In Group A, the powerhouses are looking powerful. Larvik have now won two from two and this time out edged a tight one in Buducnost. Gyori Audi had an occasionally tough and always noisy game in Denmark in Randers but took the points. It’s looking good for Gyori and Larvik to progress.
Similarly in Group B, two teams have two wins: Krim Ljubljana beat Romanian opponents Oltchim Ramnicu Vâlcea 28:24 and Ferencvaros (they’re called FTC Rail Cargo Hungaria for sponsorship kicks) edged a very close one (but not defensively great) against the Russians Zvezda Zvenigorod.
This week’s fixtures which will all be covered live (and legal) by ehftv.com – over on Premier Sports it looks like ice hockey is being shown when the match of the week would be on so we’re internet-only in the UK – are below:
Wednesday 6pm (UK): SG Flensburg-Handewitt – Reale Ademar Leon
Thursday 7pm – Kadetten Schaffhausen v Fuechse Berlin
Saturday 3pm – St Petersburg v Metalurg
Saturday 3.15pm – Barcelona v Croatia Zagreb
Saturday 3.30pm – Celje Pivovarna Lasko – HCM Constanta
Saturday 4pm – Vive Targi Kielce – Chambery
Saturday 4.15pm – Pick Szeged v Dinamo Minsk
Saturday 6pm – Partizan Belgrade – HSV Hamburg
Sunday 4pm – Atletico Madrid v IK Savehof
Sunday 4pm – Bjerringbro-Silkeborg – Gorenje Velenje
Sunday 6pm – THW Kiel – MKB Veszprem (Match of the Week – Commentary in English)
Sunday 6pm – Montpellier – Chekhovskiye Medvedi
Saturday 4.45pm – Larvik v Gyori Audi
Saturday 5pm – Oltchim Ramnicu Valcea v Zvezda Zvenigorod
Sunday 2.15pm – Krim Liubljani v Ferencvaros Rail Cargo Hungaria
Sunday 6pm – Randers v Buducnost
Bless the good people at Premier Sports. The World Championship Final between Spain and Denmark will be live from 4.05pm (match starts 4.15pm) on Sunday 27 January on Sky Channel 428. Free to anyone as well as they’re having a freeview weekend.
Tomorrow sees the return of the EHF Women’s Champions League with the first match of the main round. The ‘Main Round’ is the second group stage of the competition wherein the eight remaining teams slug it out for the semi final spots. This weekend, oddly(*), sees only the one match but it could be a good one: the Scandinavian ‘derby’ between the Norwegians of Larvik and the Danes of Randers.
Randers finished second in their group with a three wins, three losses record and were dependent on a final game victory over Hypo Niederoesterreich to progress. Larvik were Champions League winners in 2011 but were overwhelmed by winners Buducnost in the semi finals last year. The bookies make Larvik 1/8 favourites and in their two previous Champions League meetings (in 2010) they were indeed comfortable winners. But if for no other reason than it’s good both to have the Champions League back and handball available in the UK via decent streams let’s hang on to the idea that it might be a bit closer than all that suggests.
(* = It’s because the Larvik arena is double-booked next weekend).
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.
The Match of the Week is coming to British television. Premier Sports – a subscription channel on the Sky platform on channel 428 – has today announced that it will be showing the Tom O’Brannagáin commentated fixtures either live or on delay as well as the weekly Rewind Show. The first match to be shown will be Kadetten Schaffhausen v Pick Szeged on Saturday afternoon.
There is no word in the announcement as to whether this will stop British Eurosport 2 offering their own, sparser, coverage or whether the Match of the Week will now be blacked out on the EHF TV live stream.
The live internet schedule for the first seven weeks of the men’s EHF Champions League group stage was released this morning. It is one of the pleasures of following handball that Europe’s premier handball tournament can be watched by anybody with an internet connection and the added bonus is that one match per week gets given special status and gets commentary in English provided by the lovably bonkers Tom O’Brainnagan. In addition a sizeable number of games are streamed without commentary both via ehftv.com and Bet365’s live streaming service.
The matches to get the commentary are listed below. Unsurprisingly the matches between Kiel and Madrid will both be shown.
30 September, 5pm UK
Atletico Madrid v THW Kiel
6 October, 4.15pm UK
Pick Szeged v Kadetten Schaffhausen
14 October, 6pm UK
Montpellier v HSV Hamburg
21 October, 6pm UK
Chambery v Kielce
18 November, 5pm UK
Metalurg v Kielce
25 November, 4.15pm UK
SG Flensburg-Handewitt v HSV Hamburg
2 December, 4.15pm UK
THW Kiel v Atletico Madrid
In addition, though perhaps not as exciting is British Eurosport’s schedule. They don’t have anything planned for match days 1 and 3 and for match day 2 will be showing one match on delay at midnight on 7 October (repeated at 10am on the 8th) and for match day 4 there will be a one hour highlights package at 8am on October 22nd. All times UK.
If you want to know more about the EHF Champions League group stage itself see here.
British handball fans – both those who discovered the game through the Olympics and those who have been around for a bit longer – will (hopefully) be pleased to know that British Eurosport 2 will be showing this year’s EHF Champions League.
This is the top-tier competition for clubs across Europe that begins with group stages in September and culminates with the Final 4 weekend in May. Last year, THW Kiel won the competition to complete a remarkable treble of Bundesliga, German Cup and EHF Champions League.
Matches will be shown from September onwards. British Eurosport 2 is available on Sky channel 411 and Virgin channel 525 and you can check the listings here.