EHF European Cup 2017/18 - Article - Big names on verge of quarter-finals
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02.03.2018, 20:30◄ last page     


ROUND PREVIEW: The Men’s EHF Cup contenders face the same teams as last week as the second half of the group phase continues
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Big names on verge of quarter-finals

After Frisch Auf Göppingen and Cocks had an early start to the fourth round of matches on Wednesday, when Göppingen won 33:27, the other 14 teams take the floor this weekend in the reverse fixtures of last weekend’s encounters.

  • Magdeburg, Saint-Raphael, Göppingen and Chambery still undefeated
  • Four teams still chasing their first win
  • Group D wide open after surprising win for Thun

GROUP A

SKA Minsk (BLR) vs Bjerringbro-Silkeborg (DEN)
Saturday 3 March, 19:30 local time, live on ehfTV.com

On Saturday, Bjerringbro-Silkeborg took a narrow 32:30 win at home against Minsk, and with another win in Belarus on Saturday night, the Danish side will take a huge step towards consolidating a top two finish in the group.

On only one point, Minsk find themselves in desperate need of a win. Another defeat will end their hopes of reaching the quarter-finals.

However, they are up against an opponent full of self-confidence. On Wednesday night, Bjerringbro-Silkeborg won 31:30 away against number one in the Danish league, VELUX EHF Champions League side Skjern Handbold.

“We have to continue on our high level from that game. We can take a lot with us from that match, but we also know that we are in for a tough fight on Saturday,” Silkeborg line player Michael Knudsen told his club’s website.

SC Magdeburg (GER) vs TATRAN Presov (SVK)
Sunday 4 March, 15:00 local time, live on ehfTV.com

A home win for Magdeburg will guarantee the hosts of the EHF Cup Finals a top two finish in the group and a quarter-final berth at the very least. There may very well be even more in it for Magdeburg, though.

As organisers of the final event, they will proceed directly if they win their group or finish as one of the three best second place teams.

However, that will depend on the last two matches in the group phase. After winning 29:19 in Slovakia on Saturday, Magdeburg are huge favourites in the Getec Arena on Sunday afternoon and they will be keen improve on their tough Bundesliga match on Thursday, when they had to work hard away against Stuttgart before earning a 32:31 win.

GROUP B

Saint-Raphael Var Handball (FRA) vs HF Lugi (SWE)
Saturday 3 March, 20:45 local time, live on ehfTV.com

Saint-Raphael have a perfect record on their minds and their chances of adding yet another victory are good at home against Lugi, who are still on zero points and all but out of the quarter-final running.

However, Saint-Raphael will probably be aware that the Swedish team is not an opponent they can run over.

In the away match in Lund on Sunday, Saint-Raphael actually lost a six-goal lead before snatching a 30:28 win.

Both teams will be entering the Palais des Sports JF Krakowski in Saint Raphael with fresh defeats in their domestic leagues.

On Wednesday, Saint-Raphael lost 31:27 away to HBC Nantes, while Lugi lost 29:25 away against Alingsas.

Füchse Berlin (GER) vs Helvetia Anaitasuna (ESP)
Sunday 4 March, 15:00 local time, live on ehfTV.com

After losing their opening match 26:21 at home against Saint-Raphael, Füchse are still struggling to keep up with the French side at the top of the group.

For Anaitasuna, a win in the Max Schmelling Halle is a must to keep their quarter-final chances alive.

Füchse lead by eight goals in the two teams’ first meeting in Pamplona on Saturday, before Anaitasuna were close to catching up, before losing 30:28.

Füchse will probably be determined to prevent a similarly shaky spell on Sunday afternoon.

GROUP C

RK Nexe (CRO) vs RD Koper (SLO)
Sunday 4 March, 18:00 local time

After Frisch Auf Göppingen’s 33:27 home win against Cocks Wednesday, this match will the only one in the group this weekend.

Nexe boosted the quarter-final dreams enormously through their 31:27 win in Slovenia, where the Croatian side scored the last four goals of the match.

After a 22:22 draw against another EHF Cup participant, TATRAN Presov during the week in the SEHA League, Nexe look set for this crucial clash in the OS Kralja Tomislava on Sunday evening.

Koper will be hoping for more success against opposition keeper Kristian Pilipovic, who was the match winner for Nexe in the first match between the sides.

GROUP D

Fraikin BM. Granollers (ESP) vs Wacker Thun (SUI)
Sunday 4 March, 12:30 local time

Wacker Thun got their first group phase points with a 26:23 win over Granollers at home on Sunday.

With that win, the Swiss team opened up the group, in which no team has maximum points.

At home in the Palau d´Esports de Granollers, the Spanish team will obviously be keen on not only avenging the unexpected defeat, but to boost their quarter-final chances.

Chambery Savoie Mont Blanc Handball (FRA) vs KS Azoty-Pulawy (POL)
Sunday 4 March, 15:00 local time, live on ehfTV.com

As the only undefeated team in the group and losing just point so far, Chambery can take a huge step towards the quarter-finals if they can repeat their 27:25 win against Azoty-Pulawy.

The French team were trailing for 40 minutes in the sides’ reverse fixture last match, but at home in Le Phare, they will feel confident of controlling the match from start to finish.

During the week, Chambery did their duty in the French league by winning 33:24 at home against bottom side Saran, while Azoty-Pulawy suffered a 32:25 loss to Kwidzyn.


TEXT: Peter Bruun / cor

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