EHFCL Round 8 preview: A key match for Gorenje, a rematch between Celje and Kiel
Round 7 saw some disappointing results for some SEHA teams, but not Celje and Vardar. The Slovenian champions beat the mighty Kiel in Germany 29:26. To make the win even more impressive, it came without their 3 important players- Mackovsek, Mitrovic and Mlakar. Now, they have a chance to beat them again, as this week - Celje host Kiel. With 4 wins and 3 losses, Gorenje absolutely have to win this match against Dinamo Bucuresti in order to keep competing for the next round. And can PPD Zagreb achieve their first win in Champions League against Kiril Lazarov and the rest of the Nantes squad?
Gorenje are opening this week's action as they host the Romanian side Dinamo Bucuresti. This is the second time these two teams meet and Gorenje are heavy favorites entering the match. They beat Dinamo in Romania back in September and the fans will expect nothing less on Thursday night in Velenje. It is important to notice that the Slovenian team won all three matches at home in the Champions League, beating Skjern, Elverum and Ademar Leon. In addition to that, Dinamo are currently bottom of the group, so everything is pointing in Gorenje's way in round 8.
Weekend's action is commenced with Metalurg and their match against Besiktas. After traveling to Belarus to face Meshkov Brest in the SEHA - Gazprom League, Metalurg will have another distant trip to Turkey. Both teams have 5 points after 7 rounds and have slim chances of progressing to the next stage of the competition. Besiktas beat Metalurg in Skopje the last time these two teams clashed and they are the favorites again in Turkey. However, without a realistic chance for both teams to reach the next phase, the winner will be hard to predict.
The European champions will host the German champions on Saturday in Skopje. They have not played this season, but it is interesting that Rhein-Neckar Loewen beat Vardar in Skopje last November. This time, Vardar are unbeaten in both SEHA and Champions League, and RN Loewen will perhaps have a harder time beating them. The Germans are also unbeaten in the Champions League, but they did record 3 draws in 7 rounds, including one in Barcelona last week. It will surely be another terrific match, as both teams will look to prolong their unbeaten runs in the Champions League.
The first out of three SEHA teams to play on Sunday will be Celje who host Kiel. After a spectacular win in Germany, Celje are going to be very motivated to win again. Both teams currently have 5 points and a win for any of them would mean a huge step towards securing a place in the next round. Celje are struggling hard with injuries, but it did not prevent them from achieving a massive win in Germany last week. It might be hard, but the home fans believe their team has what it takes to win 2 more points against the strong German side. The last time Kiel traveled to Celje was in November 2015; the score was 23:23. It will surely be a match you do not want to miss.
At the same time, PPD Zagreb will start their match in France, against Nantes. The French side is currently in a very good run of form, winning the last 3 Champions League matches. On the other side, we mentioned many times that PPD Zagreb are struggling in the Champions League, winning only 2 points in 7 matches. Nantes have 9 points and are pretty confident they will hold onto at least the fourth spot in Group A, and they have been playing really well recently. A lot of factors are pointing to Nantes, but can the French side deal with the pressure?
The last match of the week featuring SEHA teams is going to be between Flensburg and Meshkov Brest. Similar to Celje and Kiel it will be a repeat of Round 7, when the German team took 2 points in Belarus. It is the fourth match these two sides play in 2017, Flensburg won all three so far. Once again, they are the favorites, and winning this one would be a big step forward towards securing a Top 3 finish in Group B. Meshkov currently have 5 points and are still very much competing for the spot in the next round. Finally beating Flensburg would be a massive result, especially in this stage!
Thursday November 16th
19:00 Gorenje Velenje- Dinamo Bucuresti
Saturday November 18th
14:00 Besiktas Mogaz HT- Metalurg
17:30 Vardar- Rhein-Neckar Loewen
Sunday November 19th
17:00 Celje Pivovarna Lasko- THW Kiel
17:00 HBC Nantes- PPD Zagreb
19:00 Flensburg-Handwitt- Meshkov Brest