Last 10 group phase tickets up for grabs
After BV 09 Borussia Dortmund and Praktiker-Vác booked their spots in last weekend's double headers, the last 10 places in the EHF European League Women group phase will be decided this weekend.
While a number of sides hold comfortable advantages after the first leg, the crucial match will take place in Croatia. HC Podravka Vegeta host MKS Zaglebie Lubin after drawing 24:24 with the Polish club last Sunday in Poland.
- Nykøbing Falster Håndbold will be confident of progression after winning their Danish derby against Viborg HK 34:21 last week. Viborg were runners-up in 2022 but need a massive turnaround to reach the group phase this season
- Siófok KC, Thüringer HC, SCM Ramnicu Valcea, Fana and Neptunes de Nantes all hold leads of between seven and nine goals after the first leg. Nantes, Thüringen and Valcea have the home advantages in the second leg
- Sola HK, Motherson Mosonmagyarovari KC and ES Besancon Feminin all won the first leg by three goals; Sola are the only one of the three with the home advantage in the return leg as they host Rocasa Gran Canaria
- the match in Sola also features two of the highest-scoring players of the first leg: Sola back Kristina Novak netted 11 times, while centre back Marta Mangué scored nine for Gran Canaria
- Hungary could end up with four teams in the group phase if Siófok and Motherson Mosonmagyarovar can secure aggregate wins to join Vác and pre-qualified DVSC Schaeffler
Will Champions League experience show?
All eyes will be on the match in Koprivinica on Friday as two experienced European sides clash again for a place in the group phase.
Hosts HC Podravka Vegeta played the EHF Champions League Women in the previous four seasons, reaching the play-offs in 2020/21. They had also reached the semi-final stage of the EHF Cup in 2019/20 before the season was curtailed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, having beaten Thüringen by 10 goals on aggregate in the quarter-finals.
Lubin qualified for the European League group phase last year after several seasons of missing out in the EHF Cup. They finished fourth in group B, with a win against Nantes in round 6 and a draw against eventual finalists CS Minaur Baia Mare in round 5 the highlights. But they had a couple of close losses too, showing they could compete at this level.
In the first leg on Sunday last week, Lubin took an early lead and had a 12:9 advantage at the break which they had stretched to 15:10 just five minutes into the second half. However, a run of goals from Podravka got the visitors back into the game and when Emilia Galinska missed her last shot in the final minute a draw was sealed.
On paper Podravka will be favourites for the second leg, with the advantage of their home court and fans plus significant experience at the highest European level. But Lubin showed last week they cannot be discounted, setting up a fascinating contest.
EHF European League Women 2022/23 - qualification round 3, second leg
Friday 9 December:
19:00 CET - HC Podravka Vegeta vs MKS Zaglebie Lubin
Saturday 10 December:
14:00 CET - Viborg HK vs Nykøbing Falster Håndbold
14:00 CET - CS Magura Cisnadie vs Siófok KC
18:00 CET - Neptunes de Nantes vs VfL Oldenburg
19:30 CET - Buxtehuder SV vs Fana
Sunday 11 December:
12:10 CET - Super Amara Bera Bera vs ES Besancon Feminin
14:00 CET - Thüringer HC vs IK Sävehof
16:00 CET - SCM Ramnicu Valcea vs H 65 Höörs HK
17:00 CET - SCM Gloria Buzau vs Motherson Mosonmagyarovari KC
18:00 CET - Sola HK vs Rocasa Gran Canaria