Hunt for crucial points steps up a gear
Unbeaten on their home court, Vipers Kristiansand could eliminate SG BBM Bietigheim from the race for an automatic EHF Champions League Women quarter-finals berth with a win on Saturday in the Match of the Week. Group A leaders CSM Bucuresti may edge closer to a quarter-finals spot in a crunch tie against the in-form team of the group, Odense, who are riding a six-game winning streak.
In group B, all eyes will be on the clash between Team Esbjerg and CS Rapid Bucuresti as the Danish side seeks revenge for their round 4 loss. Powerhouses Metz Handball and Györi Audi ETO KC will try to extend their winning cycle – and if they do so, Györ would become the first team in EHF Champions League history to reach the 200-win mark. Also, either Kastamonu Belediyesi GSK or Storhamar Handball Elite could end their long winless period.
MOTW: Vipers Kristiansand (NOR) vs SG BBM Bietigheim (GER)
Saturday 14 January, 18:00 CET, live on EHFTV
- Vipers are the only team in the competition to have played and won five games on their home court, with a goal difference of +36, or an average margin of win of 7.2 goals per game
- the MVP of the EHF FINAL4 2022, Vipers left back Markéta Jerábková, is the second top goal scorer of the season, with 72 goals, only three goals shy of the leader, CSM’s Cristina Neagu - but she will miss this game with a broken nose
- Bietigheim started the season with a five-game unbeaten run, including a huge win at home over Vipers, but have struggled since then and have not won in the last five matches
- another negative result in the MOTW would edge Bietigheim closer to their worst winless run in the European premium competition, which is currently at eight games
- the German side’s away form has been patchy at best, losing the last three games in a row and sealing only three points from a potential 10, with injuries to Danick Snelder and Antje Döll taking a huge toll
We have the chance to put Bietigheim seven points behind us, and we have the loss in the away game as extra motivation. Let's hope that we have learned our lesson from that match, and that we can be at our best on Saturday. It will for sure be a battle if we want to take two points.
Away against the defending champions - this game will be a highlight for us. Perhaps the clear role in defence will unleash more strength in us. Kristiansand are an absolute top team and play at an extremely high level. However, our home win in the first match showed us that nothing is impossible.
FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria (HUN) vs Krim Mercator Ljubljana (SLO)
Saturday 14 January, 16:00 CET, live on EHFTV
- this will be Krim’s 295th EHF Champions League match, with the Slovenian side having won 128 games so far
- a win would see Krim create their first three-game winning streak in the Champions League since 2017/2018, when they had such a streak between September and October
- FTC right back Katrin Klujber is the third best scorer in the competition after 10 matches, with 68 goals. Her overall tally is now 336 goals in only five seasons played in the European top competition
- a win would consolidate Krim’s challenge for a play-off berth, as they would leapfrog FTC in the standings; the Hungarian club have conceded three losses in the last four matches
- the two sides have met 14 times since 1996, with FTC taking eight wins, as opposed to Krim’s six. FTC won the last four matches they hosted
We are on the rise. A very difficult period is behind us, a very difficult start to the season. We are a renewed team in a very difficult group. After all these defeats, we managed to pick ourselves up, stay positive and motivated, which we did. We showed the true character of the team when it mattered most.
DHK Banik Most (CZE) vs Brest Bretagne Handball (FRA)
Saturday 14 January, 16:00 CET, live on EHFTV
- Most are the only side in the competition to have lost all 10 games so far this season. They have a -164 goal difference and will be mathematically eliminated from contention for a play-off berth if they lose once again
- the Czech side are on a 13-game losing streak in the EHF Champions League Women, only three games shy of the record set by Krim between November 2014 and October 2016
- only one side – HC Lokomotiva Zagreb (198 goals) – has scored fewer goals than Most (242 goals) and Brest (248) this season after 10 matches
- Brest have scored the least amount of goals against Most so far this season, taking a 31:26 win in the home match played in round 4 last October
- their encounter in Brest was the first match ever between these two sides
Last time against CSM we lost, but the difference in the final score wasn’t as terrifying as many maybe expected. We still want to play fast and run a lot, in that case we don’t want to change anything. If we play the same as we did last week, we can hope for a better final result.
CSM Bucuresti (ROU) vs Odense Håndbold (DEN)
Saturday, 14 January, 18:00 CET, live on EHFTV
- in the middle of their best-ever start in the history of the EHF Champions League Women, CSM Bucuresti have been close to flawless on their home court, winning four games and drawing the fifth, against Bietigheim
- the Romanian side would create a five-point gap ahead of third-placed Odense if they win, putting them closer to the quarter-finals
- CSM left back Cristina Neagu is the top scorer of the competition so far, with 75 goals, which puts her only 15 goals shy of 1,000 goals in the European premium competition
- CSM have the fourth-best attack in the competition, with 316 goals in 10 matches, 35 more than Odense; goalkeeper Marie Davidsen has the best saving efficiency in the competition, with 108 shots stopped for a 38.6 per cent saving efficiency
- the Danish champions are on a 14-game unbeaten streak in all competitions, including a six-game winning streak in the EHF Champions League Women dating back to October 2022
Looking forward to meeting a good opponent like Odense. I think it will be a very exciting game because of the quality in both teams. We are playing home and we are very excited about feeling again the support from our fans.
HC Lokomotiva Zagreb (CRO) vs Györi Audi ETO KC (HUN)
Sunday 14 January, 18:00 CET, live on EHFTV
- with a victory, Györ will become the first women's team to win 200 matches in the EHF Champions League
- in the first encounter earlier this season, Györ set a record 32:16 win over Lokomotiva
- the Hungarian side will try to claim their third Champions League win in a row; Zagreb, boosted with confidence after a draw against Kastamonu Belediyesi, want to produce their best performance
- Györ are the third most effective team in the competition, scoring 321 goals at 63.5 per cent attack efficiency; Lokomotiva are the least effective team with an efficiency of 48.9 per cent
- Zagreb are the youngest squad in the competition with an average age of 21.7; one of these young talents is 20-year-old right back Klara Birtic who is the team's current top scorer with 33 goals
- Lokomotiva still wait for the start of the Croatian championship, while Györ celebrated a 40:24 win against Dunaújvárosi Kohász KA on Wednesday
We are on a good streak, have caught the rhythm, play good matches, and offer good resistance to our opponents in the Champions League. With our solid 5-1 defence, which has been working well lately, and patient attacking play without technical errors - because they are a team that punishes every mistake - we can also stand up well to Györ. We are overjoyed with the first point in the Champions League that we won against Kastamonu, which is an added motivation and incentive for us.
Kastamonu Belediyesi GSK (TUR) vs Storhamar Handball Elite (NOR)
Saturday 15 January, 14:00 CET, live on EHFTV
- after four straight defeats, Kastamonu drew with Lokomotiva in round 10 of the competition; Storhamar hope to stop a six-match losing run
- the round 4 match between the two went to Storhamar after a last-moment comeback, as Maja Jakobsen sealed the deal for a 31:29 win
- Croatian international Katarina Jezic leads the way for Kastamonu with 52 goals, while Jakobsen has scored two goals more (54)
- both sides have netted exactly 264 times in 10 Champions League matches; however, the Turkish club have conceded 473 goals compared to Storhamar’s 486
- both sides were victorious in their domestic competitions last week: Kastamonu defeated Yalikavak 30:27; Storhamar beat Aker Topphandball 33:24
We are really looking forward for the match against Storhamar as it is our chance to put on in contention to proceed to the knockout matches of the Champions League. It will be a huge result for us to win this match. We really need everyone to come to the match and support us. We need it and i will be like having an extra player on the court.
Metz Handball (FRA) vs WHC Buducnost BEMAX (MNE)
Saturday 15 January, 16:00 CET, live on EHFTV
- Metz are current group leaders with 17 points, coming from an important 26:24 win over Team Esbjerg in MOTW in round 10
- Buducnost beat Storhamar in round 8 but lost the next two matches
- the away team’s centre back Matea Pletikosic has the most assists in the competition, at 57 and is Buducnost’s second top scorer with 45 goals; Metz’s top scorer Bruna de Paula has netted 60 times and added 31 assists
- Metz right wing Debbie Bont: "After the victory against Esbjerg, this is again an important match for us. We will go into the match very focused because Budocnost are a good team."
- Buducnost centre back Natasa Corovic: "Metz are the favourites, but they will have to prove it on the court. It is certain that we will not give up and that we will fight for the whole 60 minutes, so we will see what it will be enough for."
- Metz have the second-best goal difference in the competition, +66; only Györ are in front with +74
- Metz are also the current leaders in the French league after a 31:21 win over Merignac Handball
Team Esbjerg (DEN) vs CS Rapid Bucuresti (ROU)
Sunday 15 January, 16:00 CET, live on EHFTV
- after a 24:26 defeat by Metz, Esbjerg want to bounce back and get their revenge against Rapid Bucuresti after losing the away match 32:34 in round 4
- the Romanian side want to extend their positive streak and take down one more powerhouse of the group, after previously beating Györ and Esbjerg and drawing with Metz
- experienced back Henny Reistad is among the top three scorers in the EHF Champions League, netting 68 times
- Rapid Bucuresti have one of the most efficient goalkeepers on their side: Ivana Kapitanovic has made 102 saves for an efficiency of 33.9 per cent in the first 10 rounds
- the Danish side sit in third place in their domestic league with the most recent win over Ajax København (29:20); Rapid trail behind CSM Bucuresti by six points despite defeating Dunarea Braila 37:29
It will be a difficult and very demanding match, but also
a nice game to play, the team has clear objectives and now we only
depend on ourselves to take another step forward. We have to keep
focused on playing our game and continue to show our best version. I
think the team is doing a very good job and we want to continue in this