Close matches promised in exciting quarter-finals
After a one-month hiatus, the EHF European League Women is back as eight clubs try to secure their spot at the EHF Finals 2023 in Graz.
Ikast seek to extend their positive streak in the competition against a well-known opponent – Siófok KC. In their debutant season, Nykøbing Falster Håndbold wants to add more pages to the club's history book against SCM Ramnicu Valcea.
Thüringer HC hope their second appearance in the quarter-finals will deliver a better outcome this time, while BV Borussia 09 Dortmund are the obstacle for Neptunes de Nantes to reach their second EHF Finals.
QUARTER-FINALS, FIRST LEG
SCM Ramnicu Valcea (ROU) vs Nykøbing Falster Håndbold (DEN)
Saturday 18 March, 16:00 CET, live on EHFTV
- Valcea secured their second straight quarter-final berth after beating Praktiker-Vác in round 6 which secured second position in group D; Nykøbing finished top of group C due to a better goal difference than DVSC Schaeffler and Sola
- this will be the first time these two sides meet in European competition
- the third most efficient attack will meet the third best defence of the group phase – Valcea netted 5 goals per game on average while Nykøbing conceded 25.2 goals per game
- the Romanian side have not lost on home court this season; Nykøbing were defeated only once in an away match
- in domestic competitions this week, Valcea lost 24:32 away to CSM Bucurest while Nykøbing beat Viborg 27:24 at home
Siófok KC (HUN) vs Ikast Handbold (DEN)
Saturday 18 March, 20.00 CET, live on EHFTV
- Siófok ended the group phase second in group A with eight points, while unbeaten Ikast ended up with 12 points to win group B
- the Hungarian side won all three of the two sides’ previous encounters, including in the European League semi-finals in 2021
- Ikast reached the EHF Finals in both of the last two seasons, finishing fourth in 2021 and third in 2022
- Siófok were runners-up in 2021, but did not play the European League last year
- Siófok coach Uros Bregar: "We will play against probably the tournament's favourites, and we want to show why we are also here. I want that my players enjoy this fight against the Danish side and will do everything to have some success."
- while the two teams conceded a similar number of goals in the group phase, Ikast’s attack was far more effective with 189 goals scored compared to 153 for Siófok
Sola HK (NOR) vs Thüringer HC (GER)
Sunday 19 March, 16.00 CET, live on EHFTV
- both teams won four group phase games, with Thüringer adding one draw and one defeat and Sola two losses. Sola qualified for the quarter-finals due to beating DVSC Schaeffler on goal difference
- it is the first time in history that these two teams will face each other in a game
- only Ikast scored more goals (189) in the group phase than Thüringer, who netted 188 times in six matches
- Thüringer are one of three teams to have reached this stage from the first qualification round, alongside Siófok and Nykøbing
- Thüringer’s Annika Lott scored 40 goals in six games in the group phase, while Live Rushfeldt Deila from Sola scored 36 times
On Sunday we meet a German team, who play good handball with a fast pace. They have individual players who are among the top scorers in the league, and are good on defense.
It will be tough for us, but we will be ready for the game and give what we have to advance to the Final 4.
Neptunes de Nantes (FRA) vs BV Borussia 09 Dortmund (GER)
Sunday 19 March, 18:00 CET, live on EHFTV
- Nantes ended the group phase second in group B with six points after three wins and three defeats; Borussia won group A with only one loss
- the two sides have never met before
- Nantes' right wing Nathalie Hagman was the third top scorer after the group phase, netting 43 times
- the German club have had a successful debutant season in the second-tier after two years of playing in the EHF Champions League Women
- Dortmund coach Henk Groener: "It will be tough to play in Nantes, because they have a very good team. Lately we didn’t play well in the league, but the European League is a different competition."
- Nantes, the 2021 champions, are back in the quarter-finals after failing to progress from the group phase in the 2021/22 season
- this week Nantes suffered a narrow 21:22 defeat away against Paris 92 in the French league; injury-depleted Borussia lost to Buxtehuder SV 24:27 at home
Photos © @imageplusro - ImagePlus; Kenneth McDowell