Five highlights from long-awaited Round 6
Round 6 of the VELUX EHF Champions League Group Phase had it all. We saw new faces making their debuts and old faces showing us what they do best.
Here are some interesting highlights from last weekend to look back on.
Palmarsson’s debut with Barcelona
Aron Palmarsson was in the spotlight on his debut for FC Barcelona Lassa after his move from Veszprém was sealed late last month.
Barcelona head coach Xavier Pascual said on the Icelander’s arrival that Palmarsson would need some time to adjust to his new team. Without competitive handball so far this season, he scored one goal in the 32:22 win against HC Zagreb in Group A, and was cheered on by Barcelona’s supporters who were excited to finally see the Icelander in action.
Kristianstad proves team effort is not always enough
Reigning champions HC Vardar have not lost a game in Group A this season and IFK Kristianstad could not end that unbeaten run, even on home court. The Macedonian team won 26:23, but what caught the eye was how the goals were spread within the teams.
For Vardar, Vuko Borozan, Dainis Kristopans and Timur Dibirov led the way with seven goals each, scoring 21 of the 26 goals while three of their teammates netted the other five goals.
The situation was completely different for the Swedish side however, where 10 different players divided the 23 goals between them, and only three outside players did not get on the score sheet.
Perhaps it is not always only about team effort.
Montpellier move closer to their record
The Champions League break has obviously not affected Montpellier HB. The French side are the only team in the group phase with full house – the maximum 12 points from six matches – and their latest victims in Group C were Sporting CP.
Not many people would have put their money on the Portuguese side before this game, but with Ivan Nikcevic and his 11 goals anything was possible. It was not until the very end when Valentin Porte scored Montpellier’s winning goal, 33:32.
Montpellier are only two wins away from equalling their longest winning run in the competition from last season. But have a look at the buzzer-beater from Porte:
The show of the goalkeepers
It is always thrilling when the goalkeepers put on a show and that was clearly the case in a tight win for THW Kiel against HC Meshkov Brest in Group B, 25:24.
Niklas Landin saved 18 shots for Kiel while his colleague on the other side, Ivan Pesic, reached a similar standard and together they kept the game exciting to the very last minute.
It was Match of the Week for Round 6 – and surely lived up to that billing.
Better buckle up for next round
Although Round 6 is just behind us, we are already getting excited for the next one. The top clash in Group B between Veszprém and PSG will be a handball fiesta, and the two teams underlined that this weekend.
The French giants had a tight grip on the 2016 champions, PGE Vive Kielce, and took a five-goal victory, 33:28. They responded magnificently to last week’s news that head coach Noka Serdarusic will step aside for Raul Gonzalez, and they continued their unbeaten home-court run, which now stretches to 24 straight Champions League matches.
Meanwhile, the Hungarian side had no trouble to beat Aalborg Handbold at home, 30:24. Mate Lekai was outstanding once again and scored seven goals for Veszprém before picking up an ankle injury. Head coach Ljubomir Vranjes will be hoping that Lekai is available against PSG.
But whether Lekai will make it or not, PSG veteran goalkeeper Thierry Omeyer will be ready.
Author: Andri Yrkill Valsson / ew