The so-called ‘Group of Death’ in the Women’s EHF Champions League 2016/17 has lived up to its name as one of the big favourites, Rostov-Don, has bowed out after four defeats in their five matches.
While the three teams, Györi Audi ETO KC, FC Midtjylland and CSM Bucuresti, to go through are known, there is still a degree of uncertainty that will make the final round captivating.
Györ are sure to proceed to the next phase with six points, while CSM must win against FC Midtjylland to avoid starting the main round with zero points.
• The three teams qualified from Group C will merge with the three qualified teams from Group D to form Group 2 in the main round. Larvik and RK Krim Mercator are two of the Group D sides already through
• After losing the game against FCM last week, Györ is no longer the only team with a 100% record – Vardar remain the only unbeaten side
• CSM and FCM played against each other last season, with the Romanian squad claiming hard-fought wins in both the home and away matches
GROUP C Györi Audi ETO KC (HUN) vs Rostov-Don (RUS)
Saturday 19 November, 16:00 hrs local time, live on ehfTV.com
The first leg was one of the best games of the season, with a flurry of lead changes, amazing goals and stunning saves that ended with Györ powering to a 28:27 win, leaving Rostov dumbfounded.
Jan Leslie’s side never recovered from the painful collapse and lost the chance to progress to the main round after the 20:22 defeat against CSM last Friday.
Rostov-Don’s fate in the Women’s EHF Champions League was decided when FC Midtjylland won their Round 5 match against Györ on Saturday. The Round 6 game against the Hungarian powerhouse will therefore be a good test for the Russian side before their EHF Cup clashes in 2017.
Surprisingly, Rostov have the best defence in the group and the third best in the competition, with 119 goals allowed so far. Attack is where they failed, losing their calm in tough moments and scoring 117 goals.
On the other hand, the Hungarian side has the third best attack in the competition, with 142 goals thanks largely to their powerful back line, starring Nora Mörk and Eduarda Amorim Taleska.
Both powerhouses are leaders in their domestic leagues: Györ earned a 44:21 win midweek against Kispest, while Rostov thrashed Stavropol-SKFU 38:24 in the Russian league.
CSM Bucuresti (ROU) vs FC Midtjylland (DEN)
Sunday 20 November, 20:00 hrs local time, live on ehfTV.com
Though both teams have earned their main round berth, the game will not be devoid of meaning as it could be a make or break for CSM Bucuresti.
The title holders were impressive when they won both their matches against Rostov, but they will start the next phase with zero points if they are defeated by the Danish side on Sunday.
Midtjylland will start the main round with at least four points after their home wins against CSM, 24:21, and Györ, 27:23, and will be looking to draw level with the Hungarian side on the table following these last group phase matches.
As FCM prepares for the main round, the Danish team also prepares to lose two of its players: Left wing Fie Woller and playmaker Eliza Buceschi.
Woller, who has played for FCM for the last nine seasons, will move to SSG Bietigheim from 1 December, making the game against CSM one of her last in the FCM shirt.
“I can hardly wait to make my debut for my new team, but now I am thinking about the last games with FCM,” said Woller after the 28:26 win against Kobenhavn.
Buceschi, the Women’s EHF Champions League Best Young Player in 2015, did not adapt in Denmark and will return to Romania.
“It was a very difficult decision, but it was the right decision to make. I have to be home and stay closer to my family and friends,” said Buceschi, who scored only five goals this season for FCM.
The Romanian side has had a full week to prepare for the game against FCM, after they postponed their game against CSM Unirea Slobozia for the first week of next year.
Aurelian Rosca, CSM’s new coach, has a 100% record after winning Champions League last week against Rostov, 22:20, and the Romanian league game against CSM Bistrita 35:25.