|10.02.2017, 13:21||◄ last page|
GROUP 2 PREVIEW: Györ are edging closer to a quarter-final berth as superstar Nora Mørk will host her ex-club, Larvik. Midtjylland and Bucuresti are seeking home wins.
Györ’s Mørk to face former teammates
It cannot get more special than this for Nora Mørk as the Norwegian superstar will face her former team, Larvik, this weekend. She played seven seasons for the Norwegian club and helped them win the Women's EHF Champions League in 2011.
Mørk's memories will be put on hold for 60 minutes on Sunday as Györ are looking for their eighth win of the season in the competition.
The must-win games continue for CSM Bucuresti as the defending champions host Team Esbjerg, while FC Midtjylland are up against Krim Mercator.
FC Midtjylland (DEN) vs RK Krim Mercator (SLO)
After four consecutive wins on their home court, FC Midtjylland, the pleasant surprise of the season, are eyeing another win.
Györ, CSM Bucuresti and Rostov were the big names that came up empty in Denmark this season, while Esbjerg were swept off in the second half in the all-Danish derby.
Not the ideal prospect for Krim Mercator, who are coming off back-to-back heavy defeats against Györ and CSM.
The Slovenian side collapsed without their emerging star, Elizabeth Omoregie, who has been out for the past two games with a knee injury.
It affected Krim’s attacking prowess and their average number of goals scored per game dropped from 28 in the group phase to 21.5 in the Main Round.
FCM’s loss against Larvik last week came after a tumultuous game when Larvik took control in the last eight minutes and never looked back. But Stine Jörgensen was in top form again after her 12-goal outing against Esbjerg, scoring 10 times against the Norwegian champions.
Jörgensen will be again the go-to player for FCM against Krim, as the left back could exploit Krim’s woes in defence as shown by Anita Görbicz, Eduarda Amorim or Isabelle Gullden in the past two games.
"We have a really good atmosphere in the team and the energy is good. It is a very good moment for us right now," FCM coach Kristian Kristensen said Wednesday after the 33:27 win against Aarhus in the Danish League.
However, Krim also enjoyed a huge win (43:27) against RK Ljubljana in the Slovenian capital derby.
Györi Audi ETO KC (HUN) vs Larvik (NOR)
Györ have been a top favourite for the title every year in the past 10 Champions League seasons. The scenario has not changed this year with the Hungarian powerhouse recording seven wins from eight games in the first part of the season.
With the second best attack - only three goals behind Vardar - and the best defence of the entire competition, Györ are on track to win Group 2. They could edge closer to a quarter-final berth with a win against Larvik.
The game between the two teams has become an instant classic in the European premium competition. They met 18 times in the past 11 years, with the Hungarian team earning 12 wins against Larvik’s six.
It will be a special game for Nora Mørk. The 25-year old right back will play for the first time against the team she represented for seven seasons, between 2009 and 2015.
The right back won the competition with Larvik in 2011, while losing the final two years later against Györ.
Mørk has been slowly adapting to Györ’s style and is the team’s top scorer with 45 goals.
Both teams are undefeated in the first two games of the Main Round, with Larvik failing to capitalize on CSM’s woes in the maiden game when the Norwegian side blew a three-goal lead with 150 seconds to spare.
Larvik’s morale was boosted by a 34:24 win against Stabaek in the domestic league – their 200th consecutive win on home court in Norway. Györ saw off Vaci 33:22 in their 13th straight win in the Hungarian league.
CSM Bucuresti (ROU) vs Team Esbjerg (DEN)
The title holders are in dire need of a winning streak with the business end of the Women's EHF Champions League already in sight. Bucuresti are hoping to win two consecutive games just for the second time this season.
There were several bright moments in last week's game but there were also problems that need correcting as soon as possible.
But a clear 33:21 midweek win against HC Dunarea Braila, the second-placed team in the Romanian League, showed signs of promise for Aurelian Rosca’s team.
Isabelle Gullden is slowly getting into top shape, like in the previous season, when she won the top goal scorer award, while the defence is getting better on a game-to-game basis.
CSM will still be without long-term absentees Line Jörgensen and Cristina Varzaru. Goalkeeper Paula Ungureanu has been back in training after a knee injury but was not expected to make her comeback against Esbjerg.
"It is a very important game for us and we must win it because there is no room for mistakes after our start of the season," CSM left wing Iulia Curea said.
The Romanian side will play their home game in the ‘Dinamo’ hall as their regular home court, ‘Polivalenta’, is hosting a tennis match.
Esbjerg have lost four of their last five games by an average of six goals. Especially their attack has suffered without Estavana Polman, who has ended her season due to pregnancy.
The Danish champions must win in Bucharest, and will get hope from CSM having had troubles on home court against Györ and Larvik earlier this season.
TEXT: Adrian Costeiu / ew