|27.02.2017, 14:37||◄ last page|
TALKING POINTS: After a weekend which saw Buducnost end Vardar's unbeaten run, we applauded some extraordinary individual feats, and still can’t believe that no team has been eliminated yet.
Five talking points after the Women’s Champions League action
Round 8 of Women’s EHF Champions League brought top handball action from all over the continent, including two very balanced, tense derbies.
Enjoy the five talking points we considered the most important.
A tragic loss
The European top flight competition is never easy to predict, and the latest edition of the Balkan rivalry was not short of drama. HC Vardar became the last team in the EHF Champions League to suffer a defeat- they lost their unbeaten run in the match against Buducnost on Sunday.
In the wake of their devastating home defeat against Vardar, Buducnost showed incredible strength and dedication to claim a victory in Skopje- winning by exactly the same margin they lost by to Vardar at home.
However, It was an utterly tragic weekend for Vardar's Andrea Klikovac. Her father, who travelled to Macedonia to watch the game, sadly passed away the night before the match.
Two losing streaks finished
While Buducnost put an end to Vardar’s unbeaten run, there were two teams who were happy to break from their respective run of defeats: Team Esbjerg and Astrakhanochka.
Astrakhanochka recorded their first win in the Main Round. The Russian side owe a lot to current top scorer Katarina Sabirova for their victory against Thüringer HC. She scored 13 goals, half of the total number goals they scored in the match.
Esbjerg pulled off their best ever Champions League performance to beat their domestic rivals FC Midtjylland, despite an injury crisis.
However, neither teams’ fate is in their own hands. They both sit at the bottom of their respective groups, and look unlikely to progress to the next round.
A weekend of heroines
The heroine of Round 8 was undoubtedly Katarina Bulatovic, who put 14 goals past Vardar’s goalkeepers and was Buducnost’s inspirational leader in their brilliant win against the Macedonian powerhouse.
It was a close call for this accolade however, as Katarina Sabirova played a huge part in Astakhanochka’s first victory of the Main Round with 13 goals to her name, while the magnificent Anita Görbicz scored 10 goals in Győr’s flawless victory against Krim.
Larvik could have been in trouble against CSM Bucuresti if it wasn’t for Amanda Kurtovic’s 8 eight goals, while Blanka Bíró was once again excellent in goal for Buducnost.
For your own safety, stay at home
Midtjylland had a great chance last weekend to break their run of losses in away games. However, they stumbled again. The Danish side have not recorded a single victory away from home in the current season. While it is acceptable to leave Győr, Bucarest or Larvik empty handed, the Danish derby offered a good chance for Midtjylland to break this trend and secure their place in the quarter-finals at the same time.
Midtjylland beat Team Esbjerg by a 12-goal margin at home when the Syddanmark squad had been without a win in the Main Round (however, they did bring their famous 35-25 victory against Krim from the group stage). But curses are not that easy to lift, and Team Esbjerg made the most of the outstanding performance from Jenny Alm. They once again handed an away defeat to their compatriots.
No teams eliminated yet
With two rounds to go there are still no teams fully eliminated, however Astrakhanochka would need a miracle to qualify for the knockout stage. Team Esbjerg’s huge victory over Midtjylland keep Danish hopes alive and despite Krim’s heavy defeat to Györ, the Slovenian outfit is not out of the race either.
It seems there is only one qualification spot left to fight for in Group 1 as Buducnost sealed their quarter-final spot with their massive away triumph over Vardar, who also have already booked their place in the quarter-final.
On the other hand, only Győr have secured their place in the quarter-final from Group 2, not even second placed Larvik can feel safe due to their negative head-to-head results with Krim.
TEXT: Bence Mártha/kc