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Women´s Champions League – Round 4

stregspiller.com MATCH OF THE WEEK PREVIEW – FTC Railcargo vs Bietigheim – it’s the re-match of the previous Champions League round.

Can coach Albertsen’s squad prevail in one of Europe’s noisiest handball arenas or will we see a repeat performance of Kovacsics & Co.?

Two weeks ago, the German vice-champions were able to hang with the Hungarians at least for 30 minutes of the game, before FTC opened a four-goal lead, mid-way in the second half.

Current Situation

Danish international, Fie Woller (Bietigheim) will be missing in action as she is still recovering from a fiber tear in her abdominal muscles. Expect Kim Braun, who showed two good performances in the league and German Cup match against Goeppingen, to take her place on left wing.

Coach Elek (FTC) continues to miss Melinda Szikora (goalkeeper) and Bobana Klikovac (pivot).

Trend

After their opening loss against CSM Bucuresti, FTC were able to win the next two games – at home against Vipers Kristiansand, in dramatic fashion and courtesy of a last second goal from team captain, Aniko Kovacsics, followed by the successful trip to Bietigheim, two weeks ago.

For many of the pundits, Bietigheim’s draw in their first match against the Norwegian champion came unexpected but the real surprise followed in round two of the Champions League, when they defeated the star-studded team from Bucuresti (30:28).

Unfortunately, the team of Martin Albertsen could not maintain the high level that’s required, in the second half against FTC Railcargo, when they met in Ludwigsburg on October 21.

What’s at Stake?

Although, it’s only round four of the 2018/19 Champions League campaign, much is at stake. The four teams in Group D are much more evenly matched then current standings suggest. Case in point, the two clubs in third (Bietigheim)- and fourth place (Kristiansand) have received the least goals, so far.

In light of CSM Bucuresti enjoying home court advantage in two of the remaining three matches, the fight between FTC and Bietigheim is even more significant, as either team can substantially improve their advancement to the next round with a victory.

In the match against CSM, Bietigheim demonstrated what they are capable of, but can they reproduce this outstanding performance, at least, one more time?

Here is how it all shapes up before the clash in Budapest, on Sunday afternoon.

Goalkeeper: Blanka Biro / Zsofi Szemerey vs Dinah Eckerle / Valentina Salamahka

In the previous game Blanka Biro did not get her hands on a single ball, fortunately Zsofi Szemerey stepped up and produced a 42% save rate.

On the other side, German international, Dina Eckerle, and her colleague, Valentina Salamahka, combined for 36%. It wasn’t their fault that Bietigheim could not keep at least a point in the previous game.

Advantage: It’s an even match – your pick.

Right Wing: Viktoria Lukacs / Dorottya Faluvegi vs Daniela Gustin / Angela Malestein

It won’t be FTC’s right wing players that will decide the match in their favor. Neither Lukacs nor Faluvegi have played a dominant role in offense, thus far. Whereas Malestein has scored consistently and showed an outstanding performance against CSM in round two, adding 7 goals of her own.

Advantage: Bietigheim

Right Back: Noemi Hafra / Dora Hornyak vs Charris Rozemalen / Laura van der Heijden 

The Hungarian “Wunderkind”, Noemi Hafra (20), has left her mark already. In the summer she won the IHF Women’s Junior World Championship with the national team and in the 2018/19 Champions League, she is the high scorer (18 goal after 3 games) in a formidable FTC back-court.

It’s unlikely that Dora Hornyak will see meaningful minutes in offense, as she is replaced by Nerea Pena when FTC has possession of the ball.

The performance of neither Laura van der Heijden, nor Charris Rozemalen, so far this season, can compare against FTC’s young star.

Advantage: FTC 

Center Back: Aniko Kovacsisc vs Kim Naidzinavicius / Anna Loerper

Kim Naidzinavicus has recovered well after the knee injury she suffered in the opening minutes of the 2017 World Cup, last December. If Bietigheim are to stand a chance in Budapest, another break-out performance of the team captain of Germany’s national team will be necessary. While Naidzinavicius can rely on the help of veteran player, Anna Loerper, FTC’s, Aniko Kovacsics will have to run the show all by herself.

Still, the Hungarian playmaker is one of the world’s very best players covering the position and it will be tough to limit her circles, especially at home.

Advantage: FTC

Left Back: Nerea Pena / Kinga Klivinyi vs Karolina Kudlacz Gloc / Maura Visser

FTC’s back-court line up is not exactly written in stone, as Pena and Hafra exchange positions frequently.   The Spanish veteran has consistently improved her performance throughout the season and much of her club’s success is directly related. Expect Kinga Klivinyi to see some minutes on the pitch as well and if she repeats what she did two weeks ago, it will look good for FTC.

Karolina Kudlacz-Gloc had a quiet game in Ludwigsburg, shooting 2/2, when the two teams last met. It will be imperative that she as well as Dutch international, Maura Visser, step up their game if Bietigheim are to score a point or more in Budapest.

Advantage: FTC

Left Wing: Nadine Schatzl / Greta Marton vs Kim Braun

Let’s put it this way – Nadine Schatzl rarely misses a beat when she gets a scoring opportunity. In fact, only in the third round of the 2018/19 Champions League did FTC’s left wing miss her first shots! Enough said.

As Fie Woller is expected to miss Sunday’s match, the responsibilities on left wing will be squarely placed on the shoulders of Kim Braun. No easy task in the heated atmosphere at Erd Arena.

Advantage: FTC

Line Player: Rea Meszaros / Danick Snelder vs Luisa Schulze / Antje Lauenroth 

If Bietigheim claim success in Budapest, Luisa Schulze and Antje Lauenroth should have a hand in it. In all due respect to Lea Meszaros, but she has her qualities on the defensive end of the court and only there. And if Danick Snelder has to sit out most, if not all, of the game again, coach Albertsen’s crew has the advantage. They should benefit from the skills and physical presence of Schulze, in particular.

Advantage: Bietigheim

Coach: Gabor Elek vs Martin Albertsen 

Gabor Elek has seen it all and Martin Albertsen will find it tough to outsmart his opponent on home court. He will have his hands full, keeping his team’s defense tight, while maintaining order on the other end of the pitch. If he can orchestrate both, Bietigheim has a shot, otherwise it will quickly turn into a long Sunday afternoon.

Advantage: FTC

/ JS

 

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