Men´s Champions League – Round 6
By Peter Bruun
Player(s) of the Match
Sander Sagosen, PSG
The 23-year-old Norwegian wasn’t the highest scoring player, as PSG defeated Pick Szeged 33:31 in a thrilling game, in Group B.
Uwe Gensheimer took the “award” with nine goals, while Sagosen scored eight, but because of his impressive efforts at both ends of the court, the versatile back court player was the critical part in the French team’s home win, and deserves the credit.
Igor Karacic, HC Vardar
One day after celebrating his 30th birthday, the Croatian playmaker was found everywhere in Jane Sandanski arena, as Vardar changed a 14:14 at the half and turned it into a convincing 30:23 victory against HC Meshkov Brest, in Group A.
11 goals did Karacic score, before he and his Macedonian teammates would call it a day.
Andy Schmid, Rhein-Neckar Löwen
Schmid returned with fresh energy from a week with the Swiss national team and it showed. The experienced playmaker led Rhein-Neckar´s offense brilliantly once again, as the German vice-champion took a narrow but crucial 29:28 win in Veszprém.
Once again, coach Nikolaj Jacobsen had success playing seven-against-six, as Rhein-Neckar Löwen took their first road win in the 2018/19 VELUX EHF Champions League season.
After their one-goal loss in their opening match against Rhein-Neckar Löwen, Barca just carried on.
This past Sunday, Kielce were dealt only their second defeat this season, when the Polish champions lost 32:27 at Palau Blaugrana.
These days, Xavi Pascual´s team appears in solid and consistent shape and increasingly looks like a serious candidate for winning Group A.
Finally, in their sixth attempt Kristianstad succeeded in recording their first point, as the Swedish champions drew 29:29 at home, against Montpellier.
For Montpellier, the point gained in Sweden was the first one this season as well, while qualifying for the knockout phase seems to be a steep mountain to climb for either team.
Losing by one goal at home to Rhein-Neckar Löwen may not be a disaster in itself, although a defeat at home never really is acceptable in Veszprém.
It was the third loss, following two defeats in the domestic league – 24:22 away against Tatabanya and 32:27 at home against Pick Szeged. By now, Veszprém management must realize that replacing a head coach does not automatically translate into success.
HC Meshkov Brest
A defeat in Skopje in itself may not be a catastrophe, if you are the Belarusian champion. However, the way Meshkov Brest tumbled into a 30:23 loss was (a bit) shameful.
The club from Belarus was leading several times in the first half before changing sides at 14:14. After the break they flat-out collapsed, losing by seven. That’s poor moral if you ask me.
Next weekend will serve a real treat for all lovers of great handball, when Vardar and Barca meet in Group A, on Sunday evening.
Elsewhere, PSG versus Flensburg appears to be the most interesting match in Group B, on Saturday.