By Peter Bruun
A road win against Pick Szeged would have earned Zagreb fifth position and a potentially “easier” opponent in the Round of Last 16.
Actually, the Croatian team was close to pulling a surprise, as they were leading most of the way, but in the end Zagreb had to settle for the draw (26:26).
HC Motor Zaporozhye
They are listed here not because of their performance in their last match, when they lost 31:25 away to PSG, but because of their performance thus far this season. They made the most of a roster that’s anything but intimidating and that calls for respect.
Rhein-Neckar Löwen + Montpellier HB
It hasn’t been the competition for Montpellier HB – not this year. The 2018 Champions League winner has bowed out of the competition with only 7 points after 14 games, a first for a reigning champion. Ongoing injury problems could be compensated for in the domestic league but not on Europe’s big stage.
Rhein-Neckar Löwen saw their name listed in this category several times throughout the group phase as well – for a reason. More than once did the men of coach Jacobsen deliver a sub-par performance in Europe’s premier handball league.
Still they’ll get the opportunity to reverse the impression the team left so far in the competition and there may be no better opponent than last year’s semi-finalist – Nantes – to prove the pundits wrong.
Players of the Match
Ivan Pesic, HC Meshkov Brest
The goalkeeper was one of the key factors why Brest won 32:23 at home against Kristiansand, which earned the Belarusian champions the ticket to the knockout phase.
Kentin Mahé, Veszprém
Yet, another a brilliant performance as playmaker, crowned with eight goals on 10 shots, Mahé played a crucial part, as Veszprém secured second place in Group A.
Vardar vs Montpellier 33:27
Barca Lassa vs Rhein-Neckar Löwen 30:25
Skjern vs Celje 35:32
The group phase is over, and the Round of Last 16 awaits.
Paris Saint-Germain and Barce Lassa (winners of Group A and B) will proceed directly to the quarter-finals and skip this phase pf the tournament.
Sporting Lisbon and Wisla Plock have qualified from Group C and D and it all shapes up as follows:
Sporting Lisbon vs Veszprém
Wisla Plock vs Pick Szeged
Hc Zagreb vs HC Vardar
Meshkov Brest vs Flensburg
Motor Zaporozhye vs Kielce
Rhein-Neckar Löwen vs Nantes