Winner Takes All
March 2, 2019
Women´s EHF Champions League
stregspiller.com – MATCH OF THE WEEK PREVIEW – “Winner takes all” – rarely has the old adage been more appropriate to describe the Danish clash between Odense and Kobenhavn, on Saturday afternoon.
The winner in Odense Idrætshal will book the remaining ticket to the EHF Champions League quarter-finals. Only another 24:24 draw – as in their first meeting – can postpone the decision until the very last match day.
By Peter Bruun
Main Round – Group 1
Odense HC vs Kobenhavn Handball – Saturday, March 2nd
Both teams are on six points and since their first meeting ended in a draw, the winner of Saturday’s battle will book the last ticket to the quarter-finals and meet the reigning champion, Györ.
In case of another tie, the team that will have scored more goals in the two direct encounters will proceed, and only another 24:24 (the result of the first match between the two teams), will the decision be postponed until last match day, when Kobenhavn will be receiving Metz, while Odense will fly to Russia facing Rostov-Don.
Odense will be missing right back, Mette Tranborg, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee, in Brest, last Sunday. The 23-year-old Danish international is expected to be sidelined for 10 months.
In the same match, the club’s other key player, Stine Jørgensen, only played limited minutes because of problems with her Achilles tendon. It is uncertain how much this issue will affect her on Saturday.
Kobenhavn will make the trip west without playmaker, Mia Rej, who sustained the exact the same injury as Tranborg, back in September of last year.
Odense came back from a 7:2 deficit to succeed 29:24 at Brest Bretagne Handball in their latest Champions League game, while Kobenhavn ran over Buducnost (31:20).
For quite some time already, Odense have been assured of winning the Danish league, where they gave up only three points, thus far. But, the three points have been lost in their most recent matches.
Kobenhavn on the other hand are struggling to get into the best possible position for the championship play-offs.
On Wednesday, Odense suffered their first defeat (24:27) in the domestic league, at home, against Aarhus United, as they were playing without Althea Reinhardt, Stine Jørgensen, Nadia Offendal and the aforementioned Mette Tranborg, while Kobenhavn beat Holstebro 37:26.
Althea Reinhardt/Tess Wester vs Johanna Bundsen/Emily Stang Sando/Amalie Milling
Before the start of the 2018/19 season, Tess Wester would have been Odense’s first-choice keeper, but since then Althea Reinhardt has reached the highest saving percentage in the Danish league.
For the past months, Johanna Bundsen has been struggling with the impact of a brain concussion, but last weekend she was back in action against Buducnost. Still, head coach, Claus Mogensen, has three excellent options in goal. Norwegian Emily Sando, who became redundant in Odense just before this season, has proven her class ever since she signed with the Danish champion, while youngster, Amalie Milling, has shown her potential as well.
Trine Østergaard/Jessica Quintino vs Debbie Bont/Line Bjørnsen/Andrea Hansen
The Danish/Brazilian duo has done very well for Odense this season, Quintino being in better form as of late.
Kobenhavn offers a trio, including Dutch international Debbie Bont. She is the preferred player after the return of Line Bjørnsen and 18-year-old Andrea Hansen.
Nadia Offendal/Stine Jørgensen/Mie Højlund/Susanne Madsen/Ingvild Bakkerud vs Anne Cecilie de la Cour/Hanna Blomstrand
Anybody´s guess is probably as good as mine, when predicting who Jan Pytlick will nominate as right back, in the absence of Mette Tranborg.
Two or more of the players mentioned above will get the nod, but no matter what Pytlick’s ultimate decision will be, the visitor’s Danish/Swedish duo will dominate.
Mie Højlund/Nadia Offendal vs Jenny Alm/Mai Kragballe/Larissa Nüsser
Expect Kobenhavn’s players run into problems against Højlund and the experienced Nadia Offendal.
Stine Jørgensen/Ingvild Bakkerud vs Kelly Dulfer/Jenny Alm
A fit Stine Jørgensen and the talented Ingvild Bakkerud as a qualified backup would normally outplay their opponent, despite Dulfer´s impressive season, thus far. Alm may share her time as playmaker and the other back court positions.
Freja Cohrt/Suzanna Bækhøj vs Louise Føns/Maria Wall
Maria Wall is fit again as her knee injury has kept her off court ever since she signed with Kobenhavn. Yet, it remains unknown, if she will make her Champions League debut on Saturday.
Louise Føns, who had ended her career after last season, became the only other option in this position after Thea Mørk ended her career. Føns has played an excellent season and there is no reason, why it shouldn’t continue.
Kathrine Heindahl/Sara Hald/Kamilla Larsen vs Linn Blohm/Annika Meyer
First-choice pivot, Danish international, Kathrine Heindahl, performs equally well on both ends of the court, and although Swedish international, Linn Blohm is an outstanding line player, Odense will have the edge.
Jan Pytlick vs Claus Mogensen
The choice is easy, or not? 14 years experience as Denmark’s national team coach clearly speak for Jan Pytlick.
However, Claus Mogensen has done an impressive job in Kobenhavn and his tactical skills are second to none.
Odense appears to be the favorite and should make it to the quarter-final. But, is it that simple? The loss of Mette Tranborg is a severe handicap and Jan Pytlick will have his work cut out.