Familiar foes meet in crunchtime play-offs

Sergey Nikolaev / Adrian Costeiu

Three double-headers will determine the future of this season’s EHF Champions League Women, with the play-offs set to decide two quarter-finalists to join Györi Audi ETO KC, Team Esbjerg, Vipers Kristiansand and CSM Bucuresti in the next stage.

While the winner between Dortmund and Metz Handball will progress directly to the EHF FINAL4, Odense, Brest, FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria and Krim Mercator Ljubljana are targeting the two quarter-final berths. Odense will face Brest and Hungarian champions FTC will meet an old foe in RK Krim Mercator.

Alongside the top-ranked teams in the groups, who earned direct passage to the quarter-finals, CSM Bucuresti progressed to the quarter-finals directly, as the play-off tie against CSKA was cancelled. Rostov-Don, the second-placed side in group A, were also eliminated from the competition.

MOTW: Krim Mercator Ljubljana (SLO) vs FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria (HUN)
Saturday 26 March, 16:00 CET, live on EHFTV

  • Krim finished sixth in group B with 10 points, securing a play-off spot after beating direct rivals IK Sävehof in the last group match
  • FTC took third position in group A with 19 points — two points shy of second-placed Rostov-Don
  • last season, the rivals met in the group phase, and the Hungarian team won both times — 32:25 and 32:26
  • both sides’ top scorers in the 2021/22 group phase were right wings: Krim’s Katarina Krpez-Slezak netted 66 times, while FTC’s Angela Malestein has 70 goals under her belt
  • before the play-offs, Krim reinforced their squad with Ana Gros, who left CSKA, and Tatjana Brnovic, who signed with Rostov and is in Ljubljana on loan
20220220 Match Krim Savehof 015
FTC have different players — shooters from distance and also players that go one-on-one. This is their power. They are a diverse team — that’s why we will need to be fully ready for them. We will prepare for them, so that they can’t surprise us with anything. The first match will be important — how we will enter into it to show them that it will not be easy. We need to make better results so that is going to be easier in the return match in Budapest.
Ana Gros
Krim right back

BV Borussia 09 Dortmund (GER) vs Metz Handball (FRA)
Saturday 26 March, 18:00 CET, live on EHFTV

  • Dortmund are on a five-game losing streak — their second-worst in the history of the EHF Champions League Women
  • Metz secured more points on away courts — 10 — than at home this season. They won nine matches in the group phase and lost four
  • among the teams that progressed to the knockout phase of the premium European competition, Dortmund have conceded the highest number of goals, 399, or an average of 28.5 per game in the group phase
  • the French side won the last nine matches against German opponents in the Champions League
  • Metz have made the quarter-finals of the EHF Champions League Women five straight seasons now
  • the winner of the double-header will go directly to the EHF FINAL4 in June, as Rostov-Don, the quarter-final opponent for the winner of this tie, were eliminated from the competition

Odense Håndbold (DEN) vs Brest Bretagne Handball (FRA)
Sunday 27 March, 16:00 CEST, live on EHFTV

  • Brest, last season’s runners-up, aim to progress to the quarter-finals of the EHF Champions League Women for the third consecutive season
  • only two sides — Krim and Dortmund — clinched fewer points in away games this season than Brest’s five, as the French side had significant trouble on away courts
  • the French champions have not lost against Danish opponents in their last eight games in the premium European competition, with the most recent loss coming against Odense in January 2019
  • Odense’s longest winning streak this season was a two-game run against Krim Mercator and CSKA, as the Danish champions alternated victories and losses throughout the season
  • if they lose against Odense, Brest would become only the second EHF Champions League Women finalists to not make the quarter-finals in the next season, after Vardar in 2018/19
  • Odense will miss one of their top scorers this season, 29-year-old left back Lois Abbingh, who is pregnant and will not play until 2023
20211114 Odense Vipers Odense1
I know that the whole team and also me personally have been waiting for these types of games now for a while — when a win or loss decides if you are in or out for the rest of the season. Brest are an internationally good team with a lot of really good players, but we also see our possibilities in these games and we are going to go for the chance to get that quarter-final spot. I just want it to be Sunday so all the fun can start.
Martina Thörn
Odense goalkeeer

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