GROUP C/D PREVIEW: Following a taster from each group in midweek, the rest of round 1’s matches provide plenty to look forward to with old champions back in the mix and a Scandinavian derby

Scandinavian derby the highlight of group C/D weekend action

Groups C and D of the VELUX EHF Champions League got off to an early start with matches in midweek and the quality on show provided a fine hint as to what is to come this weekend as eight more teams begin their European season.

HC Eurofarm Rabotnik make their bow at this level, while 1995 champions Bidasoa Irun are back in the fray for the first time in over two decades.

There are a number of sides who have set their sights on big things this season, but with only 10 rounds in these groups, there is little room for error, a fact which looms large in Sunday’s Scandinavian derby between IFK Kristianstad and GOG.

GROUP C
Tatran Presov (SVK) vs Bidasoa Irun (ESP)
Saturday 14 September, 18:00 local time, live on ehfTV.com

  • having missed out on the group C/D elimination matches on goal difference last season, Presov will hope a win on Saturday will kickstart a better campaign this year
  • 1995 champions Bidasoa Irun, who return to the competition for the first time since losing the following final in 1996
  • Presov were involved in two incredibly tight SEHA league games so far, losing 25:24 to Zaporozhye and winning by the same margin against Nexe last weekend
  • Bidasoa enjoyed a winning start to their Asobal campaign, before pushing Barça in a 26:23 defeat on Wednesday

HC Eurofarm Rabotnik (MKD) vs Sporting CP (POR)
Sunday 15 September, 17:00 local time, live on ehfTV.com

  • HC Eurofarm Rabotnik are complete newcomers to this level, having snatched the second Macedonian spot from Metalurg’s grasp last season
  • having given eventual finalists Veszprém a run for their money in last season’s Last 16, Sporting CP will fancy their chances of emulating that success and progressing from the group, but matches like this will test how ready they are
  • the hosts from Bitola have played just one competitive match so far this season, beating Spartak Moscow 34:29 in the SEHA league last week
  • Thierry Anti has enjoyed a bright start to his time in Lisbon, leading his side to four wins from four in the league

GROUP D
Chekhovskie Medvedi (RUS) vs Orlen Wisla Plock (POL)
Saturday 14 September, 16.00 local time, live on ehfTV.com

  • Chekhovskie Medvedi are in the VELUX EHF Champions League group phase for the 15th time in a row, while Orlen Wisla Plock enter the competition for the seventh time in succession.
  • Chekhov reached the first VELUX EHF FINAL4 in the 2009/10 season, finishing third, as their finest Champions League achievement so far, while five Last 16 berths in history are Wisla Plock´s best results until now
  • both teams have had flawless starts to their national leagues, both winning their first three matches

IFK Kristianstad (SWE) vs GOG (DEN)
Sunday 15 September, 17.00 local time, live on ehfTV.com

  • IFK Kristianstad are in the VELUX EHF Champions League group phase for the fourth time in a row, but in groups C/D for the first time
  • GOG are celebrating their comeback to the competition after 10 years of absence
  • two GOG players, Norwegian right back Stig Tore Moen Nilsen and Icelandic line player Arnar Freyr Arnarsson Kristianstad players last season
  • Kristianstad have won their first three matches in the Swedish league this season, while GOG took their first win of the season on Wednesday night, winning 29:23 away against Mors Thy Handbold.

TEXT: Chris O’Reilly, Peter Bruun