Emotional farewell to 2017
Before entering its nine-week sleep mode, the VELUX EHF Champions League produced many hot topics in its final round of the year 2017. So let's take a look at the main talking points from Round 10.
And there is only one way to start our overview - Abanca Ademar Leon. The Spanish side stuck together after receiving tragic news right before one of the most important games of their season.
A win that meant the world to Leon
Leon took the step to reach the play-offs from Group C. But their 30:25 victory in a must-win match at Elverum Handball, which guaranteed them the second place in the group, was overshadowed by dreadful news from within the club.
During a stopover at Amsterdam on their way to Norway, players and officials learned of the passing of long-standing team manager, José Ludena, at the age of 53. After the match, coach and players expressed their feelings, how they wanted more than ever to win and grab that play-off spot.
This one was for you, José.
Minuto de silencio en memoria de Ludena pic.twitter.com/GyzcAJMmTS— //Abanca Ademar León (@ADEMARLEON) December 3, 2017
Saracevic quickly found the rhythm in Zagreb
It took HC PPD Zagreb 10 rounds to finally win their first match in the competition this season, upsetting Rhein-Neckar Löwen (30:26).
But it took new Zagreb coach Zlatko Saracevic only two matches to find the right mixture within the team. The Croatian side are still in the battle for a place to go further in the competition.
Meanwhile, the Mannheim Lions are without a win in their last four games and have now slipped down to fourth place in Group A.
Wisla Plock add to Pick Szeged’s worries
Not only Zagreb won their first match in Group A during this round, Polish side Wisla Plock did the same. They took two points back home from Hungary after beating MOL-Pick Szeged 25:24.
The Hungarian side have been in trouble over the last few weeks and the victory against Barcelona in Round 8 was their only win in their last five home games.
Wisla Plock, however, had every reason to celebrate after having waited a long time.
Kiel won the battle of Northern Germany
It was derby time for the 95th time but it is always exciting when the two German powerhouses are up against each other and, once more, THW Kiel had the upper hand against SG Flensburg-Handewitt (33:30).
It sure was a different clash from their earlier Group B encounter in Round 5, a deadlock 20:20 tie.
Now Flensburg are two points behind PSG before they meet in the next round, while Kiel have silenced any voices about a crisis and have improved their chances to progress to the Last 16.
And Andreas Wolff chose the right time to be once again on top of his game for Kiel.
Five in a row for Nantes
And finally, there seems to be no stopping HBC Nantes after their fifth win in a row in Group A, this time beating FC Barcelona Lassa in the Match of the Week (29:25).
Barcelona have only won one of their last four games and find themselves six points behind top side HC Vardar. Nantes, however, are in second place and seem to be the main team that could challenge the Macedonian side.
Barcelona head coach Xavi Pascual said after the game that his side have a lot of work to do to improve, and he expressed his delight that the next Champions League game will not be before February, following the January break which includes the EHF EURO 2018 in Croatia.Author: Andri Yrkill Valsson / ew