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1 month ago - 3/19/2019

Can Löwen end their curse?

It is knockout time in the VELUX EHF Champions League: The 20 upcoming matches in Last 16 (12) and quarter-final (eight) stages will determine the four participants in the 10th edition of the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in Cologne (1-2 June).

The final steps on the way to Cologne start in Germany, where Rhein-Neckar Löwen have their first-leg match against HBC Nantes on Wednesday. Löwen are out to end the curse that has seen them eliminated in the Last 16 four consecutive times, while Nantes hope to repeat their feat from last season and make it all the way to Cologne. 

The hosts of Wednesday’s clash finished the group phase in fifth position, while Nantes ranked fourth. The winners of this duel will face Barça Lassa, who skipped the Last 16 as group winners, in the quarter-final. 

LAST 16, FIRST LEG
Rhein-Neckar Löwen (GER) vs HBC Nantes (FRA)
Wednesday 20 March, 19:00 local time, live on ehfTV.com

  • Beginning in 2014/15, Löwen have failed four straight times in the Last 16 since – against Szeged, Zagreb, Kiel and Kielce

  • The only mutual VELUX EHF Champions League duels ended in draws, both in the group phase of the previous season

  • Löwen’s only win against Nantes provided them with the first title in the history of the club: In 2013, the Lions won the final of the EHF Cup, beating hosts Nantes 26:24 

  • For Nantes, it is the third Last 16 participation in as many Champions League seasons

  • Löwen have made it to the quarter-finals four times so far; Nantes reached that stage once – and proceeded all the way to the final

  • Both clubs count one participation at the VELUX EHF FINAL4: Löwen in 2011, when they finished fourth; Nantes in 2018, when they lost the final to Montpellier

  • Both sides are currently ranked third in their domestic leagues. Löwen are eight points below Flensburg, while Nantes are five points behind PSG

  • Nantes’ back and the best young player in the Champions League 2017/18 Romain Lagarde will transfer to Löwen in 2020

  • Löwen have won five of seven home matches in the group phase. Nantes only took one away victory in seven matches

Author: Björn Pazen / cg