PPD Zagreb vs. Rhein-Neckar Lowen / Handball Champions League – Duel between Croatian and German “Lions” in a much better situation, are welcoming the German team because they are in a series of three victories, of which two in Bundesliga. In the same period, Zagreb lost three matches in the Champions League, and it is interesting that Zagreb is now has only one triumph in the Champions League against Vardar, the team that last defeated Lowen at home. Lowen fought back in the last round in Skopje, while Zagreb lost both times to Kielce. In the first this season, Lowen celebrated at home in a dramatic finale against Zagreb with 25:24. When it comes to their mutual duels in previous season, they played a draw in Zagreb, while Lowen celebrated three times, with the proviso that Zagreb won the quarter-finals last season thanks to a victory in Mannheim. Begins: 01.12.2016. – 19:00 CET
It is evident that the team of Zagreb since the arrival of new coach Ivandi has significantly improved their game and they are playing much better than before, but this got them just one win and this was against the group’s leader Vardar at home. After that, they played three more games against the favoured rivals and showed a good resistance in all these matches, but they lost all three matches. They were the closest to making a surprise against Lowen away, where they had the last attack for a draw and did not use it, although they showed character in this duel and returned to the match after a noticeable backlog.
This was followed by two games against the reigning champion of Europe Kielce and both were very similar, because Zagreb was constantly out there, but failed to make that extra step so they lost at home with 26:23, and with 29:25 as guests and it is interesting that they had the lead at half-time in both matches with 12:11. Both duels were led by Mandalinic, while the young middle Jotic played great at both duels, with the experienced Vori. They are weakened by the absence of Susnja, Pavlovic, Sprem and Markovic. Now they hope that they can at home compete with the German champion and maybe even get to some point.
Probable lineups PPD Zagreb: Stevanovic, Markovic, Mandalinic, Jotic, Sebetic, Horvat, Vori
The German champion has joined the trend of playing unpredictable recently as most of the favourites and so they first celebrated surprisingly away against the reigning champion of Europe, Kielce, after which they struggled with Zagreb at home. That was followed by the first home defeat in the Champions League and it was pretty convincing from Vardar, and then they totally unexpectedly responded in Skopje and defeated the same opponent in the last round with a 29:26. There are not a lot of teams that can boast with a triumph in Skopje, and the “Lions” have reached that triumph without the effect of some otherwise standard players such as Du Rietz, Petersson and Groetzki, while the second goalkeeper Palicki and left wing Mansaku were not in the team in that match.
Between two matches against Vardar, they made a safe championship victory. They first easily mastered Fuchse Berlin in a derby with 30:25, while they were convincing in the last round against Minden with 33:23. Palicki and Mansaku were not in hat match and especially big problem is that the second goalkeeper was out of action. Despite all that they are still the favourites in the match against Zagreb, especially since they are now back in the race for first place in the group.
Probable lineups Rhein-Neckar Lowen: Appelgren, Sigurdsson, Du Rietz, Schmid, Petersson, Groetzki, Pekeler
PPD Zagreb vs. Rhein-Neckar Lowen PICK
Zagreb is playing really well lately and no one can completely master them, but they are somehow lacking that certain something to celebrated in the end in majority of cases. Lowen has almost lost against Zagreb at home and we believe that they will be taken more seriously now and win again, even if minimal.
Pick: R. N Lowen wins
Odds: 1.60 at bet365 (down to 1.55 can be played)