Rhein-Neckar Lowen vs. Vardar Skopje / Handball Champions League – This is one of the most interesting matches in this round, given that Lowen is in third and Vardar in fifth place, but with only one-point difference. Both teams have already secured a place in the knockout phase, but they are now fighting for a better position, perhaps even the first, which is not unattainable. Before the break, Lowen experienced an unpleasant and convincing defeat at Pick Szeged, while Vardar after three consecutive defeats, managed to celebrate at home against Kolding. The “Lions” have lost a great Bundesliga derby against Kiel, but they are still holding the top spot in the table, and Vardar in the regional SEHA league. In the first this season’s duel, Vardar as completely outplayed Lowen with 25:19, and they also met last season, and Vardar celebrated on both occasions. Begins: 11.02.2016. – 19:30 CET
This team is about the have a very demanding second half of the season in which they want to do a better job in the Champions League, and that means at least the quarterfinals, if not the final four, while they are defending the first place in the championship and their goal is to finally win that championship title that was slipping away for years. They were excellent in Bundesliga in the first part of the season and they were only twice defeated, however, the problem is that they were mastered by Kiel away two rounds before the break games and now have just two points advantage, so each new mistake can mean the loss of the first place that they are holding virtually from the start of the season.
In the Champions League the results are changeable and there were some even serious setbacks, including the one in Skopje by Vardar. Otherwise they are playing a lot weaker away, while at home this season, they have not lost the game and only Kielce managed to win points against Mannheim. However, now the situation is very unpleasant because of injury and both wings are out of action, Gensheimer and Groetzki, who did not play for the national team at the European Championship, while the Swede Du Rietz is recovered.
Probable lineups Lowen: Appelgren, Sigurmannsson, Du Rietz, Schmid, Petersson, Steinhauser, Pekeler
Vardar also has big ambitions this season and they might be even greater in the Champions League than that of their rivals. This team has already in previous years shown that they can cope with the best and their main goal is the final tournament of four teams. They have not so far in the group stage played according to their ambitions and they were already defeated four times, one of which even at home, where they usually very rarely lose points. Barcelona was the one that defeated them so we cannot say that this is too much of a shame, but there were also some other rivals that they defeated in Skopje very convincingly, including Lowen.
They have only two identical victories away against objectively weaker rivals and so they are coming to this duel prepared and careful. According to the tradition, it suits them how the leader of Bundesliga plays, but Vardar has its problems because the middle back Karacic is out of action. They have a lot of tired players from the European Championship in Poland, but it did not bother them to master Nexe in one combined lineup in the regional SEHA league, where they have already confirmed their spot in the final tournament.
Probable lineups Vardar: Sterbik, Dibirov, Gorbok, Cindric, Dushebajev, Brumen, Toskic
Rhein-Neckar Lowen vs. Vardar Skopje PICK
Lowen does not lose points easily at home this season and that is why they are favourites in this match, however, Vardar is not a good opponent for them, and there are also problems with injuries in the home team, so we anticipate that the guests will provide a good resistance and make this match uncertain at least.
Pick: Vardar +3.5
Odds: 1.78 at betvictor (down to 1.68 can be played)