The Champions League quarterfinal matches will be played this weekend and next. The winners of the two game (aggregate goals) contests will advance to the Final Four in Cologne, Germany in May.
The marquee pairing is without a doubt Copenhagen taking on defending champion, Barcelona. Some might complain that it’s a shame that one of these teams will be bounced out prior to the final four, but don’t count me in that group as we will likely see two great matches instead of one. On top of that Copenhagen has decided to stage its leg Friday night at the Parken football stadium. The atmosphere should be electric for this event and the oddsmakers have the first match as a pick-em.
As a side point, for our readers who don’t follow handball closely, it’s interesting to note that the Copenhagen club (at least at this high level) is a fairly recent creation. Unlike the U.S., where new franchises are awarded to investors, European clubs with ambitions can simply work their way up through the ranks. And over a 3 year period AG Copenhagen advanced to the Danish first division, adding stars and increasing payroll to the point where they’ve become the undisputed top side in Denmark.
The other pairing worth watching will be the Leon – Berlin matchup. Whoever wins between these two will be the underdog outsider at the Final Four. These sides appear to be pretty evenly matched and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if the winner isn’t decided until the final seconds. After all, both know how to win with a little drama as they both celebrated tight victories on aggregate differential on their opponent’s home court. Leon is a 2 goal favorite.
Alas, the final two matchups appear to be mismatches as it would be a major surprise for Koper or Zagreb to knock off either Madrid or Kiel. Both sides are underdogs on their home court in the first match and even should they eke out a win in the first leg they’ll have to follow up that with another surprise the following weekend in less friendly confines. Still, you never know, but I suggest you watch these matches with anticipation that you might be doing a little bit of fast forwarding.
EHF Quarterfinal previews article: http://www.ehfcl.com/men/2011-12/article/14825/Eight+final+steps+to+Cologne
ehfTV Schedule with Live video links: http://www.ehftv.com/schedule
Note: The EHF has been pretty good lately about posting the on-demand video for the matches a few hours after the game. The hyperlinks below are best guesses as to what those links will be. Feel free to go directly to the ehfTV website, but beware the extraneous material that will show you the final outcome before you watch.
Copenhagen vs. Barcelona
Leon vs. Berlin
Koper vs. Madrid
Zagreb vs. Kiel