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On Demand Video: Link
Hamburg vs. Berlin Friday, 23 Aug 2013, 1900 CET (1300 U.S. East Coast)
The first leg ended in a 30-30 draw. On line betting sides have Hamburg as a 2 goal favorite for the 2nd leg.
(Note: As always, I will replace the live video link with the “on demand” video link when it becomes available. Additionally, we will not post the score on the Team Handball News website for those interested in watching the match without knowing the result.)
All too often in European club handball the early season is rife with matches of limited importance. The upcoming IHF Super Globe which is a somewhat manufactured event is but one example. But, this season the Champions League has a Wild Card playoff showdown between Berlin and Hamburg that is truly pivotal. Both clubs are in the top 10 of Europe, both clubs have legitimate Champions League title aspirations and….
one of those clubs will be eliminated from the competition before the month of August is even over.
Instead of top shelf Champions League matches throughout the season, pivotal knockout matches next spring and a good shot at the Final Four, the loser will instead settle for the less prestigious EHF Cup.
Why are two great sides meeting so early you might ask? Call it the Liverpool Rule. Back in 2005 the Liverpool Football club won the UEFA Champions League, but finished to low in the English Premiership to qualify for the 2006 Champions League. That’s right. UEFA was in the situation of having the defending champions not even in the tournament. Not wanting this to happen the rules were bent a little and Liverpool was allowed to play its way into the tournament through qualification matches. Similarly, Hamburg won the EHF Champions League last year, but finished 5th in the German Bundesliga (HBL). Normally, the top 3 German sides automatically qualify and the 4th German side plays its way in through a qualification tournament. Hamburg, in fact, did that last year and even had to beat France’s Saint Raphael in overtime to make it into the main tournament.
I’m not sure if the EHF bent the rules or not, but it was determined that the fair way to resolve the situation this time around was to let last year’s fourth place team in the HBL, Berlin take on the 5th place team, Hamburg in a two game aggregate series.
Last night Berlin hosted the first match which ended in a 30-30 draw. The match apparently was not without drama as Hamburg stormed to an early 12-6 lead, only to see Berlin go on a 6-0 run to tie it back at 12 all. Towards the end of the match Berlin had a two goal lead, but let it slip to a 30-30 draw. Berlin, may well miss those last two goals as this makes tomorrow’s 2nd match in Hamburg essential a one match, winner take all affair. (In the event of another draw, away goals is the tiebreaker).
Here are some links from the EHF website with more information to get you up to speed