For the MT Melsungen, the fifth matchday of the DKB Handball Bundesliga represented the end of what Germans call an "English week" — three matches in 7 days — that began with a loss to the Rhein-Neckar Löwen and a victory against Gummersbach. Wednesday now brings an encounter with table topper SG Flensburg-Handewitt, who haven't ceded a single point so far this season. Throw-off at Flens-Arena, where tickets are still available, is slated for 7 pm. Radio HNA and Sport1 will broadcast the match live.
"Some of the weight has come off our shoulders for this trip to Flensburg", says MT coach Michael Roth after a well-deserved 32-28 home win against Gummersbach. After three straight losses to start the season, that match brought the first points on the table for his team. And against the previously undefeated former champion no less.
The MT showed clearly through passionate play and stalwart defence that it hasn't forgotten how to win. Keeper Svetislav Verkic (Käsler photo) in particular put on a show with a number of brilliant saves. On offence, the pair of wingers Sellin / Allendorf proved effective pincers, scoring 7 and 10 goals respectively. Another big plus: Marino Maric celebrated a tremendous comeback on the pivot and on defence after four months of injury. The 26 year old played as if he'd never been away, converting his three chances brilliantly and generally strengthening the spine of the defence. "Johan Sjöstrand will be back by Göppingen at latest, and hopefully Gabor Langhans as well. Then we'll finally be back to full strength", Roth says, looking forward with confidence.
This applies to some degree toward the away match in Flensburg: "In our win against Gummersbach we showed that our fighting spirit is back, and with it our self-confidence. We'll need plenty of that on Wednesday as well. With all that said, we're going up against an absolute elite team that has shown almost no weaknesses to date".
The team coached by Ljubomir Vranjes has made as clear as it can that it's goals are title or bust. Last year's runners up started with two easy wins over Erlangen and Hannover, then ground out a close home victory against Magdeburg followed by a minor whipping of title holders Rhein-Neckar Löwen in their own arena. From their point of view, the next pair of points will come this Wednesday against the MT. Yet Flensburg remembers all too well last year, where the visiting boys in red-and-white eked out a 33-32 upset over the hosts. Club General Manager Dierk Schmäschke warns sharply: "Melsungen is a highly ambitious team and we'll need to maintain absolute focus to get by them".
The squad is well stocked from bottom to top in expectation of deep runs on both the national and international stages, but several stars nevertheless stand out: Keeper Mattias Andersson, playmakers Thomas Mogensen (13 goals) and Kentin Mahé (18/5), right wing Lasse Svan (18), left wing Anders Eggert (16/5), right back Holger Glandorf, left back Petar Djordjic (13) and pivot Henrik Toft Hansen (13). Tobias Karlsson must also be mentioned as one of the world's best defensive specialists.
Referees in Flensburg:
Lars Geipel (Leipzig) / Marcus Helbig (Landsberg); DHB Observer: Jörg Mahlich.
Previous Bundesliga duels:
22 matches , with 18 wins by SG, 1 win for MT, 3 ties;
last season: MT - SG 25-32 (11/5/16), SG - MT 32-33 (12/9/2015).
The match will be called live by Patrick Schuhmacher on Radio HNA and can also be seen on Sport1.
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