In the past week we have experienced an entertaining encounter between HSV Hamburg and Fuchse Berlin for the access to the Champions League group stages. Last season winner Hamburg finished fifth in the German league while Berlin placed one step ahead. With four places available for the German teams, Hamburg would have been out was it not for a German rule making them eligible to play in a play-off game against Berlin. The first leg was played in Berlin on Wednesday where the home team lead for all but the last 3 seconds of the game when Hamburg managed to strike an important 30-30 draw. On the return leg in Hamburg, Fuchse were once more the better team leading till the last minute. After drawing the game, Hamburg managed to win 27-26 with Adrian Pfahl’s last shot. Hamburg will now be placed in group D with Aalborg, Valenje, Flensburg, La Rioja and the winner of the game between Esch and Halmstaad.
It is hard to predict the winner of this edition but I think that Barcellona and Kiel will definitely reach the final 4. Both teams have a vast experience in this competition and Barcellona have been strengthened by the arrivals of Karabatic, Saubich and Lazarov. I see Vesprem as a serious contender after being strengthened by the arrivals of Momir Ilic and Carlos Ruesga. German duo Hamburg and Flensburg will fight for the last place of the final 4 in my books but one must pay attention for an unexpected surprise of heavy investors PSG.