TTCLM Quarter-finals: Who will gain advantage?
First quarter-final leg to be held from Wednesday to Friday, January 24-26th: UMMC – Borussia, Roskilde – Fakel Gazprom, Sporting – Stella Sport la Romagne, Ochsenhausen – Saarbrucken
First quarter-final games of the 2017/18 Table Tennis Champions League Men will be held from Wednesday to Friday, January 24-26th, gathering three German clubs, two from Russia, while France, Denmark and Portugal are represented by one each.
Record holder with 10 TTCLM titles and actual no. 2 seed Borussia Dusseldorf travels to Russian city of Verkhnaya Pyshma to face 2012 runner-up UMMC. Both sides left group stage with a 5-1 win-loss record. Host team head coach Tatiana KUTERGINA looks forward to meeting the most successful TTCLM club ever:
“Alexander SHIBAEV, Andrej GACINA arrived the night before, as well as the Borussia team. Because of the time difference, the players hardly slept yesterday, so at the morning practice it was difficult to assess their physical shape. It seemed to me that Andrej GACINA looked fresh. I think the reason here is that on January 20, his wife gave birth to a son. Andrej was very worried about her and for the child, right now the excitement is behind, everything went well, besides, he was training hard and lost some weight. Maharu YOSHIMURA arrived late at night yesterday and is going to join the training with the team tonight. I am sure that until tomorrow all players will be in good physical form and the match will be interesting”.
Borussia`s coach Danny HEISTER reminded that his side had unexpectedly hard begining of the season (3:2 home loss vs. Hennebont), but managed to recover and finish on the top of Group D…
"We struggled at the beginning in the TTCLM, but all other games in group stage went well. We cannot afford any mistake now. UMMC has a good and well balanced team in all positions. It's going to be a tough job for us. “
Borussia tops the table of Bundesliga, in spite of losing latest game against Fulda (3:2). That`s why Dusseldorf`s best player Timo BOLL warns his teammates:
“Our game in Fulda showed that 80 percent are not enough to win against good teams. And I appreciate UMMC even more. We all need to be in the right shape. I think it will be a very close game”.
The lower-seeded TTCLM team Roskilde Bordtennis hosts the no. 1 seed and current champion Fakel Gazprom Orenburg. Danish club had 3-3 win-loss record in Group D, while Russian side finished first in Group A with 5-1.
“There are no weak opponents in the TTCL quarter-finals. Our team is preparing very seriously for the upcoming match. All players are in good shape and in positive mood. The first leg is expected to be very tense for both teams. There are very strong players, including Michael MAZE”, stated Orenburg`s team manager Victor ANDREEV.
Two TTCLM newcomers will fight for the semi-final berth: Sporting Clube De Portugal (4-2 in the group stage) vs. Stella Sport La Romagne (5-1). French club aims TTCLM semi-final just one season after biggest achievement in their history – 2016/17 ETTU Cup Men title – but coach Fabrice COUTOLLEAU stressed that they will play without pressure:
“At the beginning of the season, our goal was to reach the quarterfinals. Now the result is only a bonus and will allow us to play without pressure. Everything is possible on a return leg and we will do everything to join the semi finals”.
The 2009 TTCLM runner-up and 2012 semi-finalist are the opponents in the all-German quarter-finals. Ochsenhausen beat Saarbrucken 3:0 away in the Bundesliga Round 5, but all three encounters were close. They will meet in two important clashes in February within just three days: first, in the returning TTCLM quarter-final leg (Feb 9), then in the domestic league Round 14 (Feb 11) which could decide playoff berth (Saarbrucken is second placed with 8-4, Ochsenhausen is fifth with 7-5).
“I think it will be a close match. We won the Cup match two weeks ago but we lost the league match so it is hard to say which team is the favorite for Friday. But I think we are all in good shape so we have a lot of confidence for the match in Ochsenhausen and we try to give ourselves a good position for the home match in February”, explained Saarbrucken`s player Patrick FRANZISKA.
2017/18 TTCLM Quarter-finals, first leg
TTSC UMMC - Borussia Düsseldorf (Jan 24, 14:00)
Roskilde Bordtennis BTK61 - TTC Fakel Gazprom (Jan 24, 19:00)
Sporting Clube De Portugal - Stella Sport La Romagne (Jan 25, 19:00)
TTF Liebherr Ochsenhausen - FC Saarbrücken Tischtennis (Jan 26, 19:30)