201219 EHF Draws 2
EHF Champions League

Four of last five winners meet in EHF Champions League Men group phase

With the start of the EHF Champions League Men 2021/22 season now just over two months away, the 16 teams fighting for Europe’s biggest prize learned their opponents for the season’s group phase when the draw was held in Vienna on Friday morning — and fans can expect plenty of drama in the opening stage of the season.

Defending and record Champions League winners Barça — one of the four top seeded clubs from pot 1 — will start their first season without long-time coach Xavi Pascual in group B. Their trophy match rivals Aalborg Håndbold, who were finalists for the first time in 2020/21, were drawn into group A.

Two other top-seeded teams from pot 1, Hungarian side MOL-Pick Szeged and 2019/20 title winners THW Kiel, were drawn into group A alongside Aalborg. Not only does group A feature the 2019/20 winners, but the two victors from the previous seasons: HC Vardar 1961 — winners in 2018/19 and 2016/17, and Montpellier HB, who raised the trophy in 2017/18.

Aiming to end a long wait to claim the trophy for the first time, EHF FINAL4 2021 participants Paris Saint-Germain Handball will begin their 10th campaign in the top flight in group B.

Rounding out group B are 22-time Portuguese champions FC Porto; Champions League 2015/16 winners Kielce; 2013/14 winners SG Flensburg-Handewitt; Hungarian powerhouse Telekom Veszprém HC; Romanian champions C.S. Dinamo Bucuresti — back for their eighth campaign after a one-season absence from the top flight; and nine-time consecutive Ukrainian champions HC Motor.

The draw procedure was conducted by EHF President Michael Wiederer and EHF Chief Sport Officer Markus Glaser.

12 teams to progress

The playing system for 2021/22 — the 29th edition of the EHF Champions League Men — will be the same as that of the previous season. Matches will be played on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

The group phase is played in a round-robin format. Following the 14 rounds of the group phase, the two top-ranked teams in each group will qualify directly for the quarter-finals and those placed from third to sixth on their respective table will proceed to the play-offs. The two lowest-ranked clubs on each table will be eliminated at the end of the group phase.

The teams participating in the group phase were approved by the EHF Executive Committee earlier in the week. Country protection was applied for the draw.

Group phase schedule

The group phase shall be played in accordance with the schedule set out below, which is a guideline only. The first matches will be played on 15–16 September. 

The EHF has the right to adapt this schedule in each group individually based on appropriate input and reason by any of the stakeholders. All final decisions lie with the EHF.

Round 1: 5 vs 2 and 6 vs 1 and 7 vs 4 and 8 vs 3
Round 2: 1 vs 7 and 2 vs 8 and 3 vs 5 and 4 vs 6
Round 3: 5 vs 1 and 6 vs 2 and 7 vs 3 and 8 vs 4
Round 4: 1 vs 8 and 2 vs 7 and 3 vs 6 and 4 vs 5
Round 5: 2 vs 1 and 4 vs 3 and 6 vs 5 and 8 vs 7
Round 6: 1 vs 4 and 3 vs 2 and 5 vs 8 and 7 vs 6
Round 7: 1 vs 3 and 4 vs 2 and 5 vs 7 and 8 vs 6
Round 8: 3 vs 1 and 2 vs 4 and 7 vs 5 and 6 vs 8
Round 9: 4 vs 1 and 2 vs 3 and 8 vs 5 and 6 vs 7
Round 10: 1 vs 2 and 3 vs 4 and 5 vs 6 and 7 vs 8
Round 11: 8 vs 1 and 7 vs 2 and 6 vs 3 and 5 vs 4
Round 12: 1 vs 5 and 2 vs 6 and 3 vs 7 and 4 vs 8
Round 13: 7 vs 1 and 8 vs 2 and 5 vs 3 and 6 vs 4
Round 14: 2 vs 5 and 1 vs 6 and 4 vs 7 and 3 vs 8

Unprecedented digital engagement in 2020/21

The EHF Champions League digital platforms reached new heights in 2020/21, with now almost 750,000 followers across all channels, while 60 million views on video content and 11 million interactions were recorded throughout the season.

The overall reach for this season increased by 50 per cent for a total of 400 million, with 200 million of that on participating clubs and stakeholders’ own channels.

“It goes without saying that we are looking forward to next season with the goal of building on this success in 2021/22,” said EHF Marketing Managing Director David Szlezak.

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