EHF Champions Cup 2021 gets underway in Italy
Almeria open women's title defence with two wins
Five women's teams enjoy a perfect record of two victories in as many games following the opening day of the EHF Beach Handball Champions Cup in Isola delle Femmine north-western Sicily, Italy.
Among them are women's title-holders, GEA AM Team Almeria from Spain. In the rematch of the 2019 final, they defeated Italy's Blue Team 2-0 (14:10, 19:13), following their morning victory over German side CAIPIranhas (20:15, 19:12).
In the same group A, GRD Leca - Love Tiles (POR) and Hadsten Beach Handball (DEN) also made a big step towards the quarter-final, opening the tournaments with two wins. With the four best teams from each group progressing through to the quarter-finals, the remaining three sides with zero points, including Blue Team, still have a chance to go through.
In group B, only two clubs won both their matches on Thursday. One of them, 2018 champions LV Sport Multichem Szentendrei NKE from Hungary, claimed the biggest victory of the day against the German side Beach Unicorns 2-0 (21:12, 21:6) several hours after claiming a win against Portugal's Escola de Formação de Espinho - Os Tigres.
Minga Turtles from Germany also have a good chance to reach the next stage thanks to a German derby shootout victory over Beach Unicorns and then overpowering British side London GD, 2-0 (18:10, 24:12).
Malaga show ambitions
In the men's tournament, Spanish team CBMP Ciudad de Malaga showed their ambitions on the opening day, defeating Beachmopeten (GER) 2-0 and Blue Team (ITA), via shootout. 2019 winners and fellow Spanish side BM Playa Sevilla are not defending their title.
In group B, the Hungarian outfit HIR-SAT BHC also won two matches on Thursday, first in a shootout against Portugal's V. Gaw, and then much more comfortably against British rivals London Beach Handball, 2-0 (21:18, 30:10).
And in group C, it is BHC Sand Devils who now seem to have the best chance for a quarter-final spot. The German side opened the competition with a shootout win against Portugal's Cincomaisum A.C. before having an easier time against Fervas BHC (HUN), winning 2-0 (26:12, 14:13) a few hours later.
Crucial games on Friday
The remaining group matches on Friday will determine all 16 quarter-finalists, eight in each competition. In the women's tournament, the four best teams in each group will go through, while in the men's competition, the two top teams in each group plus the two best third-place finishers will reach the next stage. All other sides will try their luck in the consolation round.