EHF European League Women group phase finally begins

Everything is ready for the EHF European League Women group phase, which begins this Saturday (7 January 2023). After two rounds of qualification and 37 teams competing to be among 16 clubs of the group phase, the start of 2023 brings us second-tier action across Europe.

Former champion Neptunes de Nantes, EHF Finals 2022 participants Ikast Handbold, 2021 runners-up Siófok KC, former EHF Champions League contenders HC Podravka Vegeta and BV Borussia 09 Dortmund, plus debutantes Fana, are all ready to take on their first matches on the European stage.


BV Borussia 09 Dortmund (GER) vs Molde Elite (NOR)
Sunday 08 January, 14:00 CET, live on EHFTV

  • the last time the German side played in Europe's second-tier was in the 2018/19 EHF Cup season. This is their first EHF European League season after playing the Champions League for the last two seasons
  • Dortmund qualified for the group phase by beating ZRK Zeleznicar-Indjija 74:37 in aggregate in qualification round 3
  • Molde Elite were seeded for the group phase after finishing fourth in Norway in the 2021/22 season; this is their first time playing in the group phase after being eliminated for two straight seasons in qualification round 3
  • the Norwegian side has been part of the home top division since 2015; one of their most experienced players is team captain Sherin Obaidli and her younger sister Mona also plays for the team
  • Dortmund enter the European League with 11 new players and new coach Henk Groener
  • Centre back Frida Rønning said: "I'm looking forward to playing against Molde, it’s been a while since I played against a Norwegian team. Molde is a team with a lot of good players, and they play extremely well together. It will be a fun and hard game, so we have to be 100 per cent focused."

ES Besancon Feminin (FRA) vs Siófok KC (HUN)
Sunday 08 January, 18:00 CET, live on EHFTV

  • in their second European League season Besancon qualified for the group stage by beating Super Amara Bera Bera 59:53 in aggregate
  • the French club will try to repeat last season's success by reaching the quarter-finals. Sébastien Mizoule's team did not change much and bring a good balance of youth and experience
  • Siófok are back in the competition after finishing runners-up in the first EHF Finals Women edition in 2021, and winning the EHF Cup in 2019
  • the Hungarian side started their European journey in qualification round 2 eliminating MKS FunFloor Lublin, going on to beat beating CS Magura Cisnadie in round 3; they are one of four teams that made it from the first qualification round
  • six new players joined Siófok, and now the team of 19 players have a base of 13 Hungarian players
20220105 ELW Round 1 Preview Nantes


Ikast Handbold (DEN) vs Neptunes de Nantes (FRA)
Sunday 08 January, 14:00 CET, live on EHFTV

  • Ikast are back in the competition after two straight EHF Finals appearances; they are one of only three clubs that have been part of all three group phases since the beginning of the European League
  • ahead of the start of the 2022/23 season, the club changed its name from Herning-Ikast Håndbold to Ikast Handbold
  • 2020/21 champions Nantes enter their third European League season after eliminating VfL Oldenburg by 69:51 in aggregate
  • the French side failed to repeat their maiden success last year and were eliminated from the competition after finishing third in group B
  • both teams are coming from victories in their respective domestic leagues – Nantes defeated Dijon 28:24, and Ikas beat Ringkøbing 30:20

Motherson Mosonmagyarovari KC (HUN) vs Fana (NOR)
Sunday 08 January, 16:00 CET, live on EHFTV

  • Mosonmagyarovari are ready for their second straight season in the group phase; they narrowly qualified after beating SCM Gloria Buzau by 52:51 in aggregate thanks to their home three-goal win
  • the Hungarian club’s captain Eszter Tóth is one of the most experienced players in the squad and was also the team's top scorer in the 2021/22 season with 35 goals
  • Norwegian side Fana are the only debutantes in the competition, having their maiden international breakthrough
  • Fana secured their spot in the qualification stage after finishing fifth in Norway; for a group phase spot they beat SPONO Eagles and Buxtehuder SV without a sweat
  • the Hungarian side had a week of preparation for the match, while Fana were defeated by Vipers 20:36 in the domestic championship
20230104 ELW Countdown NFH 2


DVSC Schaeffler (HUN) vs Nykøbing Falster Håndbold (DEN)
Saturday 07 January, 20:00 CET, live on EHFTV

  • DVSC Schaeffler returned to the international stage as they finished third in the domestic league; they failed to qualify for the group stage for two seasons straight
  • Schaeffler's squad is a good mixture of youth and experience, led by team captain Dóra Hornyák
  • Nykøbing are set to play their first European League group phase after eliminating Viborg HK and Yalikavaksport Club in qualification
  • the Danish side previously reached the EHF Cup semi-finals in 2016/17, and played the EHF Champions League a year later
  • while they are waiting for their new arena to be built, Nykøbing will play in Arena Næstved around 60km north of their home town
  • Nykøbing lost 28:32 at home to København Håndbold, and Schaeffler still wait for their first game of 2023

Sola HK (NOR) vs Podravka Vegeta (CRO)
Sunday 08 January, 18:00 CET, live on EHFTV

  • in their European League breakthrough in the 2021/22 season, Sola reached the quarter-finals after finishing first in group A
  • the Norwegian club secured their second straight group phase spot by beating Rocasa Gran Canaria in qualification round 3 by 66:57 in aggregate
  • Podravka had an exciting two games in a battle for the group phase – they eliminated MKS Zaglebie Lubin after a penalty shoot-out in qualification round 3
  • the Koprivnica-based team enter the European League with new head coach Željko Babic, who has his first stint in women's handball
  • Sola played last season's group phase against another Croatian club, HC Lokomotiva Zagreb, who now compete in the EHF Champions League Women
20220105 ELW Round 1 Preview Sola (1)
We can't wait to finally get started in this season's European League on Sunday. In the group we meet three teams which are going to give us tough matches. We know we have to be 100 per cent on in every game to be able to move forward.
Kristina Novak
Back, Sola HK


Thüringer HC (GER) vs Paris 92 (FRA)
Saturday 07 January, 16:00 CET, live on EHFTV

  • in the 2020/21 season, Thüringer were part of the inaugural European League group phase and failed to qualify a season later after being stopped by Molde
  • the German side have a much-changed squad compared to last season, with 10 players joining and 13 leaving the club; in comparison, Paris 92 had five players coming and eight leaving the club
  • Herbert Müller's team started their road in the first qualification round and successfully eliminated Chambray Touraine Handball and IK Sävehof
  • just like their opponents, Paris 92 are also back to the group phase after a year of hiatus. They were seeded directly after finishing third in the French league in 2021/22
  • Paris’s best European results were reaching the final of the Cup Winners’ Cup and the Challenge Cup
  • while Thüringer had an easy win at home against Union Halle-Neustadt (38:25), Paris 92 were defeated 29:30 by Metz ahead of the start of the European League

SCM Ramnicu Valcea (ROU) vs Praktiker-Vác (HUN)
Sunday 08 January, 14:00 CET, live on EHFTV

  • both sides had somewhat easy qualification matches; Ramnicu Valcea defeated H65 Höörs HK by a 15-goal difference in aggregate, while Vác had a 13-goal difference against LC Brühl Handball
  • the Romanian side is in the group phase of the competition for the second consecutive season. Last season they made it to the quarter-finals where they were stopped by Ikast
  • Vác head into their third straight group phase appearance; both previous times they finished bottom of their group
  • head coach Gábor Herbert recently joined the Hungarian side and he is ready to lead a team consisting of mostly young domestic talents
  • this will be the third encounter between the teams, they played against each other in the 2021/22 European League group D with the Romanian side being victorious both times

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