Five things to remember from the overture
After a six-month break, the EHF Champions League Men has officially returned to action on Wednesday and Thursday.
In the competition’s new midweek slots, we saw five teams playing away from home and coming back victorious, while HC Meshkov Brest and SG Flensburg-Handewitt were the only host teams to take a win on home court.
Here are five talking points after round 1:
1. Sander Sagosen shines in debut for Kiel
The Norwegian wunderkind’s signing with THW Kiel made the headlines this summer, but, after celebrating his 25th birthday earlier this week, the former PSG player had to deliver in his first official game with THW.
And he did deliver in the Match of the Week against Zagreb, finding the bottom of the net on his first action, setting the tone for the rest of the evening.
Sagosen ended up scoring seven goals and being elected Player of the Match.
It was not all that easy though, as the Zagreb’s defence is known to be fierce and uneasy to get through, but Sagosen’s quality allowed him to shine in the first MOTW of the 2020/21 season.
It seems like the Norwegian player has settled well in his new environment already.
2. Rodrigo Corrales’ successful return to France
The Spanish goalkeeper may have left France and Paris Saint-Germain just a couple of months, he still feels at home when he travels to that country. Proof are his 17 saves in Nantes on Wednesday night for his new club Veszprém, which grabbed the two points.
Valero Rivera, Kiril Lazarov or Eduardo Gurbindo, all the EHF Champions League regulars from HBC Nantes could not get past Corrales, who impressed with a 50% efficiency rate after the break.
After excelling in the EHF Champions League with Wisla Plock and Paris, it seems like Rodrigo Corrales, a double EHF EURO winner with Spain, is walking the same path with Veszprém.
3. Dejan Manaskov’s behind-the-back brilliance
In a team studded with stars like Veszprem it is easy to forget about Dejan Manaskov. The Macedonian left wing would be a superstar in any other team, but in Hungary the faces the competition of Petar Nenadic and Andreas Nilsson.
In Nantes, on Wednesday, he did everything to be remembered, including this incredible behind-the-back goal in the heart of the second half.
4. Kiel, never without their fans
THW Kiel, just like SG Flensburg-Handewitt this week, will have to play without spectators in round 2. Well, there might not be any actual fans in the stands, but the THW die-hards still have the opportunity to have their face in the Sparkassen Arena.
All they have to do is send a picture of themselves, cheering and wearing the Kiel outfit, and the club will put them onto cardboards printings in the stands and create a ‘White Wall’ of fans.
We are looking forward to seeing that next week against Nantes!
5. Barça finally win their opening game again
You have to go back as far as 2016 in the competition stats to find a Barça victory on the opening day of new season.
But finally, after four years, Barça started their new campaign with a win on Thursday, when the Spanish side beat Motor 30:25 in Zaporozhye.
Aleix Gomez shone and scored 10 goals, while Haniel Langaro netted four times in his first EHF Champions League match after a three-years absence.
For Xavi Pascual and his men, the next step will be the reception of RK Celje Pivovarna Lasko next week.
And while we are looking at the statistics, Barça have not lost their second game in an EHF Champions League campaign since 2009… But if that will be a good omen?