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EHF European League

Sporting dreaming of going far in European League

EHF / Tiago Nogueira

Last season, Sporting CP reached the Last 16 of the EHF European League, where they ended up being eliminated by SC Magdeburg (runner-up) by just one goal over two legs, just like in 2020/21 against Wisla Plock. The Portuguese team will do everything to reverse this trend.

One thing is guaranteed, the Lions do not lack individual quality in their team. Players such as Francisco Costa, Martim Costa, Natán Suárez and Salvador Salvador promise to give opponents a lot of headaches.

Main facts

  • qualified for the EHF European League group phase by beating Danish side Bjerringbro-Silkeborg in the qualification phase (61:55)
  • Sporting CP are led by coach, Ricardo Costa, and his sons Martim and Francisco feature in the team
  • the Portuguese club has a mixture of experience and youth, with an average age of 25.8 years old in the squad, book-ended by Francisco Costa (17) and Carlos Ruesga (37)
  • Sporting CP secured the Portuguese Cup last season by beating FC Porto in extra-time and finished second in the domestic league
  • the biggest signing this season is Leo Maciel, Barça's goalkeeper last season
  • other big summer signings include Patryk Walczak and Etienne Mocquais

Most important question: Can Sporting CP improve on last season?

The lions have proved they can go a long way in this European competition. After two seasons losing in the Last 16 by one goal, ambition and motivation are high.

Sporting CP are in Group C with CB Granollers, Skjern, Balatonfüredi, RK Nexe and the Austrian team Alpla HC. "We have good opponents, but we are confident in our capacities," coach Ricardo Costa said, then added that "going to the next phase is the main objective."

Costa is ambitious. "We want to go as far as possible and as far as possible is to play the final tournament," he said.

In turn, team captain Salvador Salvador is very motivated and highlights the importance of leaving everything on the field.

“This EHF European League has great teams and there's some contenders but the team who fights the most and who wants it the most is the team who'll win,” he said. "We will enter every game to win, and we will try to go as far as possible in the competition."

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Under the spotlight: Francisco Costa

At 17, Francisco Costa has unbelievable talent. He has already confessed that he is a true handball lover, he wakes up every day eager to train and with a combination of talent and a strong mentality, he has become a super player, a player that has no fear of taking risks during the game, whatever the situation.

Therefore, Costa is a very versatile player, with power, technique, and great vision. Last season, he shone in the EHF European League and we would suggest following this athlete closely.

How they rate themselves

There are no doubts about the high ambitions of Sporting CP. They are not just happy competing in the EHF European League, the lions aim higher than that and they want to move on to the next phase and then improve on previous seasons.

“Playing in Europe and more specifically in the EHF European League makes us have more games with teams of our level, a good opportunity to continue to grow individually and collectively,” Ricardo Costa said. “Playing only domestic competitions is not enough and that's why our move to the group stage is one of the most important moments of this season.

“We have the same motivation as always. We will start every game to win and with our squad we’re capable of doing that,” Salvador said. “We will face every game like it was our last.”

Did you know?

Head coach Ricardo Costa was a leading player, and he is father of Martim and Francisco Costa, two Portuguese stars who have developed well at Sporting CP.

What the numbers say

Eight - the number of players under 24 years in the squad, a fact that demonstrates the relevance of youth to a team with plenty of talented players.

Arrivals and departures

Arrivals: Patryk Walczak (RK Vardar), Etienne Mocquais (Tremblay), Leo Maciel (FC Barcelona), Edney Silva (EC Pinheiros)

Departures: Matevz Skok (Gorenje Velenje), Yassine Belkaied (RK Celje), Erekle Arsenashvili (Puente Genil)

Team captain: Salvador Salvador

Coach: Ricardo Costa

Past achievements

National champion: 21 (1952, 1956; 1961; 1966, 1967, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1984, 1986, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2017, 2018)

National cup winner: 16 (1972, 1973, 1975, 1981, 1983, 1988, 1989, 1998, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2022)

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