Big shake up in first power ranking of 2022
Do you think that having a EHF EURO winner among your ranks can change the face of a team? Perhaps players who played a lot in January might feel a little tired returning to their club, or can it, on the other hand, give their teammates an extra boost of energy?
We selected the ten teams looking in the best shape ahead of the return of Europe’s elite club competition this week. Let us know if you agree.
10. Elverum Handball
Having players winning international titles among your ranks can be a good thing. But could it be a positive thing to have almost all your squad at training for a month to get ready for the end of the season? That is exactly what happened to Elverum, as only a handful of players were in Hungary and Slovakia in January. Expect a well-oiled collective play against Kiel in Lillehammer on Thursday.
9. Pick Szeged
Szeged are still in the race for the first two spots in group A, but they cannot afford to waste time now. The Hungarian side stand just two points behind group leader Montpellier, with a group final between the two sides on the horizon in the final round. The Hungarian core of the Szeged team will have to overcome their EHF EURO disappointment and how they will manage to do it will define the rest of the season for their side.
8. Paris Saint-Germain Handball
One bronze medal and two silvers was the haul for the Paris Saint-Germain players at EHF EURO 2022. This is the first since 2016 that a PSG player has not won a gold medal at an international championship. After beating Kielce and drawing with Barça right before Christmas, the French side will have to retain that momentum to finish among the top two sides in group B.
7. THW Kiel
While the group phase enters its last phase, THW Kiel have a lot at stake. Montpellier come to town in round 12, while THW will play in front of a bumper crowd in Lillehammer against Elverum on Thursday. For Filip Jicha and his boys, this is the time to deliver, but they will have to step up compared to what they showed before the winter break.
Seven Barça players were part of the EHF EURO 2022 final weekend, spread across two sides, Spain and France, and none of them managed to reach the title. The tiredness will sure be present for the first Barça game in Bucharest on Thursday but these players have enough experience to bounce back quickly.
5. Lomza Vive Kielce
While Kielce players did not particularly shine at the EHF EURO 2022, the good news is that captain Alex Dujshebaev was able to rest his shoulder in the past few weeks. That could be prove to be very important as group B is incredibly tight. With trips to Flensburg and Veszprém on the menu, the Polish side will have to play their best to remain on top.
4. Telekom Veszprém HC
Can Veszprem ride the handball wave that EHF EURO 2022 created in Hungary last month? Epitok would surely appreciate some extra support as the battle for the top spots is at its toughest in group B. While the Hungarian side are tied with Barça and Paris and behind Kielce, they seem to have the toughest schedule of all, playing their three direct opponents in the final three rounds of the group phase.
3. Aalborg Håndbold
If Sweden’s win at the EHF EURO 2022 was quite a surprise, seeing Aalborg among the best teams in the EHF Champions League is one as well. Nobody expected them to be tied with Szeged and ahead of Kiel with four games left to play. With European champions Felix Claar and Lukas Sandell among their ranks, the Danish side can hope for an extra boost to finish the group phase in style.
2. SG Flensburg-Handewitt
Yes, Flensburg might have had an underwhelming first part of the season and may also miss some players at the restart due to injuries. But having EHF EURO 2022 MVP Jim Gottfridsson among your ranks has to help you step up a gear. Alongside his teammate Hampus Wanne, the Swedish playmaker claimed a brilliant gold medal in Budapest and if they can pick up on that form, Flensburg may end up delivering the goods in 2022.
1. Montpellier HB
French side Montpellier also saw two of its players win gold at the EHF EURO - Karl Wallinius and Lucas Pellas. But the pair did not spend too much time on the court in Slovakia and Hungary, meaning that they are still fresh ahead of the restart. While Montpellier are struggling in the national league, they seem unstoppable in Europe, having lost only one of their first ten games. The last four rounds see them face tricky away trips to Kiel and Szeged and hosting Aalborg, but the chances are that they can emerge from the storm unharmed.