20221024

Tuesday night fever returns as group phase throws off

EHF / Danijela Vekić, Adrian Costeiu, Kevin Domas, Björn Pazen

After qualification was completed earlier this month, the EHF European League Men 2022/23 is ready for its group phase. The 10-round schedule starts on Tuesday with 12 matches across the four groups.

Last year’s winners, SL Benfica, start defending their title on a trip to Slovakia to play against Tatran Presov. Their dress rehearsal didn’t go according to plan as they lost two their matches at the IHF Men’s Super Globe.

SG Flensburg-Handewitt return to the second-tier European competition after more than a decade in the EHF Champions League. Another German side, former EHF Cup winners Füchse Berlin, will play an away game in Germany, as HC Motor play their home games in Düsseldorf.

Two sides – Skanderborg-Aarhus (at Eurofarm Pelister) and Aguas Santas Milaneza (at Bidasoa Irun) – maje their debut in a European competition group phase.

GROUP A

Frisch Auf Göppingen (GER) vs Fejer B.A.L.-Veszprém (HUN)
Tuesday 25 October, 18:45 CEST, live on EHFTV

  • former EHF Cup winners Göppingen start in their ninth European season, Veszprém in their third
  • Göppingen qualified for the group phase by defeating fellow German club Lemgo in the second qualifying round (59:57 on aggregate)
  • Veszprém’s qualification for the group phase was a major surprise, as the Hungarian side beat Chambéry 31:25 in the return leg of round 2 after losing by four in the first leg
  • only one Veszprém player is not Hungarian: Slovakian line player Simon Machac
  • both teams lost in their domestic leagues last week, and both against a team also playing in the EL: Göppingen against Flensburg (27:24); Veszprém against FTC (40:23)

Kadetten Schaffhausen (SWI) vs Montpellier HB (FRA)
Tuesday 25 October, 20:45 CEST, live on EHFTV

  • Kadetten were directly seeded in the group phase, while Montpellier had to go through one qualification round
  • the French team defeated IK Sävehof, winning by four on aggregate after drawing in the first leg in Sweden
  • the two sides played four times against each other; most recently in the 2020/21 season, when Montpellier qualified for the European League quarter-finals (59:52 on aggregate)
  • Kadetten coach Adalsteinn Eyjolfsson: “To succeed against Montpellier – a world class team – everything has to be perfect. Montpellier have top players in every position, have a long-time coach, and are a very experienced team.”
  • last weekend, Montpellier took the points in Ivry in the French league (34:30); Kadetten also won, in Aarau (29:22)

Tatran Presov (SVK) vs SL Benfica (POR)
Tuesday 25 October, 20:45 CEST, live on EHFTV

  • last season, Benfica won the title, but Presov did not advance from the group phase
  • Presov and Benfica were both directly seeded in the group phase; this will be their first direct encounter
  • last week, Benfica finished only seventh at the IHF Super Globe
  • Presov grabbed their fifth win in eight games against Strakonice (45:23) in the Slovakian league
20221024 ELM R1 Preview Quote Benfica
In life, we often make mistakes if we underestimate someone. I believe that we won’t make those mistakes and will fight with everybody at our best. Last year we showed the world that even being the outsiders, we manages to win this competition.
Petar Djordjic
SL Benfica left back

GROUP B

Ystads IF (SWE) vs PAUC Handball (FRA)
Tuesday 25 October, 20:45 CEST, live on EHFTV

  • both sides were directly qualified to the group phase
  • with former CL winner Kim Andersson in their roster, Ystad are back in a European group phase for the first time since the 2015/16 season, when they featured in the EHF Cup
  • this is the third appearance for PAUC in the group phase of the second-tier European competition in the last four seasons, but they never progressed to the knock-out phase
  • after winning the title in Sweden in a huge shock last season, Ystad have had a disappointing start this time and lost four of their first seven games
  • PAUC have secured mixed results in the start of their domestic league, winning four games and losing two, and being on the sixth place

SG Flensburg-Handewitt (GER) vs TM Benidorm (ESP)
Tuesday 25 October, 20:45 CEST, live on EHFTV

  • Flensburg return to the second-tier European competition for the first time since the 2009/10 season, when they made the semi-finals
  • the German side secured the largest aggregate win in qualification round 2, clinching a 76:49 win against Polish side MMTS Kwidzyn
  • Benidorm qualified for the group phase of a European competition for the first time by taking a 64:58 aggregate win against GC Amicitia Zürich
  • Benidorm head coach Fernando Latorre: “We are going to try as much as possible to be competitive, above all to learn and enjoy a beautiful historical match and see if we can match their game.”
  • Flensburg centre back Jim Gottfridsson, MVP of EHF EURO 2018 and 2022, is out for several weeks with a calf injury
  • Flensburg are one of five teams in the group phase that have previously won the second-tier European competition

Valur (ISL) vs FTC (HUN)
Tuesday 25 October, 20:45 CEST, live on EHFTV

  • FTC will make their debut in the group phase of a European competition, as this is only their second European season
  • the Hungarian side eliminated two Romanian teams, Minaur Baia Mare (74:49 on aggregate) and CSA Steaua Bucuresti (66:64) to progress to the group phase
  • FTC head coach István Pásztor (head coach): "Our opponents like to play a similar style to what I want to adopt, so I am expecting a very high number of attacks. I wonder how we will perform, since we have never met such a fast, rushing team. It will definitely be a good experience."
  • Valur play a group phase for the first time since the 2007/08 season, when they featured in the EHF Champions League
  • the hosts have an interesting mix in their roster of players Icelandic internationals, like goalkeeper Björgvin Páll Gústavsson, and young players
  • qualified directly to the group phase, Valur have only featured in their domestic league so far this season, leading the standings after six wins and one defeat

GROUP C

Balatonfüredi KSE (HUN) vs Fraikin BM. Granollers (ESP)
Tuesday 25 October, 17:00 CEST, live on EHFTV

  • this match will officially open the group phase, as it is the only one starting at 17:00 CEST
  • Balatonfüred finished third in the Hungarian league last season; they had failed to qualify for the EL two times before, in 2020/21 (against HK Malmö) and in 2021/22 (RK Trimo Trebnje)
  • Balatonfüred head coach László György: “The group phase is a huge challenge for us. We will do everything that it takes to perform at our best tomorrow and also at the following matches in order to achieve the best possible position.”
  • Granollers qualified directly to the group phase after finishing second in Spain, behind Barça
  • Granollers won two EHF Cups in 1994/95 and 1995/96, now are returning to the second-tier competition after four years
  • The teams previously met EHF Cup 2017/18 qualification, when Granollers won twice: 27:26 and 28:21

Skjern Handbold (DEN) vs RK Nexe (CRO)
Tuesday 25 October, 18:45 CEST, live on EHFTV

  • Skjern is back in the group phase of a European competition after four years
  • Nexe head into their 14th consecutive European season; qualified after overcoming six-goal deficit against KS Azoty Pulawy
  • Nexe coach Bank Tamše: “Skjern are a typical Scandinavian team, playing the same handball for all 60 minutes and they enjoy that game. We have to play smart, make as few mistakes as possible and not lose balls.”
  • The two teams have never met in European competitions; however, they did play a friendly game back in 2010, which Skjern won 32:30
  • Skjern head coach Henrik Kronborg: "It means everything to us to be back in the group phase and hopefully we can start the European journey with a win tomorrow. It will be difficult, but with our fans behind us, it is possible."
  • Nexe, last season EHF Finals contenders, defeated Rudar 36:19 in the Croatian championship; Skjern celebrated against Nordsjælland 26:24

Sporting CP (POR) vs Alpla HC Hard (AUT)
Tuesday 25 October, 20:45 CEST, live on EHFTV

  • for two season in a row, Sporting were eliminated in the Last 16
  • Hard are debutants in this competition; the Austrian team was runners-up of the EHF Challenge Cup 2007/08
  • Hard are one of the thee teams in group phase that advanced from qualification round 1; they eliminated two Macedonian teams
  • Sporting head coach Ricardo Costa: "We are looking forward to start this group phase and make our fans proud of the team. We know we are going to face a very tough opponent: they are the actual leaders of the Austrian league and have not been defeated this season, including the European matches."
  • Sporting beat Hard 35:14 when the teams met in qualification for the CL 2017/18 season
  • Both teams won their domestic games last week: Sporting against Avanca (33:26), Hard against defending champions Krems (26:24)
20221024 ELM R1 Preview Quote Hard
We are going to enjoy this journey and to give all that we have to present our club in a positive way on this big stage. With our defence and goalkeeper we have a chance against everyone, everywhere.
Hannes Jón Jónsson
Alpla Hard HC head coach

GROUP D

HC Motor (UKR) vs Füchse Berlin (GER)
Tuesday 25 October, 18:45 CEST (in Düsseldorf/GER), live on EHFTV

  • having played CL every season since 2013/14, Motor now make their debut in the EL
  • Motor have temporarily relocated to Düsseldorf and play in Germany’s second division, where they won one of eight matches so far
  • both sides were directly seeded for the group phase
  • Berlin have to replace their top signing Mathias Gidsel for the next three months due to a hand injury
  • Berlin were eliminated in the German cup by Flensburg last week, but rank second in the Bundesliga

HC Eurofarm Pelister (MKD) vs Skanderborg-Aarhus (DEN)
Tuesday 25 October, 20:45 CEST, live on EHFTV

  • 2021 founded club Skanderborg-Aarhus are European cup debutants, and beat former Swedish champions Kristianstad twice in qualification round 2
  • Pelister qualified for the Last 16 in the last two seasons and were seeded directly for the group phase this time
  • the Bitola-based team underwent many chances, including the arrival of coach Lars-Hendrik Walther
  • Walther: “After 10 days without six national team players, our rhythm is a bit disturbed, so we are working today and tomorrow to fix it. Already today it looks better and our goal on Tuesday is victory.”
  • last season’s top scorer Stipe Mandalinic went to Athens, while Pelister signed several players from the French league
  • Skanderborg-Aargus team captain Morten Balling: “Pelister have a strong team, lots of support from their fans, and we hope for an intense atmosphere in the arena. There is no doubt we will have to play our very best to win the game.”
  • Skanderborg-Aarhus are currently ranked eighth in the Danish league, but won their last two matches against Lemvig and Mors-Thy

Bidasoa Irun (ESP) vs Aguas Santas Milaneza (POR)
Tuesday 25 October 20:45 CEST, live on EHFTV

  • Aguas Santas are in a European group phase for the first time; last year they lost in qualification to a Spanish team, La Rioja
  • the Portuguese side came through two qualification rounds this time, eliminating Cocks in round 1 and domestic rivals Belenenses in round 2
  • Aguas Santas left back Gustavo Oliveira: "We expect a difficult game, but we work daily to have a happy debut in the EHF European League. We aim to be a competitive team and we want to show that from the first game by bringing home the victory.”
  • Bidasoa Irun were the only team advancing to the group phase after winning a shootout – against Norwegian side Kolstad
  • Irun were CL winners in 1995 and CWC winners in 1997; last season they made it to the Last 16 of the EL but lost against GOG
  • in the Spanish league, Irun are seventh after a 39:33 defeat against La Rioja; Aguas Santas are fourth in the Portuguese league

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