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EHF Champions League

Back with a bang

Adrian Costeiu / Sergey Nikolaev

With 132 matches scheduled this season, 24 more than in the previous format, the DELO EHF Champions League looks set to offer adrenaline, high intensity battles and, to put it simply, a show.

The new format throws off this weekend with eight gripping games, as Hungarian powerhouse Györi Audi ETO KC travel to debutants CSKA, while another side in their maiden campaign, BV Borussia 09 Dortmund, will play their first match in the premium European competition at Odense.

Other highlights include Rostov’s trip to FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria and CSM Bucuresti hosting Metz.

FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria (HUN) vs Rostov-Don (RUS)
Saturday 12 September, 16:00 CEST, live on EHFTV

  • Rostov started the season in superb form, winning both the Russian Cup, 29:26, and the Russian Super Cup, 27:20, against rivals CSKA
  • the Hungarian side changed their approach this season, ushering in three new German players – backs Alicia Stolle and Emily Bölk and line player Julia Behnke, who will make their European debut for FTC against Rostov
  • the Russian powerhouse lost coach Ambros Martin, who left by mutual consent this summer and was replaced with Per Johansson. The Swedish coach will not be able to lead his team in the game against FTC
  • Rostov hold a clear advantage in mutual games, winning eight times from 10 matches against FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria, including the last six
  • the Russian side will miss goalkeeper Mayssa Pessoa, who suffered a torn ACL in August and faces a six-month absence from the court

RK Krim Mercator (SLO) vs Vipers Kristiansand (NOR)
Saturday 12 September, 18:00 CEST, live on EHFTV

  • 29-year-old right back Nora Mørk will play her first ever European game for Vipers, returning to Norway after four years abroad with Györ and CSM Bucuresti
  • Vipers are the second most experienced team in the competition, with an average age of 28.1 years in their roster, while Krim are the second youngest squad in the competition, with an average of 22.9 years
  • Krim have not progressed to the quarter-finals of the competition since the 2012/13 season
  • the sides have met four times in the premium European competition, with Vipers taking three wins

SG BBM Bietigheim (GER) vs Team Esbjerg (DEN)
Sunday 13 September, 14:00 CEST, live on EHFTV

  • Esbjerg will have to make do without two key players in their back line: centre back Estavana Polman suffered a knee injury, while right back Line Jørgensen is pregnant
  • the Danish side started with four consecutive wins in the domestic league, but lost their Last 16 Danish Cup tie against NFH
  • Markus Gaugisch will make his European debut as coach for Bietigheim after replacing Martin Albertsen, who ended a six-year stint with the German side
  • the teams have met only twice in European competitions: Esbjerg took two wins against the German club in January 2019 in the group phase of the Women’s EHF Cup

CSM Bucuresti (ROU) vs Metz Handball (FRA)
Sunday 13 September, 16:00 CEST, live on EHFTV

  • the Romanian side lost both the Romanian Cup and the Romanian Super Cup last Sunday, after a 22:19 loss against SCM Ramnicu Valcea
  • Metz had a strong start to the season, taking a 37:22 win against Nice in the French domestic league
  • the French side had a busy summer on the transfer market, losing five key players, but also making two shrewd signings: centre back Tjasa Stanko from Podravka and right wing Debbie Bont from København
  • French left wing Siraba Dembele will make her European debut for CSM against a French team
  • Metz won four of the mutual six games between the two sides, but CSM’s two wins came on home court, including a 32:27 win last season in the main round

CSKA (RUS) vs Györi Audi ETO KC (HUN)
Saturday 12 September, 16:00 CEST, live on EHFTV

  • founded in 2019, CSKA will play their debut match in a European club competition
  • the Moscow-based side top the Russian league with eight points after four matches
  • Györ also have a perfect record in the Hungarian league, with four points after two games
  • Györ’s match with Bekescsaba, scheduled for Tuesday, was not played due to a suspected (but not confirmed) Covid-19 case at Bekescsaba
  • the Hungarian team cannot rely on left wing Szidonia Puhalak, who is injured

Brest Bretagne Handball (FRA) vs SCM Ramnicu Valcea (ROU)
Saturday 12 September, 18:00 CEST, live on EHFTV

  • Brest start their fourth season in the continental top flight, while for Valcea, it will be the 15th season in the competition
  • last season, the teams met in the group matches of the DELO EHF Champions League, with Brest winning both times, 37:24 and 26:23
  • on Wednesday, Brest played an opening match in the French league, winning 32:18 at Merignac
  • Valcea won the Romanian Cup last Sunday, defeating CSM Bucuresti 22:19
  • Valcea’s German left back Ewgenija Minevskaja will return to her former home, as she spent the previous season with Brest

Odense Håndbold (DEN) vs BV Borussia 09 Dortmund (GER)
Saturday 12 September, 16:00 CEST, live on EHFTV

  • Dortmund will play their first match in the DELO EHF Champions League
  • Odense return to the competition after a one-year break
  • on Tuesday, Odense beat Kobenhavn in the Danish league (26:19) and are fifth-placed with six points after four games
  • in the German league, Dortmund have four points after two games, as they comfortably defeated Oldenburg on Wednesday, 35:17
  • the match will feature a number of Dutch players, as Dortmund have as many as eight of them in the roster, and Odense have three

HC Podravka Vegeta (CRO) vs Buducnost (MNE)
Sunday 13 September, 16:00 CEST, live on EHFTV

  • for both teams, the derby will be the first competitive match in the new season, as their national competitions have not started yet
  • in the DELO EHF Champions League, the teams met most recently in 2014/15, when Buducnost won both group matches, 32:26 and 32:27
  • Podravka start their 23rd season in the European top flight, while for Buducnost, this is a jubilee 25th season
  • Buducnost will travel to Croatia without 10 players who are recovering from Covid-19, while Valeriia Maslova is sidelined due to a shoulder injury
  • under these circumstances, the Montenegrin side will rely on six youth players, and also on the club president Radmila Petrovic, who finished her career in 2016 but is ready to make a comeback

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