12 Oct. 2021
The best club teams in European beach handball returned to the sand near Palermo, Sicily, from 7 to 10 October to fight for the first EHF Beach Handball Champions Cup in two years.
Fifteen men’s teams and 12 women’s teams took part in the competition held in Isola delle Femmine, near Palermo, with Spanish and Portuguese teams dominating both the men’s and women’s tournaments, as both finals featured clashes between teams from the two Iberian countries.
In the men’s competition, CBMP Ciudad de Malaga secured their second trophy in the EHF Beach Handball Champions Cup, while the women’s competition was won by Portuguese side GRD Leça – Love Tiles.
Malaga seal second-ever trophy
With the 15 teams representing five nations in the men’s competition divided into three groups of five, there was little room for mistake, as the four best teams from each group advanced to the quarter-finals.
Favourites CBMP Ciudad de Malaga were drawn into Group A and conceded a loss against Portuguese side Escola de Formação de Espinho - Os Tigres, who won in three sets, 2:1.
This did not deter Malaga, who finished second in the group and faced Polish side BHT Petra Plock, who won all their four matches in Group C, in the quarter-finals.
A win in straight sets, 24:18 and 18:14, was followed by a crunch game against Hungarian side HIR-SAT BHC, but Malaga stayed calm and secured a 2:1 win (21:22, 26:12, 9:6) to progress to the final.
However, the biggest surprise came from Portuguese side V. Gaw, who lost two games in the group phase, but still finished second in Group B.
The Portuguese side sealed their win in the quarter-finals against German side BHC Sand Devils, 2:1 (28:18, 20:22, 6:4) and progressed to the top four sides in the competition, where they won the all-Portuguese duel against Escola de Formação de Espinho - Os Tigres, 2:1 (20:18, 17:22, 7:6).
The first Portuguese team to reach the final, V. Gaw, gave Malaga a strong challenge in the ultimate game, but as Jaime Benito and Roman Rueda combined for 35 points, the Spanish side were too strong and won in straight sets, 2:0 (24:20, 29:18).
The bronze-medal game was won by HIR-SAT BHC, who secured a 2:0 win against Escola de Formação de Espinho - Os Tigres.
German Leon Prussner, from BHC Sand Devils, was the top scorer of the tournament, with 142 points, followed by Hungarian Adam Fekete, with 123 points, and Dutch player Thomas Robben, with 107 points.
Historic first for Portuguese team
The all-Iberian finals continued with the women’s tournament, where GRD Leça – Love tiles became the first Portuguese side to clinch the EHF Beach Handball Champions Cup trophy, after a hard-fought final against Spanish side GEA A.M. Team Almeria.
The 12 teams taking part in the women’s tournament were divided into two groups of six teams, with the four best sides progressing to the quarter-finals.
In Group A, GRD Leça – Love Tiles secured first place, despite conceding a loss against the reigning champions, Almeria, while Group B was won by Hungarian side LV Sport Multichem Szentendrei NKE, the only team to go undefeated in the first five matches.
All four winners from the quarter-finals, GRD Leça – Love Tiles, GEA A.M. Team Almeria, LV Sport Multichem Szentendrei NKE and Minga Turtles, won in straight sets, setting up crunch clashes in the semi-finals.
The previously undefeated Hungarian team was downed by Almeria in the semi-finals, 2:1 (24:25, 28:20, 7:2), while GRD Leça – Love Tiles won against the German side Minga Turtles in straight sets (23:22, 19:18).
It was the second final berth sealed by Leça, after losing against Szentendrei in 2018, but they avenged that defeat with a straightforward win against Almeria, the team against which they lost in the group phase.
Sara Pinho and Beatriz Correia combined for 37 points, as Leça secured a 2:0 win against Almeria (24:18, 24:18), never dropping a set in the knock-out phase on their way to the trophy.
Minga Turtles’ Paula Reips was the top scorer in the tournament, with 133 points, followed by Leca’s Sara Pinho, with 118 points, and Hungary’s Luca Vajda with 103 points.
Minga Turtles won the bronze-medal game against LV Sport Multichem Szentendrei NKE, 2:1.
Photo: Uros Hocevar / kolektiff