22 Jul. 2020
The upcoming club season in Europe will see a revamped structure for the continental competitions organised by the European Handball Federation (EHF), with the top-tier EHF Champions League to be played under a new format, while the second-tier competition, the EHF Cup, has been replaced with the EHF European League.
The men’s and women’s European Leagues will see two rounds of qualification preceding a group phase competition followed by the final stages. Some teams are qualified directly for the group phase.
The European League titles will be decided in a final four format, with the semi-finals and finals to be played over one weekend – just like the culmination of the Champions League season and the previous format of the Men’s EHF Cup.
One difference between the men’s and women’s European Leagues will be the number of teams competing. In the men’s competition, 24 teams will contest the group phase, while 16 will play the women’s. The men’s competition will therefore feature a Last 16 stage prior to the quarter-finals; the women’s will move straight from the group phase to the quarter-finals.
Part of the competition reshuffle also sees a reconsideration of match times. The men’s Champions League and European League games will take place during the week while the women’s matches in those competitions will be played on weekends.
In addition to these changes, the third-tier Challenge Cup has become the European Cup. The European Cup will be played entirely in knock-out stages, with 32 teams competing for places in the Last 16, followed by the quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals, all played on a home-and-away basis. The European Cup games will take place on weekends.
Teams directly qualified for European League group phase
On Monday, the EHF revealed the 12 top-seeded men’s teams set to contest the first edition of the European League, as well as the four top-seeded women’s clubs. In both the men’s and women’s competitions, three former Champions League-winning teams will be featured in the 2020/21 season, alongside a number of other sides with international club title-winning records.
The teams directly seeded for the group phase in the first season of the men’s European League are: ABANCA Ademar Leon (Spain), USAM Nimes Gard (France), SC Magdeburg (Germany), Grundfos Tatabanya KC (Hungary), HC Eurofarm Pelister (North Macedonia), Orlen Wisla Plock (Poland), Dinamo Bucuresti (Romania), Chekhovskie Medvedi (Russia), Kadetten Schaffhausen (Switzerland), Tatran Presov (Slovakia), Alingsas HK (Sweden) and Besiktas Aygaz (Turkey).
These 12 teams will be joined by the 12 sides that reach the group phase from the qualification rounds, which are set to be played in August and September. The likes of two-time Champions League winners Montpellier HB and two-time IHF Super Globe winners Füchse Berlin are among those vying for the group phase places from the qualification stages.
In the women’s European League, the teams directly seeded for the group phase are: Herning-Ikast Handbold (Denmark), Siofok KC (Hungary), CS Minaur Baia Mare (Romania) and Handball Club Lada (Russia). The remaining 12 clubs to play the group phase will progress through the qualification rounds.
The draw to determine the European League play-off schedule is set to take place at the EHF headquarters in Vienna on Tuesday, 28 July. The first qualification rounds are scheduled for October, with the women’s competition to open first, on the 10th and 11th. The men’s will begin one week later.
More information on the European League and the EHF competitions can be found on the official website.
Photo: European Handball Federation