09 Mar. 2022
From the 24 teams that entered the group phase of the 2021/22 season of the EHF European League Men, the second-tier European club competition, only 16 earned safe passage to the Last 16 phase.
6,976 goals were scored in the 120 games played throughout the group phase, as three German sides, three French sides, two Portuguese teams and one team from Croatia, Denmark, North Macedonia, Poland, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland each progress to the next phase of the competition.
Only one team finished the group phase undefeated – German team SC Magdeburg, who are boasting an impressive season, with only one loss in all the competitions they played in.
The reigning IHF Men’s Super Globe champions, a title secured in October 2021, recorded nine wins and a single draw in a well-balanced group. The German powerhouse hit the 19-point mark, seven points ahead of Swedish team IK Sävehof. Croatian outfit RK Nexe (10 points) and Slovenian side RK Gorenje Velenje (nine points) clinched the remaining Last 16 berths in Group C.
The most balanced contest in this phase of the competition was Group D, where the final standings were decided in the last round. A win would have seen HC Eurofarm Pelister challenge for the second place, while a loss against AEK Athens HC might have thrown the North Macedonian side out of the competition.
Dominating the game and clinching a 30:19 win was enough for Pelister to seal second place in the group, after Portuguese side Sporting CP took a 32:30 win against USAM Nîmes Gard in the last match. However, Nîmes still claimed first place thanks to their two wins against Pelister this season, while AEK Athens HC and Grundfos Tatabanya HC were eliminated.
The teams topping the table in the group phase: GOG, SC Magdeburg, Orlen Wisla Plock and USAM Nîmes Gard
Kadetten Schaffhausen and Sporting CP earned safe passage to the next phase of the competition, but their mission will be tough – especially for Sporting, who will face SC Magdeburg in the next phase of the competition.
Group A’s winner was decided with only seven seconds to go in the last match of the last round, between the top two sides in the standings. Füchse Berlin, who had won the first match against Orlen Wisla Plock, needed a draw against the Polish team.
However, Wisla Plock’s left back Sergei Mark Kosorotov scored with seven seconds to go to seal a 29:28 win, that saw Wisla Plock take the first place in the standings (18 points), two points ahead of Füchse Berlin. Fenix Toulouse and Bidasoa Irun were the other two sides that also progressed to the next phase, as TATRAN Presov and Pfadi Winterthur were eliminated.
GOG, one of the strongest Danish sides this season, needed a bit of help to clinch the first place in Group B. The most efficient attack in the competition – scoring 340 goals in 10 games – lost their last game against TBV Lemgo 35:39 but still finished first thanks to SL Benfica’s last-gasp 31:30 win against HBC Nantes.
The French side finished third, while Lemgo were fourth, while Finnish side Cocks and Chekhovskie Medvedi were eliminated.
With 70 goals for USAM Nîmes Gard, Egyptian right wing Mohammad Sanad is the top scorer of the group phase, followed by GOG’s Simon Pytlick with 68 goals and Icelandic wing Bjarki Mar Elisson with 67 goals for TBV Lemgo.
The Last 16 phase of the competition will be played in a double-header, scheduled for 29 March and 5 April.
2021/22 EHF European League Men – Last 16 pairings
Kadetten Schaffhausen (SUI) vs IK Sävehof (SWE)
TBV Lemgo (GER) vs Orlen Wisla Plock (POL)
RK Nexe (CRO) vs HC Eurofarm Pelister (MKD)
Bidasoa Irun (ESP) vs GOG (DEN)
HBC Nantes (FRA) vs Füchse Berlin (GER)
Sporting CP (POR) vs SC Magdeburg (GER)
Fenix Toulouse Handball (FRA) vs SL Benfica (POR)
RK Gorenje Velenje (SLO) vs USAM Nîmes Gard (FRA)
For more information on the EHF European League Men, visit eurohandball.com.
Header photo: Eroll Popova