Handball is back in full swing, with top European leagues throwing off

08 Sep. 2022

Handball is back in full swing, with top European leagues throwing off

After a lengthy break throughout the summer, where several high-profile players changed clubs, the top competitions are back in business, with the most critical domestic leagues resuming over the past weeks, while the EHF Champions League resume over the next week.

The German Bundesliga, one of the best competitions in Europe in men's handball, has already scheduled two matchdays, with powerhouses like THW Kiel and SG Flensburg-Handewitt starting their seasons with two wins each.

Kiel, who lost the title to SC Magdeburg last season, took two clear wins, 36:23 against Stuttgart and 32:22 against Leipzig, despite missing two key players in Sander Sagosen and Hendrik Pekeler, both injured. It will also be the last season in black and white for Niklas Landin and Sander Sagosen, who return to their home countries next summer.

Magdeburg, the title holders, also started the new season with a win, 31:23 against Hamm-Westfalen, in the Bundesliga, after losing the German Supercup against Kiel, 33:36.

The Danish league also started last week, as both powerhouses, reigning champions GOG and Aalborg Handbold, secured wins in the first two matches. Aalborg, who signed up Mikkel Hansen last summer took two clear wins, 39:32 against Nordsjaelland and 33:28 against Skanderborg Aarhus, while GOG, who lost Mathias Gidsel, the MVP of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, had two-goal wins against Bjerringbro/Silkeborg, 34:32, and 39:37 against Mors.

While the French league throws off on 10 September, the Hungarian league started last week, with the two powerhouses, Pick Szeged (40:25 against Budakalasz) and Telekom Veszprem HC (35:24 against Balatonfuredi), scoring easy wins in their first games. Szeged are the reigning champions, taking a last-gasp win against Veszprem in the last season's final.

Barcelona are the only team to clinch two wins in the Liga ASOBAL, 37:26 against Granollers and 38:29 against Torrelavega, as the Spanish powerhouse, the reigning champions in the Machineseeker EHF Champions League, are looking at their 13th consecutive title in the domestic league.

Another season in the Polish league also got underway, as Lomza Industria Kielce and Orlen Wisla Plock secured 12-goal wins in their first matches, with another two-pronged battle between the powerhouses being set up.

With the emergence of Kolstad Handball as one of the most ambitious teams in Europe, the Norwegian league also becomes a hotspot for handball. Signing goalkeeper Torbjorn Bergerud and wing Sigvaldi Gudjonsson was a coup for Kolstad, who started the season with two wins in two games in the Norwegian league. But it was a slow start for champions Elverum, who lost against OIF Arendal for the first time in five years, 34:36, as their challenge for the title seems more difficult this time.

Tough battles in women's leagues

The high-profile competitions also started in the women's European handball, as the Danish league already saw one high-profile surprise, with Team Esbjerg conceding a 15:19 loss against Ajax Kobenhavn. 

Ushering in Nora Mork on the right back was a massive move for Esbjerg. Still, after winning the Danish Supercup against rivals Odense, 35:26, Jesper Jensen's side faltered against Ajax, scoring only three goals in the second half.

Odense took advantage and is the only side, alongside NFH Nykobing, to start the season with three wins, already putting two points between them and their biggest rivals at the earliest stage of the season.

Moving on to the Romanian league: there was a huge surprise, probably the biggest at the start of the season, with the reigning champions, CS Rapid Bucuresti, conceding an eight-goal loss against Gloria Buzau. Adding the 31:31 draw between them and runners-up CSM Bucuresti, Rapid find themselves in a tough spot, despite bringing in plenty of experience and talent, in the form of French pair Alexandra Lacrabere and Orlane Kanor or left wing Jennifer Gutierrez.

CSM also took a big win against their local rivals, Rapid, 28:26, in the Romanian Supercup, clinching the first trophy of the season.

Győri Audi ETO KC, with three wins in three games, and FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria, with two wins in the first two games, have also started the season flawlessly in the Hungarian league before starting their campaign in the European premium competition this weekend.

In the French league, five teams, including reigning champions Metz Handball and powerhouse Brest Bretagne Handball started the season with two wins in their first two games, with Metz on the top of the league, thanks to their +24 goal difference.

Vipers Kristiansand, the Norwegian champions and the reigning EHF Champions League title holders, started the season with three wins, including two in the domestic league. In contrast, the other Norwegian team in the European premium competition, Storhamar Handball Elite, lost a game, 33:36, in the league, against Molde.

Photo: Sascha Klahn