09 Sep. 2021
Sixteen teams will be lining up at the start of the new season of the DELO EHF Champions League, aiming for the trophy won last season by the Norwegian champions Vipers Kristiansand.
With many fresh faces in the team, including backs Nerea Pena, Isabelle Gullden, Marketa Jerabkova and Zsuzsanna Tomori, Vipers have a more international look, with their ambitions still high. Yet the loss of the MVP of last year’s DELO EHF FINAL4, back Henny Reistad, will be difficult to compensate, as the Norwegian prodigy moved to Team Esbjerg.
Unbeaten in regular time in 56 games, Hungarian powerhouse Györi ETO Audi KC will be aiming to bounce back once again. An unprecedented transfer campaign saw the five-time winner usher in seven new players, including line players Crina Pintea (Romania) and Linn Blohm (Sweden), Korean right back Ryu-Eun Hee and Hungarian players Noemi Hafra and Nadine Schatzl from archrivals FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria.
Yet, Györ’s challenge for the title will be cut out after they were drawn in Group B alongside Vipers, Russian champions CSKA Moscow, French powerhouse Metz Handball, Danish champions Odense Håndbold, Turkish rookie Kastamonu Belediyesi GSSK, and two other sides with plenty of appearances in the competition: Sweden’s IK Sävehof and Slovenia’s Krim Mercator Ljubljana.
Other challengers for the trophy seem to be Rostov-Don, who engineered an experienced side this season, bringing in Beatrice Edwige and Eduarda Amorim from Györ, strengthening their defence, while fellow Russian side CSKA Moscow are trying to repeat their achievement, the DELO EHF FINAL4 berth sealed last season, after signing last season’s top scorer Ana Gros from Brest Bretagne Handball.
CSM Bucuresti, a former winner six seasons ago, will be relying once again on Cristina Neagu, one of six players to have scored at least 800 goals in the competition, yet the depth could be an issue for the Romanian champions.
In total, the DELO EHF Champions League, which throws off on 11 September, has 16 teams at the start this season – two each from Hungary, France, Russia and Denmark and one each from Norway, Romania, Germany, Turkey, Montenegro, Slovenia, Sweden and Croatia. The sides have been drawn into two groups of eight teams each.
The best two teams in the groups will progress to the quarter-finals, while teams placed third to sixth will enter in a play-off phase, with a doubleheader deciding their future in the competition.
Group A: Brest Bretagne Handball, FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria, Buducnost BEMAX, CSM Bucuresti, BV Borussia 09 Dortmund, Rostov-Don, Team Esbjerg, HC Podravka Vegeta
Group B: CSKA Moscow, Vipers Kristiansand, RK Krim Mercator, Odense Håndbold, Györi Audi ETO KC, Metz Handball, Kastamonu Belediyesi GSSK, IK Sävehof
For more information visit the DELO EHF Champions League website.
Photo: European Handball Federation