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18.09.2017, 14:30
Five takeaways after the group phase’s opening round
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TALKING POINTS: The first round of the VELUX EHF Champions League included many tight matches, dramatic final minutes and a surprising upset. Here are five things we learned

»EHF CL Channel »2017-18 Men's CL
»Group Phase
»
 

Five takeaways after the group phase’s opening round

Finally, the VELUX EHF Champions League is back. The first round of matches gave us plenty of talking points and expectations for an exciting season.

Here are five things we learned from the weekend.

Clash of the giants always delivers a thrill

You should always expect entertainment when two handball giants come face-to-face. The Mannheim thriller between German champions Rhein-Neckar Löwen and Spanish champions Barcelona in Sunday’s Match of the Week lived up to expectations and reminded the Catalan side of a valuable lesson: It is not over until it is over.

After Barcelona’s six-goal half-time lead, a fantastic comeback by Löwen and a dramatic last-second goal by Patrick Groetzki resulted in a 31:31 tie. The fans in attendance got their money’s worth in a game that served as a perfect advertisement for the new season.

Brest not to be underestimated after causing upset

Saturday gave us the first upset of the season. 2016 champions Kielce were on the back foot throughout their contest away to HC Meshkov Brest, eventually falling 28:25.

Head coach Sergej Bebeshko‘s celebration on the bench clearly showed how much it means to the Belarusian side, who have made their intentions for this season clear after this surprising victory.

Brest travel to PSG in Round 2 for a match which will really test their capability to compete with the competition’s elite.

Nothing beats being the hero

We had a handful of tight matches in the first round, which gives players a chance to be a hero for their club. And nothing beats being the hero.

Slovenian goalkeeper Klemen Ferlin from Rk Gorenje Velenje was on everyone‘s lips as he secured his team a victory in the last breath of the game against Abanca Ademar Leon in Group C, 23:22.

With three seconds remaining he stood firm against Alejandro Costoya’s shot and denied the Spaniards a point. His teammates rushing to him to celebrate is what every player dreams of in pre-season.

Vranjes’ men react perfectly in Celje

Ljubomir Vranjes is settling in quite well as the new head coach of Telekom Veszprém moving from SG Flensburg-Handwitt in the summer.

In Germany, he claimed the VELUX EHF Champions League title in 2014 and his task is clear, to lead the Hungarian side to the top of the podium in Cologne.

Vranjes could not have wished for a better result with the Hungarian side in his first European game at the helm.

Veszprém turned a two-goal deficit at the break into an eight-goal victory away to Celje in Group B, 39:31, which saw the Hungarian side top the scoring chart, alongside Danish side Skjern after Round 1, and the red wall of supporters in the stands who made the trip to Slovenia must have made the occasion even more special for the Swedish coach.

Sporting back with a bang

They say that a week is a long time in politics, well how about 16 years in handball?

Portuguese champions Sporting CP came back to the big stage after a 16-year absence. Their long-awaited return was a moment to remember with a 30:26 win against Besiktas Mogaz HT in Turkey.

The win is only Sporting‘s third in the EHF Champions League in the first participation for Hugo Canela‘s team since their debut in 2001/02. How about that for a comeback?


TEXT: Andri Yrkill Valsson / cor
 
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