Preview on Round 1 EHF Cup Group Phase
16 teams from 12 countries, six rounds with a total of 48 matches – those are the ingredients of the first ever Group Phase in the newly structured EHF Cup.
The first round will be played all over Europe this weekend, the remaining five rounds will be played until 24 March to confirm those six to eight teams, which qualify for the quarter-final – the last stage before the first EHF Cup Finals, with semi-finals, the 3rd place match and final to be played in Nantes, France on 18/19 May.
If the host, HBC Nantes, is among the four group winners or the three best second ranked teams after the Group Phase, the French progress directly to the final event without having to play a quarter-final.
In this case, only the four group winners and the two best second ranked teams face in the quarterfinals. If Nantes is fourth best second ranked team, they also will have to compete in the quarterfinals, which then are played with all group winners and second ranked teams in April. Nantes are part of Group D with Besiktas (Turkey), Magdeburg (Germany) and Bacău (Romania).
Germany is the only country, represented by three teams in this stage, including Frisch Auf Göppingen, the last winner of the “old” EHF Cup in the 2011/12 season, Magdeburg and Rhein Neckar Löwen.
Denmark (Holstebro and Kolding) and Slovenia (Koper and Maribor) are represented by two teams each; the remaining nine nations can count on one participant each.
From the historic and statistical point of view, SC Magdeburg is the most successful of all 16 teams – including the triumph in the EHF Champions League in 2002 and three trophies in the “old” EHF Cup (1999, 2001, 2007).
Four of the 16 participating teams of the EHF Cup Group Phase failed in the qualification tournaments for the VELUX EHF Champions League, but now try their next attempt to be successful in the EHF Cup competition: Prešov (SVK), Koper (SLO), Besiktas (TUR) and Płock (POL).
And three teams had to go all the way in the EHF Cup qualification to be among the 16 teams, having played already three qualification rounds in the EHF Cup: Elverum (NOR), Kolding (DEN) and Maribor (SLO).
The biggest surprise in the qualification was the clear elimination of French top team St. Raphael by the Danish youngsters from Holstebro in Round 3.
Now each team have three home and away matches in the newly installed Group Stage in the upcoming seven weeks. The draw for the quarter-finals will be on 26 March.
The three German teams, but also Kolding, Płock and Nantes were mentioned most of the time by the coaches of the 16 participants as the favourites for reaching the Finals or winning the new trophy.
Group Phase, Round 1 fixtures:
RK Cimos Koper (SLO) vs. Naturhouse La Rioja (ESP)
Saturday, 19:00 hrs local time
Frisch Auf Göppingen (GER) vs. Eskilstuna Guif (SWE)
Saturday, 19:30 hrs local time
HC Motor Zaporozhye (UKR) vs. KIF Kolding (DEN)
Saturday, 17:00 hrs local time
Tatran Prešov (SVK) vs. Rhein-Neckar Löwen (GER)
Saturday, 20:30 hrs local time
Team Tvis Holstebro (DEN) vs. RK Maribor Branik (SLO)
Sunday, 15:00 hrs local time
Elverum Handball Herrer (NOR) vs. Orlen Wisła Płock (POL)
Sunday 18:00 hrs local time
SC Magdeburg (GER ) vs. Besiktas JK (TUR)
Saturday, 15:00 hrs local time
Stiinta Municipal Dedeman Bacău (ROU) vs. HBC Nantes (FRA)
Sunday, 18:45 hrs local time
Follow results of the Men´s EHF Cup Group Phase Round 1 matches here
TEXT: EHF / br