A former champion enters the stage
They are the second best Catalan handball club after FC Barcelona and besides Magdeburg and Göppingen, they are the only former winners of the old EHF Cup format to be part of this season’s group phase: After BM Granollers in 2014/15 missed out on qualification for the quarter-finals by only one single point, the team of coach Carlos Viver Arza is eager to go all the way to the EHF Cup Finals in Nantes.
But the Catalans were drawn in a tough group, facing two more contenders for the EHF Cup Finals, Magdeburg and Aalborg; their third opponent is Romanian side Dinamo Bucuresti.
In the previous season, Granollers were finalists in the King’s Cup and the league cup (both against their neighbours Barcelona) and finished the Spanish ASOBAL League in third place, a place, which is also one of their objectives for the current season as well as making it to Nantes.
Four Brazilian national team players make up the remaining all-Spanish squad, including Marc Canellas, brother of Spanish World Champion and EURO finalists Joan Canellas (THW Kiel).
In qualification for the group phase of the EHF Cup, Granollers had no problems with the Norwegian side OIF Arendal; berth for the next stage was clinched after the 29:21 on home ground in the first leg of qualification round 3.
Three questions to coach Carlos Viver Arza:
What are your expectations for the group phase of the EHF Cup - regarding your objectives and your group opponents?
Carlos Viver Arza: Our group is a very strong one, with internationally experienced teams. We expect it will be close but it is our clear intention to proceed to the quarter-finals.
What does the participation in the group phase of the EHF Cup mean to you and your club?
Carlos Viver Arza: For our club it is a big success to be part of the group phase in the second consecutive season. It is our continuous effort to promote our young players and thus to grow in this competition. The club’s image is only improved by playing in this prestigious competition, which is also a great spectacle for our supporters, members, sponsors and the city itself.
What teams are your personal favourites to reach the EHF Cup Finals?
Carlos Viver Arza: Magdeburg, Chambery, Nantes, Silkeborg, Granollers
Fraikin BM Granollers (ESP)
Newcomers: Cesar Almeida (Bm. Guadalajara), Henrique Teixeira (Taubate/Brazil), Gonzalo Porras (Bm. Benidorm), Alejandro Marquez (FC Barcelona II), Alvaro Ferrer (Bm Aragon), Mamadou Gassama, Miquel Flores, Marc Guardia (all Bm Granollers II)
Left the club: Nicklas Grundsten (Karlskrona), Jose Toledo (Wisla Plock), Alvaro Ruiz (Toulouse), Jordi Capedevila (Bm. La Roca), Jordi Puig (Bm. La Roca), Dimitrije Pejanovic (Bm. Huesca), Juan Del Arco (Qatar)
Coach: Carlos Viver Arza (since 2014)
Team captain: David Resina Forns
Qualification for the EHF Cup Group Phase: Round 3, 29:21, 26:28 against OIF Arendal
EHF Cup records
Winner: 1994/95, 1995/96
Group Phase: 2014/15
EHF Cup Winners’ Cup
City Cup records
TEXT: Björn Pazen / bc