A new champion to lift the EHF Cup trophy this season
When the Men’s EHF Cup finishes with the final tournament in Nantes (France) in May, a new team will lift the trophy.
None of the previous champions from the current format (that was introduced in the 2012/13 season) are present in the group phase this time around.
Neither Rhein-Neckar Löwen, who won the tournament in 2013, nor 2014 winners Pick Szeged or Füchse Berlin, who won last year are in the race this season.
Füchse were sent out in qualification Round 3 for this season’s group phase, while Rhein-Neckar Löwen and Szeged are both the VELUX EHF Champions League.
This does not mean that there are no previous EHF Cup winners among the 16 teams in the group phase, though.
However, their triumphs go back to the years before the current system of a group phase and a final tournament.
This applies to Fraikin BM Granollers, who won the EHF Cup back in the 1994/95 season and again the following year.
This season, Granollers are in the same group as a team who have won the tournament no less than three times in the past.
SC Magdeburg, who are in Group A with Granollers, won the competition in the 1998/99 season and again in the 2000/01 and 2006/07 season.
Magdeburg is also the only team in the group phase, which has also won the EHF Champions League.
The Germany club ticked off that achievement in the 2001/02 season.
Group A is completed by Aalborg Handball, who were in the Last 16 of the VELUX EHF Champions League the previous two years, and Dinamo Bucuresti.
In Group B, we find another former EHF Cup winner.
Frisch Auf Göppingen have won the tournament two years in a row in 2011 and again in 2012.
They also reached the finals of the 2012/13 tournament, but ended up finishing fourth.
The German side is up against EHF Cup Group Phase debutants OCI-LIONS, Team Tvis Holstebro, who reached the finals in 2013, and hosts of the finals this season, HBC Nantes who were runners-up in 2013.
There are no former EHF Cup champions to be found in Group C or D, but several teams with a history in the Champions League.
In Group C, Bjerringbro-Silkeborg were in the Last 16 of the VELUX EHF Champions League as late is in the 2012/13 season, while the Champions League memories of SKA Minsk and Pfadi Winterthur go further back and are more modest.
French Saint-Raphael Var is the fourth and final team in this group.
In Group D, another French side, Chambery Savoie Handball is the only team with a Champions League past, reaching the Last 16 in the 2010/11 season.
The group is completed with group phase debutants Helvetia Anaitasuna, Ystads IF and CSM Bucuresti.
The 16 teams in the group phase compete for a ticket to the quarter-finals, from where the winners will then proceed to the EHF Cup Finals in Nantes
For a full overview of all the fixtures for the upcoming Men's EHF Cup Group Phase click here, with the first match throwing off on the 10.02
TEXT: Peter Bruun / bc