10 milestones that can be hit this season
Milestones are always fun, but they also paint a serious picture of the history of a competition.
Goals and trophies are obviously in the spotlight, but there are more bits and pieces to be discovered in the DELO EHF Champions League this season, like the team with the most wins in the competition, or a players who can score her 1,000th career goal.
We are taking a trip down memory lane but also focus on the future. Which milestones can be hit in the new season?
Two rookies in the new season
A total of 40 different teams have played in the EHF Champions League through the years. And all 40 have played at least 14 games in the competition.
One of the freshest faces are Odense HC, who have returned following their debut in the 2017/18 season. But there are two new teams that break their duck this season.
CSKA from Russia and BV Borussia 09 Dortmund from Germany made their debuts last weekend, contributing to the competition’s long history.
CSKA are the fifth Russian side to appear in the competition, after HC Lada, Dinamo Volvograd, Zvezda Zvenigorod and Rostov-Don.
Russian sides have done well over the years: Zvezda won the title once (in the 2007/08 season), while Lada (2006/07) and Rostov (2018/19) reached the final and Dinamo the semi-final (2014/15).
On the other side, no German team has won the competition so far. Dortmund are just the fourth Bundesliga team to play in the group phase, after HC Leipzig, SG BBM Bietigheim and Thüringer HC.
Can Görbicz reach the 1,000-goal mark?
Scoring 959 goals in 17 seasons is a huge achievement, but can Anita Görbicz also get to 1,000? Going into the season, the two-time EHF Champions League top scorer needed just 41 more goals to hit that number…
… but she has already netted five times in Györ’s season-opener, a 27:27 draw at CSKA last Saturday.
The 37-year old playmaker, who has also featured as a left wing for the Hungarian powerhouse in the past seasons, scored just four times in the 2019/20 season, which was cut short due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
With Györ’s attacking prowess and Görbicz’s penchant for scoring penalties at an excellent rate, anything is possible this season.
Longest unbeaten streak
The longest unbeaten streak in the EHF Champions League is still running. Györi Audi ETO KC, winners of the past three trophies, lost a game for the last time in January 2018, when CSM Bucuresti triumphed 28:22 in the first game of the main round.
Since then, Györ have not lost in 38 games, including Saturday’s season-opening draw at CSKA. En route, Györ won a record-setting 19 games in a row between February 2018 and January 2019.
The unprecedented streak includes 34 wins and four draws: two against domestic rivals FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria, one against Brest Bretagne Handball, and the one against CSKA - which only came after rallying from a 26:23 deficit in the final minutes.
Can they make it to 50 this season? Despite fierce opposition, from the likes of Buducnost, Brest or CSKA, Györ could reach the 50 in the penultimate round of the group phase.
Two teams approaching 50th win
Only 12 teams have won at least 50 games in the EHF Champions League, and two more teams have a chance this season to reach that milestone as well: CSM Bucuresti and Rostov-Don.
The Romanian side, title winners in 2015/16, has won 44 out of 75 matches, including last weekend’s 31:26 against Metz Handball, and needs just six more victories to get to 50.
Coming into the season with a 70.31% winning efficiency - second only to Györ’s 78.01% among current participants - Rostov are also close to the 50-win mark.
Last weekend they played their 65th game in the competition’s history and earned their 44th win (26:25 at FTC), which leaves them also six short. Rostov would become the first team from Russia to achieve the feat.
Time for No. 6 for Görbicz and Amorim?
Györ’s domination in the competition has been complete in the past seasons, as the Hungarian powerhouse strengthened their team, played from experience and mixed a great defence with an otherworldly attack to constantly put opponents on the wrong foot.
Five of the past seven completed editions of the competition ended with Györ lifting the trophy, and only two players have been there for the ride.
Backs Anita Görbicz and Eduarda Amorim have been staples to Györ’s winning culture, inspiring and helping teammates, despite of their numerous injuries.
If Györ stay on track this season, Görbicz and Amorim can tie former Austrian back Ausra Fridrikas and Montenegrin stalwart Bojana Popovic as the only players with six trophies in the competition.
Close to 7,000 goals
Despite being renowned as a defence-first team in the past years under coach Dragan Adzic, Buducnost are also the side who scored the largest number of goals in the competition’s history.
In fact, Buducnost will become the first team to pass the 7,000-goal mark this season, as they top the chart with 6,872 goals, including the 26 goals from their defeat against HC Podravka Vegeta last weekend.
Therefore, the Montenegrin powerhouse only needs 128 goals, a mark that should be cleared by the fifth or sixth game this season.
RK Krim Mercator are close behind, with 6,712 goals, having played just eight games less than Buducnost.
Györ (6,209) are the only other team to clear to 6000-goal mark in the history of the competition. But the Hungarian title holders have the best scoring average, with 28.6 goals per game, two more than Buducnost’s average of 26.5.
Largest number of goals scored in a season
The new season of the DELO EHF Champions League will feature 132 games, 24 more than under the previous format, as the competition switched to a more entertaining mode, featuring two groups of eight teams, a knockout phase and the quarter-finals until the DELO EHF FINAL4 in Budapest.
The current record for most goals in a single season is 6,510, from the 2006/07 campaign, when Slagelse won the competition. Back then 114 games were played, for an average of 57.1 goals per game.
With 18 more matches to be played this season, that record is bound to be broken, as an average of just 49.4 goals per match would be enough.
Last weekend, the 2020/21 season started with 437 goals in eight matches for an average of 54.6. If the teams keep up that rate, even the 7,000-goal barrier would be easily passed.
Competing in their 25th consecutive season
The European women’s handball scene is in constant flux, new teams like CSKA or Dortmund emerging each season, while others like CSM Bucuresti or Team Esbjerg just found their footing and are eyeing progressing to the knock-out phases of the European premium competition each season.
However, there are some powerhouses that never grow old, with their names mirroring the whole history of the competition.
Buducnost and RK Krim Mercator are two of these sides, as they have entered their 25th consecutive season in the EHF Champions League, an unprecedented record.
Since 1996, both Krim and Buducnost have qualified for each and every season in the European premium competition, also winning the trophy two times each.
It is no surprise, therefore, that Buducnost (259 games) and Krim (251 games) top the record tables for the numbers of games played. They faced off 20 times, with Buducnost taking 14 wins against Krim’s six.
Can Neagu add more to her record list?
Dutch centre back Nycke Groot holds the all-time EHF FINAL4 scoring record, with 57 goals in five appearances in Budapest. But the Odense player can be leapfrogged by none other than Cristina Neagu, who is second, with 56 goals.
Neagu, the all-time top scorer at the EHF EURO, is eyeing her sixth EHF FINAL4 berth with CSM Bucuresti this season and could score her way out of the second place.
However, Groot is back in the EHF Champions League with Odense after a one-year hiatus, but will the Danish side go so deep this season?
Anita Görbicz (52 goals), Andrea Lekic (47) and Eduarda Amorim (45) are also within striking distance of Groot’s record.
15th consecutive quarter-final for Györ?
Györ can earn their 15th consecutive quarter-final berth this season. The Hungarian side are in their 17th season in the competition.
Györ played in the semi-finals 12 times and also hold the record for most trophies - five, which came all after 2012. The Hungarian side reached the final in five of the six EHF FINAL4 events so far, winning four times and losing just once, on penalties against CSM Bucuresti in 2016.