16 teams, 9 nations, 7 former champions, and a lot of stars
The new EHF European League Women enters its inaugural group phase this weekend with a star-studded line-up.
Seven (out of the 16) teams have won a European club competition in the past, while a string of Olympic gold medallists, EHF EURO champions and EHF Champions League winners - as clubs, players or coaches - are involved in the competition.
Here are the facts and figures ahead of the group phase:
1 - this is the first edition of the EHF European League Women, having replaced the Women’s EHF Cup, and it will be the first second-tier women’s competition below the DELO EHF Champions League with its own four-team finals tournament.
1 former EHF Champions League winner is part of the group phase: Zvezda from the Russian city Zvenigorod, who won the Champions League in 2008.
1 other Champions League finalist is part of the group phase: Lada Togliatti, also from Russia, who were finalists in 2007.
1 player who has been Champions League top scorer is part of the group phase: Siófok’s Andrea Kobetic (formerly playing under her maiden name, Penezic) scored 102 times for Vardar in 2014/15 and shared the top-scorer title that season with Cristina Neagu.
1 coach won the Olympic title as a player: Siófok’s Zdravko Zovko won gold with Yugoslavia in 1984.
2 players who won Olympic gold are part of the group phase: Kastamonu's Amanda Kurtovic won with Norway in 2012, Kuban’s Victoria Zhilinskayte won with Russia in 2016.
2 players from Kastamonu have won the Champions League in the past: Ekaterina Vetkova with Zvezda in 2008 and with CSM in 2016, and Amanda Kurtovic with Larvik in 2011.
2 teams in the current group phase reached the EHF Cup semi-finals last season: Siófok and Lada; unfortunately, the semi-finals could not be played as the competition was cancelled following the outbreak of the coronavirus.
2 teams that won the Champions League multiple times in the past failed to qualify for the group phase: Hypo Niederösterreich from Austria and Viborg from Denmark.
2 teams that won the former Cup Winners’ Cup are playing in the group phase: Lada (won CWC in 2002) and Ikast (in 2004 and, as FC Midtjylland, in 2015).
2 ties in qualification round 3 didn’t feature home and away matches but were decided in a single match: Hungary’s Vac (42:41 vs Most) and Turkey’s Kastamonu (31:30 vs DVSC) both won that matches by a single goal.
2 former coaches of CSM Bucuresti are leading a group phase team: Lublin’s Kim Rasmussen, who won the title with CSM in 2016, and Kastamonu’s Helle Thomsen.
2 Croatian coaches are involved in the group phase though no Croatian teams are taking part: Zdravko Zovko (Siófok) and Neven Hrupec (Braila)
3 teams in the group phase have proceeded all the way through both qualification rounds: Paris 92 from France, Thüringer HC from Germany, and Dunarea Braila from Romania.
3 clubs from three different countries won the EHF Cup in 2017-19: Rostov (RUS), Craiova (ROU) and Siófok (HUN)
3 out of three French clubs in qualification round 3 have made it through to the group phase, compared to none in the EHF Cup last season.
4 EHF Cup winners are among the 16 group phase participants: Ikast (2002, 2012 as FC Midtjylland), Zvezda (2007), Lada (2012, 2014) and Siófok (2019).
4 teams - Herning-Ikast, Siófok, Baia Mare and Lada - were seeded for the group phase and skipped the qualification round(s).
5 EHF EURO 2020 medallists are playing in the group phase: Norway’s gold medallist Stine Skogrand (Herning), French silver medallists Laura Flippes (Paris) and Alexandra Lacrabere (Fleury), and Croatian bronze medallists Katarina Jezic (Siófok) and Ana Debelic (Astrakhanochka); Debelic also was the All-star Team line player.
5 non-European nations are represented in the quad of French side Fleury: Brazil, Senegal, Angola, Congo and Cuba.
7 teams in the group phase also played in the group phase of the EHF Cup last season: Siófok, Kastamonu, Thüringer HC, Lublin, Herning-Ikast, Lada and Storhamar.
9 nations are represented by the 16 group phase teams: Russia (4 teams), France (3), Romania (2), Hungary (2), Denmark, Germany, Norway, Poland, Turkey; the group phase of the EHF Cup last season featured 10 nations, as Croatia and Czech Republic are out this time, and France in.
12 knockout matches - eight quarter-finals and four duels at the finals tournament - will follow the group phase.
14 goals marked the biggest aggregate winning margin in qualification round 3, where Paris beat Nykøbing 56:42 (28:16 in France, 28:26 in Denmark).
48 group matches will decide which eight teams advance to the quarter-final.
83 was the highest number of goals in a qualification match, when Vac (HUN) defeated Banik Most (CZE) 42:41.