32 teams embark on European League journey
The 2021/22 European handball season gets off to a ferocious start this weekend with 15 matches in the EHF European League Men, including five of them streamed live on EHFTV.
In qualification round 1, 32 teams are aiming to move a step closer to the group phase, with 11 of the 16 ties played on a home-and-away basis over the next two weekends, alongside five double-headers.
The action begins on Friday at 18:00 CEST with a matchup between two teams with eyes on a big season in the European League. Trimo Trebnje impressed many with their run to the group phase in 2020/21 but they will need to produce something special to emulate that achievement this season, as they face EHF Cup Finals 2019 participants TTH Holstebro.
The double-header between RK Porec and Valur Iceland has been rescheduled for Friday 3 September and Saturday 4 September after the Icelandic team had to stay in a self-isolation this weekend due to three Covid-19 positive cases.
Clash of the talent factories
Slovenia’s Celje and Denmark’s GOG have long been recognised as two of the most exciting hubs for talent development. Every year is an adventure with these teams as we watch for which player will be next to make the breakthrough, but the European adventure will come to an early end for one team.
Celje have dropped out of the EHF Champions League for the first time since 2011 and lost the Slovenian league for the first time since 2013, leaving them in search of some self-confidence in Europe.
Men’s 19 EHF EURO 2021 MVP and top scorer Mitja Janc may have a chance to prove himself at the senior level against a GOG side full of self-confidence after an exciting run to the quarter-finals last season.
The Danish side have Tokyo 2020 MVP Mathias Gidsel in the squad and were bolstered by summer signings Jerry Tollbring and Torbjørn Bergerud, who add the experience which will make GOG slight favourites in this headline clash of round 1.
Double the fun
Rhein-Neckar Löwen’s home EHF Finals in May ended in disappointment with a loss in the semi-finals. Their road to redemption will be a long one as they begin in round 1 with a double-header against Spor Toto SK, who make the trip from Turkey.
HC CSKA impressed many with their free-flowing attacking style in their debut European campaign last season and will be hoping for more of the same as they welcome Israel’s Maccabi Rishon Lezion to Moscow.
Among the other double-headers, RK Porec and Valur Iceland face off on Friday and Saturday, Grupa Azoty Unia Tarnów and RK Nexe meet on 31 August and 1 September and HC Prolet 62 take on Fraikin BM. Granollers on 3 and 4 September.
EHF European League Men – Qualification Round 1
Friday 27 August
18:00 CEST: Trimo Trebnje vs TTH Holstebro
Saturday 28 August
12:00 CEST: Maccabi Rishon Lezion vs HC CSKA (EHFTV)
15:00 CEST: Bjerringbro-Silkeborg vs Ystads IF
15:00 CEST: Csurgoi KK vs Dobrogea Sud Constanta (EHFTV)
17:00 CEST: KS Azoty-Pulawy SA vs MRK Sesvete
18:00 CEST: RK Celje Pivovarna Laško vs GOG
18:00 CEST: HC Kriens-Luzern vs SL Benfica
18:00 CEST: Rhein-Neckar Löwen vs Spor Toto SK
19:00 CEST: Aguas Santa Milaneza vs BM La Rioja (EHFTV)
19:00 CEST: ALPLA HC Hard vs Fenix Toulouse Handball
Sunday 29 August
12:00 CEST: HC CSKA vs Maccabi Rishon Lezion (EHFTV)
15:00 CEST: Spor Toto SK vs Rhein-Neckar Löwen
16:30 CEST: Balatonfüredi KSE vs HK Malmö (EHFTV)
17:00 CEST: Górnik Zabrze vs ØIF Arendal
17:30 CEST: Vojvodina vs Kadetten Schaffhausen