Rivalries set after EHF European League draw
- First draw event for new-look EHF European League completed
- 6 matches in qualification round 2 of the EHF European League Women
- 15 matches in qualification round 1 of the EHF European League Men
- Watch a recording of the draw on EHFTV as well as the EHF European League Facebook page and YouTube channel
So here we are, the first draws of the all-new EHF European League are done and dusted. Thanks for joining us and we are going to leave you with our extensive draw reviews:
And for those of you who missed it (or just want to see it again), here are the four interviews with top players Nadia Offendal (Paris 92), Emma Fernis (THC), Valter Chrintz (IFK Kristianstad) and Nebojsa Simic (MT Melsungen) by Chris O'Reilly on the @ehfel_official Instagram account right after the draw.
Now let's hear from head coach Horatiu Gal from Romanian side AHC Potaissa Turda, who will be crossing swords with HRK Gorica of Croatia.
"We are meeting with a team originating from a country with a lot of experience, both at club and at national team level. Gorica are playing against Nexe or Zagreb in their domestic league, teams that are used to playing in Europe every season," Gal says.
"They have the edge, as the second leg is played on their court. However, I hope that we will not have fresh injuries and we can play some friendly game before the throw-off against them. We want to proceed to the group phase, but it will not be easy," Gal adds.
More reactions are coming in from THC, as their head coach Herbert Müller says WAT Atzgersdorf "is more than perfect for us, from all perspectives." It will be a special occasion for Müller, who is also the head coach of the Austrian national women's team.
"It is the major goal of our new team to proceed, and to make it to the next stage is definitely possible. I am the head coach of the national team, five of my players at Thüringer HC are Austrians, both teams and the players know each other so well. We really had hoped for an opponent from Austria or Switzerland, also in terms of travelling, so our wish came true for 100 percent. And I guess Atzgersdorf will also be looking forward to face so many Austrians. I guess in the whole constellation of this competition, this is the pairing with the highest number of Austrian players possible."
Freshly joined from IK Sävehof, Emma Ekenman-Fernis is looking forward to start her EHF European League Women adventure with Thüringer HC. The Swedish right wing and her German team will play WAT Atzgersdorf, the Austrian team that ended the 42-year-long national championship streak of Hypo Niederösterreich in 2019.
"I don’t know much about the team, but I need to ask my new teammates with links to the Austrian handball and I am sure they will know much more," Ekenman-Fernis told Chris O'Reilly on the @ehfel_official Instagram account.
German side MT Melsungen are up against Bjerringbro-Silkeborg of Denmark once again. Both teams also met last season, as Melsungen's Montenegrin goalkeeper Nebojsa Simic remembers well.
"We played against Bjerringbro-Silkeborg last year in the EHF Cup group phase and we would have been eliminated on aggregate if this was a knockout round," Simic has just told Chris O'Reilly on the @ehfel_official Instagram account.
"I will be really happy to see my former teammate Johan Sjöstrand, who joined BSV this summer," Simic says. "He will be really motivated to play his best against us, which will not be good for us."
Recent EHF Champions League regulars IFK Kristianstad have been handed a tough draw as the Swedish side face a Scandinavian derby against OIF Arendal of Norway.
This is what Valter Chrintz has just told Chris O'Reilly on the @ehfel_official Instagram account:
"I have been in Arendal before, I like the city. It is a good team so it will be a tough game," says the right wing of IFK, who start with a home game on 29 or 30 August, followed by the return leg in Norway a week later. "We go there to win," Chrintz adds.
Let's hear from João Pais, left wing of Benfica, who have been drawn against Fivers of Austria:
"EHF European League is a new competition with stronger clubs since the first round and I think it was a favorable draw for us. We immediately avoided PAUC Handball, which in my opinion was the strongest team in pot 2, and we can start the official competitions in this new season at home. It will be a very interesting duel because the Fivers have a style of play that is close to the German teams, which also allows us to prepare the beginning of our championship with greater intensity. The EHF European League is one of our goals at the time and as such we will enter to win both games."
Paris 92 newcomer Nadia Offendal, arrived from Odense this summer, is "super excited" about playing in the EHF European League Women, where the French side is set to meet IUVENTA Michalovce from Slovakia in the opening qualification round.
"I can see that they won a lot of championships in Slovakia. They want to play fast but I want to focus on ourselves. There are no limits to our dreams of what we can achieve in the EHF European League. I am curious to see how far we can go," Offendal just told Chris O'Reilly on the @ehfel_official Instagram account.
In Spain, they are particularly looking forward to the clash between last season's EHF Champions League group winners Bidasoa Irun and French side PAUC Handball. Not only because those are two really strong teams, but also because of the three Spanish players competing for PAUC.
A quick reminder that you can get the latest reactions from some of the top players in a few minutes' time on the @ehfel_official Instagram account.
Paris 92's Nadia Offendal, Thüringer HC's Emma Fernis, Valter Chrintz of IFK Kristianstad and MT Melsungen's Nebojsa Simic will all be on chat to Chris O'Reilly, giving their opinion on this today's draw.
Here's what Axel Geerken, director MT Melsungen and former Kiel player, had to say about his side's pairing with Bjerringbro-Silkeborg.
“Funny enough, we face the same team in our first qualification match of the EHF European League, which was our last opponent in the EHF Cup group phase end of February. After the regional pots were presented by the EHF, we knew that we will have a tough nut to crack already in the first qualification round. Bjerringbro Silkeborg is a top team with high ambitions, but we are truly looking forward to those matches, as we are thankful to be part of this competition.
"The EHF European League is something different compared to EHF Cup, therefore we are very happy and hope to remain as long as possible part of the competition."
So many fun ties to look forward to at the end of August on the men's side, but if forced to select just one from each of the three zones, they would be: SKA Minsk vs HC CSKA, Bjerringbro-Silkeborg vs MT Melsungen and PAUC Handball vs Bidasoa Irun.
Here's the overview of the EHF European League Women Qualification Round 2 matches. H.C. Dunarea Braila vs Tertnes Bergen, Paris 92 vs IUVENTA Michalovce and Lugi Handboll vs Kuban appear to be the standout games at first glance, but there is plenty of time between now and the first leg on 10/11 October for teams to grow and figure out their gameplan for their first European matches of the season.
As EHF Media's fan favourite Vlado Brindzak wraps up the draw event, a reminder that the first leg of qualification round 1 is scheduled for 29/30 August, followed by the second leg one week later, so we are now just over a month away from the return of European club handball.
A total of 15 teams will advance to qualification round 2 in September, when nine more teams are set to enter the competition.
As a result, 12 teams will qualify for the group phase starting in October 2020, where they will join 12 more teams that have been directly seeded through to the group phase.
Next up is qualification round 1 of the EHF European League Men.
AHC Potaissa Turda (ROU) vs HRK Gorica (CRO)
HC Dobrogea Sud Constanta (ROU) vs HC Victor (RUS)
SKA Minsk (BLR) vs HC CSKA (RUS)
HEDO-B. Braun Gyöngyös (HUN) vs HC Butel Skopje (MKD)
HC Metalurg (MKD) vs RK Spacva Vinkovci (CRO)
TTH Holstebro (DEN) vs Valur (ISL)
IFK Kristianstad (SWE) vs ØIF Arendal (NOR)
Bjerringbro-Silkeborg (DEN) vs MT Melsungen (GER)
Skjern Handbold (DEN) vs HK Malmö (SWE)
KS Azoty-Pulawy SA (POL) vs Haslum Handballklubb (NOR)
SL Benfica (POR) vs Fivers (AUT)
Pfadi Winterthur (SUI) vs Handball Esch (LUX)
PAUC Handball (FRA) vs Bidasoa Irun (ESP)
Club de Futebol Os Belenenses (POR) vs RK Trimo Trebnje (SLO)
HC Kriens-Luzern (SUI) vs RK Dubrava (CRO)
The first leg of the six ties in qualification round 2 is scheduled for 10/11 October, followed by the second leg one week later.
The six winners will advance to qualification round 3 in November when 18 other teams are set to enter the competition.
Ultimately, 12 teams will qualify for the group phase starting in January 2021, joining the four teams – Denmark’s Herning-Ikast Handbold, Russia’s Handball Club Lada, Romania’s CS Minaur Baia Mare and Hungary’s Siófok KC – which have been directly seeded through to the group phase.
We begin with qualification round 2 of the EHF European League Women, drawn by Markus Glaser and Peter Sichelschmidt, two of the smoothest operators in the sports draw world.
H.C. Dunarea Braila (ROU) vs Tertnes Bergen (NOR)
Molde HK Elite (NOR) vs Hypo Niederösterreich (AUT)
Paris 92 (FRA) vs IUVENTA Michalovce (SVK)
WAT Atzgersdorf (AUT) vs Thüringer HC (GER)
Lugi Handboll (SWE) vs Kuban (RUS)
LC Brühl Handball (SUI) vs Alba Fehérvár KC (HUN)
However, we've embedded the YouTube stream here, so you can follow it and get live text updates without moving an inch!
Not long to wait until we get this draw underway and there is plenty to look forward to.
The new format of Europe's club competitions, particularly the reduction of the EHF Champions League Men to 16 teams, means that the European League is stacked with experienced and ambitious clubs.
Even the casual fan cannot help but sit up and take notice of the likes of Skjern Handbold, MT Melsungen, IFK Kristianstad, Bidasoa Irun and many others already in qualification round 1, so the road to the group phase should be a fascinating one with the odd shock result or two along the way.
EHF Marketing yesterday announced its partnership with IQONIQ, an innovative new fan engagement platform made for sports and entertainment.
The partnership, which will run for four years from the start of the 2020/21 season, will see IQONIQ become an official partner for fan engagement and loyalty in the EHF Champions League Men and the EHF European League Men. This partnership will bring plenty of benefits to you loyal fans, so read more about the news here.
As well as this live blog and the live streaming options at the top of the page, we'll bring you live reactions from top players at 12:30 CET on the @ehfel_official Instagram account.
Paris 92's Nadia Offendal, Thüringer HC's Emma Fernis, Valter Chrintz of IFK Kristianstad and MT Melsungen's Nebojsa Simic will be on chat to Chris O'Reilly about their first European assignments of the season.
We go straight to qualification round 2 in the women's competition, with 12 teams in the mix.
There are some big names featuring today, including the likes of four-time EHF Champions League winners Hypo Niederösterreich, Thüringer HC and Kuban. The 12 teams have been divided into two pots of six.
Hypo Niederösterreich (AUT)
WAT Atzgersdorf (AUT)
Tertnes Bergen (NOR)
LC Brühl Handball (SUI)
IUVENTA Michalovce (SVK)
Lugi Handboll (SWE)
Paris 92 (FRA)
Thüringer HC (GER)
Alba Fehérvár KC (HUN)
Molde HK Elite (NOR)
H.C. Dunarea Braila (ROU)
As the country-protection rule applies, no teams from the same nation can meet at this stage.
In the EHF European League Men, the 30 teams in today's draw have been divided into three geographical zones to limit travel distances and to reduce possible travel restrictions amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
All three zones have two pots with five teams each and this is how they look:
SKA Minsk (BLR)
HC Butel Skopje (MKD)
HC Metalurg (MKD)
AHC Potaissa Turda (ROU)
HC Victor (RUS)
HRK Gorica (CRO)
RK Spacva Vinkovci (CRO)
HEDO-B. Braun Gyöngyös (HUN)
HC Dobrogea Sud Constanta (ROU)
HC CSKA (RUS)
TTH Holstebro (DEN)
MT Melsungen (GER)
ØIF Arendal (NOR)
KS Azoty-Pulawy SA (POL)
HK Malmö (SWE)
Skjern Handbold (DEN)
Haslum Handballklubb (NOR)
IFK Kristianstad (SWE)
RK Dubrava (CRO)
Bidasoa Irun (ESP)
SL Benfica (POR)
RK Trimo Trebnje (SLO)
Pfadi Winterthur (SUI)
PAUC Handball (FRA)
Handball Esch (LUX)
Club de Futebol Os Belenenses (POR)
HC Kriens-Luzern (SUI)
Also, the country-protection rule applies, ensuring two teams from the same nation will not play each other.
Morning all! It's draw day in Vienna and we're less than two hours away from the beginning of a new journey in European club handball.
In total, 51 men's and 34 women's teams will compete for the new-look second-tier title. However, with teams seeded automatically into later rounds, we have 30 men's and 12 women's teams involved in this morning's draw event.
Speaking of a new-look competition. The EHF has just unveiled the new brand for the European League with its orange-coloured logo - an abstract version of the letter 'E', rotating around the sides of a pentagon.
Read all about the competition's imagery, which "symbolises the energy, toughness and intensity that transform from the action on court and the performance of the teams" here.
Welcome to the live blog for Tuesday morning's EHF European League draw event. With 42 teams involved in the two draws being made in Vienna, there is plenty of anticipation and excitement as we cast our attention to this new-look second-tier competition.
Here's your one-stop-shop for all the build-up to the draw, as well as live reporting and immediate reaction as the teams involved discover their first European opponents of the 2020/21 season.