Can Magdeburg find their killer instinct?
SC Magdeburg are always worth turning in to watch. With an attractive brand of handball, coupled with their ability to beat the best teams around one day, then crash and burn against underdogs the next, they are an ideal fit for the revamped and bolstered EHF European League.
Magdeburg open our series of countdown stories on all EHF European League Men group phase contenders.
- 2002 EHF Champions League winners primed for another assault on Europe’s second tier
- reached the 2017 and 2018 EHF Cup Finals
- three-time champions of the EHF Cup
- threadbare squad at the moment due to injuries coupled with five players leaving over the summer and only two arriving
The burning question – do Magdeburg have the killer instinct at this level?
Magdeburg have long been considered serious contenders at this level but have routinely fallen short in recent years.
In 2017, they lost the semi-final to EHF Cup Finals hosts and eventual winners Frisch Auf Göppingen, a surprise but not a disaster.
The following year was a disaster, however, as they went into the final tournament as hosts and favourites, only to be beaten in the semi-final by Saint-Raphaël Var.
It would be unfair to call Magdeburg bottlers, seeing as they won the German cup in 2016, but their killer instinct has been lacking in recent seasons.
Whether it be the Bundesliga or in Europe, the German club look capable of beating any team on their day but have yet to show up and be counted when titles are on the line.
The squad has enough players with medal winning experience to know how its done and the core of the team has remained together under coach Bennet Wiegert for long enough now to expect that something big is on the way.
Gamechanger – Michael Damgaard
When Michael Damgaard catches fire, there is very little that can be done about it. One of the best streak players in Europe, the 2016 Olympic champion is always fascinating to watch on court.
There are times when the 30-year-old can disappear, but when he gets going, he is unstoppable and is likely to be the man to turn tight matches on its head and help Magdeburg make a splash in Europe this season.
Cool head – Christian O’Sullivan
There are few players deemed more trustworthy with a ball in their hand than this man. You can always rely on O’Sullivan to make the right moves and passes in pressure situations and he knows just how to bring out the best in Damgaard.
The Norwegian playmaker knows what he is good at and he sticks to it, a tough defender, brilliant at transition attack and smart in the playmaker role, he is a man any coach would love to have in their team.
New blood – Omar Ingi Magnusson
Produced by the impressive Icelandic talent factory in Selfoss, Omar Ingi Magnusson has already built a reputation for himself at the age of 23, accruing almost a half-century of appearances for Iceland already and joins from EHF Champions League participants Aalborg.
With Albin Lagergren leaving for Löwen and Kay Smits returning to Denmark, Magdeburg’s right back spot is there for the taking. Coach Bennet Wiegert has proven himself a wise collector of the right talent for his team and you feel that this could be the beginning of a long and happy relationship.
A night to remember – magic of Magdeburg
On 27 April 2002, SC Magdeburg made history by becoming the first German side to win the EHF Champions League.
In those heady days, Magdeburg were led by Alfred Gislason as coach and had the likes of Stefan Kretschmar, Ólafur Stefánsson and Joel Abati in a star-studded squad.
The first leg in Veszprém was a rollercoaster ride in which Magdeburg rallied twice to give themselves a manageable two-goal deficit for the second leg. That second leg was an entirely different affair as the home side raced into a 15:10 lead, grabbing the tie by the scruff of the neck.
Veszprém threatened with a brief comeback, but nothing could stop Magdeburg on the night as they claimed a 30:25 win, 51:48 on aggregate, sending a packed Bördelandhalle wild as they celebrated winning the title and breaking the Spanish stranglehold on the top flight.
Arrivals and departures
Newcomers: Ómar Ingi Magnússon (Aalborg Håndbold), Magnus Gullerud (GWD Minden)
Left the club: Lukas Diedrich (TUSEM Essen), Filip Kuzmanovski (TSV Hannover-Burgdorf), Albin Lagergren (Rhein-Neckar Löwen), Kay Smits (end of loan - TTH Holstebro), Erik Schmidt (Kadetten Schaffhausen)
European cup records
EHF Champions League:
Winners (1): 2001/02
Winners (3): 1998/99, 2000/01, 2006/07
Runners-up (1): 2004/05
Semi-finalists (3): 2011/12, 2016/17, 2017/18
Quarter-finalists (2): 2012/13, 2015/16
Last 16 (2): 1999/00, 2008/09
EHF Cup Winners’ Cup:
Semi-finalists (1): 1996/97
Champions Cup (forerunner of EHF Champions League):
Winners (2): 1977/78, 1980/81
EHF Champions Trophy:
Winners (3): 1980/81, 2000/01, 2001/02
Runners-up (2): 1998/99, 2004/05
Semi-finalists (1): 2006/07
German league: (11): 2001 (GDR league: 1970, 1977, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1988, 1991)
German Cup: (7): 1996, 2016 (GDR Cup: 1970, 1977, 1978, 1984, 1990)