20191019 Csmbucuresti Pintea (1)
EHF Champions League

CSM Bucuresti going for gold

EHF / Adrian Costeiu

CSM Bucuresti detonated one of the biggest bombshells in the history of the DELO EHF Champions League when they took the title in 2016. However, they were not able to build upon that success, as their coaching carousel, mounting injuries and ineffective transfers did not help consistency.

However, CSM made only a few changes in the side that progressed to the quarter-final phase last season, focusing on experience and improving key aspects. Will it be enough?

Main facts:

  • the Romanian powerhouse will take part in the premium European competition for the sixth season in a row
  • CSM have made it to the quarter-final phase of the competition every season they took part in
  • after changing 11 coaches in the past five years, CSM have settled on Romanian mastermind Adrian Vasile, who served as an assistant coach between 2014 and 2019
  • the squad is comprised of eight different nationalities: Romanian, Croatian, Serbian, Slovenian, Montenegrin, French, Spanish
  • the Romanian side still rely on experienced players, ushering in the likes of Siraba Dembele and Alexandrina Cabral Barbosa this season

Most important question: How will CSM cope with the lack of games played during the last months?

It is undeniable that CSM have a lot of firepower, experience and strength and are one of the big favourites for this edition, despite underperforming in the past two seasons. Yet there is still a question that lingers and one that will definitely impact CSM’s fortunes: how will the Romanian side cope without playing any games – neither official nor friendly – over the past six months?

For a team that battled through a plethora of injuries in the past two seasons, the Romanian side will need to take a step-by-step approach, as handball games were impossible to host in Romania in the last five months. Therefore, when CSM resume action, they will need to tread carefully to prevent any long-term injuries.

Under the spotlight: Cristina Neagu

Now 32, Neagu is slowly reaching the zenith of her star-studded career and her sights are only focused on one thing: winning her second DELO EHF Champions League trophy. After a devastating knee injury, the CSM left back enjoyed a perfect comeback last season, before the season was ground to a halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But Neagu vowed to be back even stronger this season. The seventh top scorer in the entire history of the competition, with 685 goals in 11 seasons, is both the captain of the Romanian side and their leader on and off the court.

How they rate themselves

CSM were always aiming high, after winning the EHF Champions League in their first season in the competition. Yet ever since, it always looked like something was missing – motivation, team spirit or injuries derailed each and every season over the past four years. But now, in an atypical situation, CSM could spring another surprise if they do things the way they are supposed to.

“Taking into consideration the fact that I played only four months and a half in the last year [due to injury and coronavirus], my biggest motivation is playing the game I love. I will try to stay healthy and give the best for my team to achieve our targets,” said Neagu, who can single-handedly deliver wins when in her best form.

However, the new team manager, Remus Draganescu, one of the most experienced managers in Romanian handball, is aiming higher: “CSM Bucharest is a club that always aims for the gold. Thus, our women’s team also aims for maximum performance in the EHF Champions League,” he said.

Did you know?

CSM have earned three DELO EHF FINAL4 berths in their history, while the other seven teams in the group combine for four in total: Rostov with two, Metz and Vipers Kristiansand with one each.

What the numbers say

CSM won 40 games in their first five DELO Women’s EHF Champions League seasons. Only Vardar (55) won more games in that timespan.

Newcomers and left the club

Newcomers: Siraba Dembele (Toulon Saint-Cyr Var Handball), Alexandrina Cabral Barbosa (Nantes Atlantique Handball), Martine Smeets (Metz Handball), Barbara Lazovic (Buducnost)

Left the club: Andrea Lekic (Buducnost), Itana Grbic (Buducnost), Nora Mørk (Vipers Kristiansand), Mădălina Ion (U Cluj), Bianca Marin (CS Măgura Cisnădie), Linnea Torstensson (retired), Iulia Curea (retired)

Past achievements

- EHF Champions League:

Participations (including 2020/21 season): six
Winners (1): 2015/2016
Semi-finals (2): 2016/17, 2017/18
Quarter-finals (2): 2018/19, 2019/20

- Other:

Romanian league: 4 titles (2015, 2016, 2017, 2018)
Romanian Cup: 4 titles (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019)

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