Early-season trophy winners lead power ranking
After a long break, Europe’s top clubs have returned to action. With some early-season trophies already won and many national leagues getting underway, we have plenty of evidence to help decide the first power ranking of the new EHF Champions League Men campaign.
10. HC Meshkov Brest
After being eliminated from the Last 16 race last season, the pressure is on Meshkov Brest to get out of their group this season. To do so, the Belarusian side drafted in Stas Skube, who won the title with Vardar in 2019.
There are still details to fix, however, as was highlighted in the SEHA League semi-final against Veszprem, in which they lost 28:24.
9. HBC Nantes
It is hard to know what Nantes are all about just yet as they 2018 finalists only played two friendly games this summer, winning them both against Cesson-Rennes.
Whether Nicolas Tournat can be replaced in the squad will be determined over the season as the line player position will be one to work on the most for Alberto Entrerrios.
8. HC Vardar 1961
Ten players left Vardar this summer and nine arrived, meaning it is back to the drawing board for Stevce Alusevski. The additions of Marko Vujin and Borko Ristovski will provide much-needed experience.
In their first competitive appearance of the season, the 2019 titleholders reached the SEHA League final.
7. FC Porto
The Portuguese side were one of the biggest sensations last season. Whether they can do it again remains to be seen, but Magnus Andersson must still be looking for answers to the usual questions a coach faces in the summer.
One win, one draw and two losses across four friendly games show there is still some work to be done in Porto.
6. MOL-Pick Szeged
Are Szeged ready to take the next step in Europe's premier club competition?
It would seem so. After a quiet summer, only three new players joined the Hungarian side, Juan Carlos Pastor led his players to their two first wins in the Hungarian league, followed by a solid 10-goal victory against Zagreb in a friendly.
5. Lomza Vive Kielce
The Polish side delivered the best and the worst during the preparation, going from a nice win against Veszprém to a heavy 35:27 defeat against Füchse Berlin.
There is still some work to be done for Talant Dujshebaev before the first EHF Champions League game of the season in Flensburg.
4. Paris Saint-Germain Handball
Some might say that it looks like the beginning of a new cycle for Paris, who let go of Sander Sagosen and Rodrigo Corrales this summer. But the new version of this PSG looks well-built, having won their first three friendly games, the best preparation before they launch another attempt to claim the title.
3. THW Kiel
THW Kiel only signed one new player for next season, but what a coup. Sander Sagosen, the Norwegian superstar, moved to the north of Germany and his new team seems well-oiled already, with three wins in as many pre-season games.
The Spanish side have been very active on the transfer market this summer, with the arrivals of two of Slovenia’s most talented young players, Blaz Janc and Domen Makuc.
The rejuvenated Barça team has already found their rhythm with two trophies won in the early days of September. First, the Catalan Super Cup against Granollers, 32:25, before the Spanish Super Cup against Benidorm, 38:18.
1. Telekom Veszprém HC
Four official games, four wins and already one trophy in the bag, Veszprém could not have started the season any better. With Petar Nenadic on top form, the Hungarian side did not leave anything to chance against Vardar in the SEHA League final, beating them 35:27, just two days after defeating Meshkov Brest in the semi-final.
Spanish recruits Jorge Maqueda and Rodrigo Corrales are in top form already, which bodes well for their opening games in Europe’s top flight.