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EHF Champions League

Five takeaways from a seducing round

EHF / Adrian Costeiu

It was an action-packed round 2 in the group phase of the DELO EHF Champions League last weekend, which saw Brest set a new record, three teams preserving their 100 percent record, but also some surprises sprung that saw powerhouses like Rostov or Buducnost fail to win.

Here are five talking points after round 2:

Brest and Györ rekindle attacking rivalry

Last season, Györ and Brest established themselves as attacking powerhouses, scoring at free will against their opponents. While the Hungarian side had 390 goals in 12 games, Brest followed suit close behind, with 382 goals, despite their mutual encounters only rendering 54 and 57 goals respectively in the main round.

While there were changes in both squads, with players leaving and others being ushered in, both Györ and Brest, who share group B, continued the trend this season. After the first two rounds, they have the best two attacks in the competition, with Györ leading the way with 70 goals. Brest are again close with 69.

The Hungarian side had a 43-goal outing against Podravka Vegeta this weekend, only three short of their record in the competition - the 46 goals from last season’s game against Banik Most. Brest put 41 past BV Borussia 09 Dortmund, their largest number of goals in a single game in the competition. The two sides will meet in Brest next Sunday, in a match that could set the tone in the battle for the top-two spots.

Back on the court

Montenegrin right wing Radmila Petrovic was instrumental in helping Buducnost win their two EHF Champions League trophies, in 2011/12 and 2014/15. In 2016 she called it a career and swapped the playing court of a place in the executive office, serving as the club president for the past two years.

Yet an unprecedented crisis saw Petrovic go back on the court to try to help her team avoid losing precious points, as several key players, including Milena Raicevic and Tatiana Brnovic, were out for the first two matches.

It did not take long to see that Petrovic still has it, scoring three times in the first two games, including a stunner against CSKA last weekend. However, the 32-year-old right wing could not prevent Buducnost’s worst EHF Champions League start in the past 10 years, with two losses from two games. Next up is a trip to Odense Håndbold, who have won both their games so far.

Three teams still at 100 percent

The format of the DELO EHF Champions League was changed this summer, with two groups of eight teams providing more adrenaline and an intense experience for all teams. Therefore, it is no surprise that only three teams have a 100 percent winning record after the first two rounds: CSM Bucuresti, Odense Håndbold and Brest Bretagne Handball.

For the first time in the last five seasons, CSM Bucuresti started the season with two wins, a testament to them not changing the coach and keeping the core of the team intact. Sure, the Romanian powerhouse needed a last-gasp goal from Cristina Neagu to clinch the 30:29 win against Team Esbjerg. But the last time CSM started two out of two, they won the trophy.

Brest looked their confident selves once again, but Odense are the surprise side into the perfect teams tier in this start of the season. In just their second participation in the European premium competition, the Danish side won their first two games, tying their best run in the DELO EHF Champions League, including a dominating 30:21 away win against SCM Ramnicu Valcea on Saturday.

On the other hand, usual title challengers like Györ and Rostov have both dropped point: Györ last week against CSKA, Rostov on Saturday against Krim , conceding the final goal with only one second to go (23:23).

We have a lift-off

Brest Bretagne Handball enjoyed a comprehensive win against BV Borussia 09 Dortmund, 41:29, but they also had a bit of fun, while piling on the pressure on the German defence.

Dortmund are still winless after the club’s first two matches in the DELO EHF Champions League, and they need to strengthen up and learn to stop goals such as the one scored by right wing Pauline Coatanea, who converted a superb assist from Ana Gros.

The story behind the picture

You could be fooled that this is only a picture of the current top goal scorer in the DELO EHF Champions League. And maybe it is. But there is something behind the story of this picture. A handball player.

CSM’s back, Gabriela Perianu, is an avid photographer and likes to take shots of landscapes or just portraits of her teammates. Like she did with Cristina Neagu, who scored 10 times against Team Esbjerg on Sunday to raise her total for the season to 22 from just two games.

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