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EHF European Cup

Last Men’s EHF Cup group phase ready for action

Peter Bruun / Kevin Domas / cg

Last Men’s EHF Cup group phase ready for action

When the group phase of the Men’s EHF Cup launches this weekend, it will be the last time we see the competition in its current form.

Since the 2012/13 season, the EHF Cup has been played with three qualification rounds and a group phase with 16 teams, followed by quarter-finals and a final tournament.

From 2020/21, the competition will be succeeded by the Euro League – and that give this edition of the group phase something special. 

There are exciting encounters to look forward to in all groups. 

MT Melsungen (GER) vs KPR Gwardia Opole (POL) 
Sunday 9 February, 15:00 CET, live on

  • Melsungen are in the EHF Cup for the third time in history, having made it to the quarter-finals in both previous participations

  • Opole make their debut in the group phase this season, after being eliminated in the third qualification round the two previous years

  • Melsungen had a great last test on Thursday evening, as they defeated another EHF Cup team, Rhein-Neckar Löwen, 33:30 away in the German Bundesliga

  • Opole also enjoyed a win in their domestic league, 28:22 at home against Wybrzeze Gdansk on Wednesday

Bjerringbro-Silkeborg (DEN) vs SL Benfica (POR) 
Sunday 9 February, 15:00 CET, live on

  • Bjerringbro-Silkeborg are back in the EHF Cup after reaching the play-offs in the VELUX EHF Champions League last season

  • Benfica are returning to the group phase, following one previous participation, in the 2016/17 season

  • Benfica’s Danish line player Rene Toft Hansen will be meeting his national teammates Johan Hansen and Nikolaj Oris

  • Bjerringbro-Silkeborg won 32:20 away against Mors Thy Håndbold in the Danish league on Wednesday, the same night Benfica drew 30:30 away versus Gaia in the Portuguese Andebol 1 league

Liberbank Cuenca (ESP) vs TTH Holstebro (DEN)
Sunday 9 February, 12:00 CET, live on

  • the two teams were also in the same group last season. On that occasion, they earned a win each over the two matches

  • Holstebro reached the final tournament and finished fourth last season, while Cuenca bowed out after the group phase

  • during the week, Holstebro farewelled Dutch international Kay Smits, who has been loaned to SC Magdeburg for the rest of the season

  • Holstebro defeated Nordsjælland Håndbold 33:23 at home in the Danish league on Wednesday, while Cuenca drew 26:26 away against Puerto Sagunto in the Spanish Liga Asobal

Rhein-Neckar Löwen (GER) vs USAM Nimes Gard (FRA) 
Sunday 9 February, 17:00 CET, live on

  • the last time Rhein-Neckar Löwen were in the EHF Cup was in the 2012/13 season, when they took the trophy

  • USAM Nimes Gard are debutants in European cup handball this season

  • Nimes won 38:31 at home against Chambery Savoie Handball in the French Lidl Star Ligue on Wednesday

  • on Thursday night, Rhein-Neckar Löwen lost 30:33 at home against EHF Cup colleagues MT Melsungen in the Bundesliga

SC Magdeburg (GER) vs RK Gorenje Velenje (SLO)
Sunday 9 February, 13:00 CET, live on

  • Magdeburg are in the EHF Cup for the fifth time in a row, with two semi-final berths marking their best achievements this far

  • although they have built quite a history in the EHF Champions League over time, Gorenje Velenje are in the EHF Cup group phase for the first time

  • Magdeburg may debut Dutch international Kay Smits, who arrived on loan from Danish side TTH Holstebro during the week

  • both teams drew at home in their national leagues this week – Magdeburg 30:30 versus TSV Hannover-Burgdorf in the Bundesliga and Velenje 23:23 in the top Slovenian flight against reigning champions RK Celje Pivovarna Lasko 

HBC Nantes (FRA) vs Abanca Ademar Leon (ESP) 
Sunday 9 February, 17:00 CET, live on

  • Nantes are back in the EHF Cup after three years in the VELUX EHF Champions League, where a final berth in 2018 was their finest achievement

  • Nantes have been in the final tournament of the EHF Cup twice, in 2013 and 2016, both times finishing as runners-up

  • Ademar Leon won the Cup Winners’ Cup in 2005 – their only European trophy so far

  • Leon are back in the EHF Cup after playing the VELUX EHF Champions League group phase the past two years

  • Nantes won 33:31 at home against Chartres in the Lidl Star Ligue on Wednesday. Ademar had a 27:23 away victory against current VELUX EHF Champions League participants Bidasoa Irun

Grundfos Tatabanya KC (HUN) vs BM Logroño La Rioja (ESP)
Saturday 8 February, 12:00 CET, live on

  • Tatabanya only took part in the EHF Cup group phase twice before. In 2019 and 2017, they qualified for the quarter-finals

  • four Tatabanya players were part of the Pick Szeged team that won the EHF Cup in 2014: Zsolt Balogh, Ferenc Ilyes, Vladimir Vranjes and Gabor Ancsin

  • the two sides faced each other in 2011, in the EHF Cup Last 16. La Rioja qualified for the quarter-finals thanks to a 13-goal home win, before losing by five in Hungary

  • both teams resumed their domestic competitions with a win. Tatabanya are currently third in the Hungarian league, the same position Logroño hold in the Liga Asobal

PAUC Handball (FRA) vs Füchse Berlin (GER)
Sunday 9 February, 19:00 CET, live on

  • this season is the first time French side PAUC have reached the EHF Cup group phase, while Berlin have lifted the trophy twice, in 2015 and 2018

  • PAUC let two players go this winter: goalkeeper Joze Baznik, to fellow French team Nimes, and line player Morten Björnshauge, to Skjern

  • Berlin have had to replace Swedish right wing Mattias Zachrisson, who is out for the rest of the season due to a shoulder injury. They signed Spanish player Javier Munoz Cabezon, from Presov

  • PAUC will have to play without four important players: recent EHF EURO semi-finalist Darko Cingesar, Vid Kavticnik, Baptiste Bonnefond and Matthieu Ong are all suffering injuries

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