EHF European Cup

Logroño La Rioja hope for positive return to the EHF Cup

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Logroño La Rioja hope for positive return to the EHF Cup

BM Logroño La Rioja might not feature in the VELUX EHF Champions League this season, after being surpassed by Abanca Ademar Leon domestically, but they still have a chance in the Men’s EHF Cup.

The club has had a tricky couple of years. In summer 2017 they lost their main sponsor, and since then have seen a high turnover of players. Nevertheless they are still in the top five of the ASOBAL League at home, and have secured a place in the EHF Cup Group Phase.

The current season is the first for Miguel Angel Velasco as head coach. Velasco succeeded Jesus Javier “Jota” Gonzalez, who moved to Paris Saint-Germain as assistant coach.

Velasco’s promotion followed six seasons as a player for Logroño and four as assistant coach. He picked retiring player Ruben Garabaya as his assistant after becoming head coach.

Realistic goals

With a number of changes in the team, Logroño is aiming primarily to be competitive both domestically and in the EHF Cup. Reaching the group phase is already a better result in the latter competition, after the team was knocked out in the third round of qualification last year.

Their EHF Cup Group Phase place was secured by outgoing captain Gurutz Aginagalde, who saved a goal in the last second. The save was even more special as it was Aginagalde’s last match before leaving to become president of Bidasoa Irun.

Logroño will face defending champions Füchse Berlin and last year’s runners-up Saint-Raphael Var Handball as well as Balatonfüredi KSE in Group A.

“We weren’t lucky, we know all teams are hard in the EHF Cup, but we will play against the two teams who played the EHF Cup Final last year. They’re still in good shape and one step in front compared with others,” says Velasco.

“We will try to surprise these teams at home, with our fans, and make things difficult in the matches we play away. It’s really hard to think about the quarter-finals because you must beat one of the favourites, Füchse Berlin and Saint Raphael, and they are also favourites to win the title,” explains the coach. 

Velasco will not be drawn on which teams he thinks will progress.

“It’s like in the Champions League, seven or eight teams have real chances to be in the finals,” he says.

BM Logroño La Rioja (ESP)

Qualification for the Men’s EHF Cup Group Phase 2018/19: Round 3: 50:50 aggregate win against Kadetten Schaffhausen after scoring more away goals.

Newcomers: Vanja Ilic (Metalurg), Erik Balenciaga (Helvetia Anaitasuna), James Scott Junior (HBC Nantes), Balint Fekete (MOL Pick Szeged), Tomas Moreira Rodríguez (Angel Ximenez Avia Puente Genil), Sergey Hernandez Ferrer (Helvetia Anaitasuna), Claudio Ramos (Centro Deportico Cerro Pelado)

Left the club: Jakub Krupa (CSM Bucuresti), Angel Fernandez Perez (PGE Vive Kielce), Pablo Paredes (Quabit Guadalajara), Juan Castro (Angel Ximenez Avia Puente Genil), Angel Montoro (Liberbank Cuenca), Ruben Garabaya (retired), Gurutz Aginagalde (retired)

Coach: Miguel Angel Velasco (since 2018)

Team captain: Miguel Sánchez Migallón

EHF Cup records:
Semi-finals (1): 2009/19
Quarter-finals (1): 2010/11
Group phase (1): 2012/13
Qualification Round 3 (1): 2017/18

Other European Cup records:

VELUX EHF Champions League:
Last 16 (1): 2014/15
Group phase (3): 2013/14, 2015/16, 2016/17

Spanish league: 0 titles

Spanish cup: 0 titles

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