Lucky number 13 for SC Magdeburg?
Lucky number 13 for SC Magdeburg?
In contrast to the 2018/19 season, when they were sensationally eliminated by FC Porto as early as the qualification stage, SC Magdeburg had no problems reaching the group phase of the EHF Cup this time around. As usual, the goals for the former Champions League and EHF Cup winners are high – to go all the way to the EHF Cup Finals in Berlin.
Three questions before the Men’s EHF Cup group phase:
- Are Magdeburg strong enough this season?
Before this season, many players left, and many players arrived. Therefore, the first half of the Bundesliga season was something like a rollercoaster ride for coach Bennet Wiegert’s team.
Right before the EHF EURO 2020, Marko Bezjak and Albin Lagergren were injured. Many other players, such as medallists Zeljko Musa (silver with Croatia) or Christian O’Sullivan (bronze with Norway), had a demanding European championship. This might have an impact.
Even more, the tough group phase opponents, such as Champions League 2017/18 finalists Nantes, former Cup Winners’ Cup winners Leon and Velenje (Slovenia), do not make the way to Berlin easier.
- Can international experience be the key?
Magdeburg are playing their 13th EHF Cup season since 1998. They were finalists in the old format four times, and won the trophy three times (1999, 2001, 2007). In the new format, they qualified for the EHF Cup Finals twice (2017, 2018), but missed the trophy matches on both occasions.
Now, they hope to use this long period of international experience to make it to the finals again.
- Will the change of goalkeepers have an impact?
Before this season, Dario Quenstedt – a local hero in Magdeburg – said goodbye and joined THW Kiel, to fill the footprints of Andreas Wolff (now Kielce). SC Magdeburg signed young Swedish goalkeeper talent Tobias Thulin, thanks to the contacts of their Swedish goalkeeper coach Tobias Svensson.
24-year-old Thulin arrived from Gothenburg and is supposed to learn from Magdeburg’s number one, Danish Olympic and world champion Jannick Green. But Thulin needs some time to be on the same level as Quenstedt was before.
Under the spotlight: Gisli Thorgeir Kristjansson
The 20-year-old Icelandic playmaker came to Magdeburg at the end of January, when it was clear that Slovenian SCM mastermind Marko Bezjak would miss the next weeks or months due to a shoulder injury. Despite a contract at THW Kiel until 2021, Kristjansson was allowed to transfer to Magdeburg.
Since his arrival in Kiel, Kristjansson could not play as much as he had wanted. He was also ruled out by two shoulder injuries within eight months and therefore had to miss the EHF EURO 2020. Now – due to the contact of his former THW coach and former SCM coach Alfred Gislason – the Icelander has a fresh beginning at a new club.
“We were drawn in the toughest of all groups,” says Steffen Stiebler, sports director of SCM. “We need to win all home matches, then we have to see what is possible in the away games.”
Since the implementation of the new EHF Cup format in 2012, at least one former EHF Champions League winner was part of the group phase. This season, SC Magdeburg play this role again, after they were the first German club to ever win the top trophy, in 2002.
Magdeburg face the only other Champions League finalists playing the EHF Cup group phase (Nantes/2018) in this stage.
What the numbers say:
Players from 10 nations are part of Magdeburg’s squad: Germany, Sweden, Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Croatia, Slovenia, North Macedonia, Poland, Slovenia.
SC Magdeburg (GER)
Qualified for Men’s EHF Cup group phase: 74:51 vs Górnik Zabrze (POL) in R3
Newcomers: Filip Kuzmanovski (Eurofarm Rabotnik/MKD), Tobias Thulin (Redbergslids IK/SWE), Tim Hornke (TBV Lemgo-Lippe/GER), Christoph Steinert (HC Erlangen/GER), Moritz Preuss (VfL Gummersbach/GER), Erik Schmidt (Füchse Berlin/GER), Gisli Thorgeir Kristjansson (THW Kiel/GER)
Left the club: Robert Weber (HSG Nordhorn-Lingen), Dario Quenstedt (THW Kiel), Mads Christiansen (Aalborg), Carlos Molina (Benfica Lissabon), Gleb Kalarash (HC Vardar), Juan Munoz de la Pena (HBW Balingen-Weilstetten)
Coach: Bennet Wiegert (since December 2015)
Team captain: Christian O’Sullivan
European cup records:
Winners (3): 1998/99, 2000/01, 2006/07
Runners-up (1): 2004/05
Semi-finalists (3): 2011/12, 2016/17, 2017/18
Quarter-finalists (2): 2012/13, 2015/16
Last 16 (2): 1999/00, 2008/09
EHF Cup Winners’ Cup:
Semi-finalists (1): 1996/97
Quarter-finalists (1): 2007/08
Champions Cup (forerunner of Champions League):
Winners (2): 1977/78, 1980/81
EHF Champions Trophy:
Winners (3): 1980/81, 2000/01, 2001/02
Runners-up (2): 1998/99, 2004/05
Semi-finalists (1): 2006/07
German league: (11): 2001 (GDR league: 1970, 1977, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1988, 1991)
German Cup: (7): 1996, 2016 (GDR Cup: 1970, 1977, 1978, 1984, 1990)