Many changes and a new coach at Bietigheim
Two world champions and the coach left, while three Scandinavian stars, a German ‘home-comer’ and a new coach arrived. With a newly built team, SG BBM Bietigheim hope for their first ever EHF Champions League quarter-final participation.
- the two-time German champions (2016/17 and 2018/19) finished second in the previous Bundesliga season and were awarded a wild card to be part of the DELO WOMEN’S EHF Champions League 2020/21
- new coach Markus Gaugisch succeeded Dane Martin Albertsen, who is now the director of the Swiss women’s youth handball academy and remains the Switzerland women’s national team coach
- For Gaugisch, Bietigheim is the first top women’s team, after coaching the men’s Bundesliga teams Neuhausen and Balingen
- several big names have left Bietigheim, such as the Dutch world champions Angela Malestein (FTC) and Laura van der Heijden (Siófok), and Germany number one goalkeeper Dinah Eckerle (also Siófok)
- the biggest names among the new arrivals are experienced German international Xenia Smits (from Metz), top Norwegian goalkeeper Emily Sando (from Buducnost) and the Danish duo Stine Jörgensen and Trine Östergaard (both from Odense)
- it is the fourth straight Champions League participation for Bietigheim, but they only proceeded to the main round in the 2017/18 season. In 2019/20, Bietigheim collected just two points in the group phase
- the biggest international success was reaching the EHF Cup finals in 2017, where they met Rostov
Main question: Will Bietigheim be able to show a different Champions League face than in the previous seasons?
In their maiden Champions League voyage in 2017/18, debutants Bietigheim made it to the main round, but then failed after the group phase two consecutive times. Several times, the team were hit by severe injuries to key players, and often they could not show their level of international experience.
Now, with the signing of Odense’s top stars Stine Jörgensen and Trine Östergaard and Norwegian goalkeeper Emily Sando, Bietigheim hope to cope with the international standard. As those stars add experience to the squad, the aim of making it to the quarter-finals look possible, despite the strong group. “The main thing is how we manage to cope with the huge number of matches,” says new coach Gaugisch: “But we plan a certain rotation, including some young talents such as Julia Maidhof.”
Under the spotlight: Xenia Smits
The German international with Belgian roots, who played for Metz for five years, is the most important player in Gaugisch’s system. “She is a sniper and playmaker in attack, and one of the strongest European players in defence. Xenia can and will play so many roles in our team next year,” says the new coach.
Usually playing on left back, the powerful 26-year-old can also play as centre and can defend in the middle block. After shoulder surgery, Smits was just about to come back to old form when the 2019/20 season ended due to corona.
How they rate themselves
After being awarded an upgrade to the DELO WOMEN’S EHF Champions League 2020/21, team manager Torsten Nick hopes for “one or two surprises in the group phase. But finally, we want to knock at the door to the quarter-finals for the first time ever.”
For team captain Kim Naidzinavicius, the new season brings the chance for “top duels against some of the best teams in Europe. We have a good team and excellent team spirit. We will be prepared.”
Mainly, Naidzinavicius is looking forward to facing FTC, because then Bietigheim will meet their former players Angela Malestein and Julia Behnke.
Did you know?
Besides Champions League participants SG BBM Bietigheim, Gaugisch coaches a second handball team, together with another famous coach: Axel Kromer, former assistant of German men’s national team coach Dagur Sigurdsson and now sports director of the German Handball Federation. The two coach their 12-year-old sons, Kalle and Julian, who play together in the Spvgg Mössingen youth team.
What the numbers say
Not one of the seven players who left SG BBM Bietigheim before this season joined another German club. Three went to Hungary, two to France, one to Romania and one (Maura Visser) retired. And only two talents – Nele Reimer and Julia Maidhof – arrived from German sides.
Newcomers and left the club
Newcomers: Xenia Smits (Metz Handball), Stine Jørgensen (Odense Håndbold), Trine Østergaard (Odense Håndbold), Emily Sando (Buducnost), Nele Reimer (Neckarsulmer Sport-Union), Julia Maidhof (HSG Bensheim-Auerbach)
Left the club: Dinah Eckerle (Siofok), Laura van der Heijden (Siófok), Angela Malestein (FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria), Maren Aardahl (SCM Ramnicu Valcea), Daphne Gautschi (Metz Handball), Fie Woller (Bourg-de-Péage Drôme Handball), Maura Visser (retired)
EHF Champions League:
Participations (including 2020/21 season): 4
Main round (1): 2017/18
Group matches (2): 2018/19, 2019/20
EHF Cup: Runners-up 2016/17, group phase 2018/19
German league: 2 titles (2017, 2019)
German cup: -