Six takeaways from the eventful round 3
Five games were on the schedule of the DELO EHF Champions League this weekend and there was plenty of drama.
Debutants CSKA adding two more points and BV Dortmund 09 Dortmund getting their first win stood out on Saturday, while Györi Audi ETO KC snatched a draw against Brest Bretagne Handball in Match of the Week, and Odense Håndbold enjoyed their third straight win on Sunday.
So, let’s get to the point and talk handball once again.
Odense record dream start
Maybe the most pleasant surprise this season in the DELO EHF Champions League is Odense Håndbold. A Danish team has not progressed to the business end of the competition in Budapest since FC Midtjylland in the maiden DELO EHF FINAL 4 in 2013/14.
But Odense can rewrite history, if they stay true to their selves and proceed to play in the same way they have thrown off the season.
In only their second season in the European premium competition, Ulrik Kirkely’s side have already established their best-ever winning streak, three games in a row.
Against BV Borussia 09 Dortmund, SCM Ramnicu Valcea and Buducnost, Odense built a goal difference of +23, establishing themselves as a tough nut to crack as they constantly find new ways to win big.
If their big Dutch trio – Lois Abbingh, Nycke Groot and Tess Wester – are not at 100 percent, there are other players who pick up the slack. Brazilian right wing Jessica da Silva Quintino did exactly just that on Sunday, when she scored eight goals against Buducnost in Odense’s compelling 30:21 win.
Odense’s mettle will surely be tested when the DELO EHF Champions League resumes in two weeks’ time, as the Danish side travel to Groot’s former club Györ, yet the future looks bright for them... with lots more bouncing on the walls in prospect.
Brest test Györ once again
With eight minutes to go in the second half against Brest, Györ’s unbeaten streak looked to be over. The French side were up by five, 24:19, yet they still lacked the cutting edge to win both points.
Györ conceded only one more goal in the closing minutes of the game to salvage a draw, 25:25, their second in three games this season. The Hungarian side extended their unbeaten streak to 40 matches but the reckoning is still looming.
With three games played in the past two seasons between the two sides, Brest have never won against Györ, yet they drew two times, with the other game being a one-goal loss, 29:28. If they needed another confirmation, this was it.
The French side is the real deal, boasting a superb attack, a stout defence when needed and enough experience for going deep into the season. In their past 15 games in the European premium competition, Brest have won 12 times, drew two – both against Györ – and lost only one, as their resume for a DELO EHF FINAL 4 berth looks bulletproof up until this point.
With a strong back line, bringing both power from Ana Gros and creativity from Isabelle Gulldén, the French side will be tough to beat this season.
Gros: Goals galore against Györ, but no victory
Ana Gros knows how to score goals against Györ. But it seems the Slovenian right back just cannot beat her former club in the DELO EHF Champions League.
Gros, who joined Brest Bretagne Handball in the summer of 2018, played two seasons for Györ in the past, from 2010 to 2012.
With Brest, Gros has now played three times against Györ: twice in the main round last season, and again in the Match of the Week on Sunday.
On all three occasions Brest came very close to beating the five-time champions, something no team in the competition has done for 40 matches since January 2018.
After a draw and a one-goal defeat last season, Brest had to settle for a draw again in Sunday’s MOTW - despite leading by five goals (24:19) with less than eight minutes left.
“Last season it was the same, we just cannot manage to win in the end,” Gros said after the game, in which she netted nine times.
“I don’t know what the reason is. Maybe it is a little bit experience, also,” Gros added. “We just have to see what we did wrong, work on that and try to do better next time.”
Gros had already scored 13 goals against Györ in the two matches last season - more than any other Brest player.
Raising her tally to 22 in three matches against the Hungarian powerhouse earned her the award of Player of the Match, presented by DELO.
“I am just sad that we couldn’t win because in front of this amazing public we really deserved to win today,” Gros said. “But it also good that we have at least one point.”
Gros’ next chance to get a win over her former club will be on 23 January 2021, when both teams will face off again.
Dortmund finally draw first blood
There are 42 teams that played at least one game in the DELO EHF Champions League and, after this weekend, all of them recorded a win.
The 2020/21 season features two debutants. CSKA needed two rounds to draw their first success in their column, while Dortmund enjoyed their maiden win last Saturday in a hard-fought game against Podravka - a team that were playing their 139th game in the competition.
Despite their young, inexperienced team, whose players only combined for four seasons in the DELO EHF Champions League prior to the throw-off in September, Dortmund showed that a hungry and motivated side can do wonders.
Their first two losses against Odense and Brest served as a canvas, as the Croatian side had nine technical faults, with Dortmund taking advantage of them and earning a 26:25 win, that could prove crucial in their quest to proceed from the group phase this season.
Magic from Lekic
Buducnost have started the competition with three losses in their first three games, yet their experience and talent should get them back on track.
Especially with more of this from Andrea Lekic. The Serbian playmaker scored six times for the Montenegrin side against Odense, but could not prevent a tough defeat, 30:21. Lekic is now on 18 goals for the season, placing sixth on the top scorer list.
Happy birthday, Duda!
It was a joyful week for Györ, as backs Eduarda Amorim and Stine Bredal Oftedal celebrated their birthdays before the Hungarian side came from the brink of defeat to snatch a draw against Brest. Amorim’s 34th birthday was one to remember, though, with a certain theme, that surely helped build feel-good vibes in the Hungarian side.