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EHF European League

Benfica set to strive towards new heights

EHF / Tiago Nogueira

SL Benfica will compete in the group phase of the EHF European League Men for the first time. When “The Eagles” competed in the EHF Cup group phase in 2019/20, they shone against opponents such as MT Melsungen and Bjerringbro-Silkeborg, a sign of what they are capable of.

Benfica will play in group B, where HBC Nantes will be one of their opponents, current home of Portuguese internationals Alexandre Cavalcanti, a former Benfica player, and Pedro Portela.

Main facts:

  • beat HC Kriens-Luzern and Rhein-Neckar Löwen in qualification
  • SL Benfica took third place in the Portuguese league last season
  • former Montpellier and FC Porto line player Alexis Borges is the club’s biggest addition
  • other big summer signings include Rogerio Moraes and Jonas Källman

Most important question: Will SL Benfica be able to shine?

SL Benfica are playing a very exciting brand of handball, which was demonstrated by the 64 goals that they scored in two matches against Rhein-Neckar Löwen, and they look capable of causing more upsets this season.

With Chema Rodriguez at the helm as coach and a squad full of talent, the Portuguese team have many cards to play against the tough opponents that await in group B.

Coach Rodriguez has demonstrated his confidence in the squad, but he is aware that bigger tests are on the horizon. He said: “The goals of the team are to go as far as possible in the competition. We have a tough group.”

Missing out on the group phase last season reminded everyone at Benfica of the significance of playing in Europe and team captain Paulo Moreno wants his side to make a prolonged run in the EHF European League: “This year we secured our presence in the group stage of EHF European League, so we want to make history.”

Under the spotlight: Petar Djordjic

Petar Djordjic is already having a special season. The left back scored 25 goals in four qualification matches. He has an impressive shot, has scored incredible goals and poses a threat to any defence.

It is noteworthy that he scored 15 goals against Rhein-Neckar Löwen. He has a great mindset and is a fundamental part of the Benfica team.

How they rate themselves

Benfica undoubtedly have high ambitions. Victory over Rhein-Neckar Löwen in qualification round 2 has provided the team with renewed confidence that they can succeed against some of Europe’s best clubs.

Paulo Moreno said: “We eliminated a great team like Rhein-Neckar Löwen, but other great teams remain in the competition. Our job is to give our best and when playing well, we can beat any team.”

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Did you know?

SL Benfica have not been Portuguese champions since 2007/2008, which is a long time for a club of this size. Arguably, the main objective should always be to win a trophy that has not been won for over a decade, but the possibility of European glory cannot be set aside.

What the numbers say

Benfica have won five games, drawn one and lost one so far this season. Benfica’s sole defeat came against FC Porto in the Portuguese super cup.

Arrivals and departures

Arrivals: Demis Grigoras (Chambery Savoie Mont Blanc Handball), Rogerio Moraes (Telekom Veszprém HC), Alexis Borges (Montpellier HB), Tadej Kljun (RK Celje Pivovarna Laško) and Jonas Källman (Pick Szeged)

Departures: Joao Pais (retired), Matic Suholeznik (RK Celje Pivovarna Laško), Alix Kevynn Nyokas (HC Vardar 1961) and Pedro Loureiro (without club)

Past achievements

EHF Champions League:
Qualification (1): 2008/09

EHF Cup:
Group phase (2): 2016/17, 2019/20*

Cup Winners’ Cup:
Quarter-finals (1): 2011/2

Challenge Cup:
Runners-up (2): 2010/11, 2015/16
Semi-finals (2): 2007/08, 2014/15

Portuguese league: 7 titles (1961/62, 1974/75, 1981/82, 1982/83, 1988/89, 1989/90, 2007/08)
Portuguese cup: 6 titles (1984/85, 1985/86, 1986/87, 2010/11, 2015/16, 2017/18)
Portuguese super cup: 6 titles (1989, 1993, 2010, 2012, 2016)

*The EHF Cup was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic

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