DAY REVIEW 1: Three German teams start group matches with wins
The EHF European League Men is back, as 18 teams starred in the first clashes of the group matches on Tuesday. Füchse Berlin got their title defence off to a shaky start, only securing a 24:22 home win over Chambéry Savoie Mont Blanc Handball in the closing minutes. Two other German contenders, Rhein-Neckar Löwen and TSV Hannover-Burgdorf, also had a winning start to their group matches campaign.
Elsewhere, RK Gorenje Velenje and Bjerringbro-Silkeborg had a perfect start at home with convincing wins. In their first group match appearance, Górnik Zabrze beat AEK Athens HC, but HC Lovcen-Cetinje returned to the European competitions with a defeat against Elverum Handball.
From the Top 5 Matches
Velenje scored their third win ever against Pfadi. After a well-balanced first 15 minutes of the game, the Slovenian side took the best of Matevz Skok's saves and with the help of Tilen Sokolic and Ibrahim Haseljic made a three-goal lead. From that point, Winterthur's attack slowly faltered, converting only 57 per cent of shots until the end of the game, with only left wing Noam Leopold up for the task. Velenje were close to hitting a double-digit lead 10 minutes before the final buzzer but their fans left 'Rdeca Dvorana' happy with a 34:26 win.
After missing out on the 2022/23 season, Bjerringbro-Silkeborg returned to the second-tier competition in style. The Danish side had a strong start and remained in front throughout the game. Goalkeeper Kristóf Laszlo Palasics gave La Rioja a push but they could not keep up with their more experienced opponents. From trailing by one (18:17) to seven (24:17) following a 6:0 run by Bjerringbro-Silkeborg, it was a done deal for La Rioja. The Danish side cruised to the 34:25 win, with Rasmus Lauge scoring four times in his first European match back at his home club.
We knew they are a very fast team that finishes attacks quickly. Technically, we played this game well, we came back well and brought the game to an end in a disciplined manner. We celebrated thanks to a good defence and good execution today on our home court.
I am very satisfied with how we played. It was my first game in a European group phase, and it was great fun. All victories are important, but this was very important; it was really nice to have a great start in the group matches.
In case you missed it...
- Taras Minotskyi's eight goals and Kacper Ligarzewski's 12 saves lifted Górnik Zabrze past AEK Athens in a 30:21 win
- in a goalkeeper battle, with Victor Kireev's 13 and Harun Hodzic's 12 saves, Füchse Berlin secured a 24:22 win in the last minutes
- it took some time for Elverum to start their engines but with a great offensive performance by Tobias Grøndahl, the Norwegian side had no problem against Lovcen Cetinje, winning 37:25
- Rhein-Neckar Löwen was successful away in Sweden, beating IFK Kristianstad 26:20 with the help of goalkeeper David Späth, who counted 17 saves at 46 per cent save efficiency
- CSM Constanta showed their skills again after sending last year's runners up Granollers home in the qualification round; a strong first half performance and defensive display gave them a good start against MOL Tatabánya and a 29:24 win
- just like in the qualification round, Vinícios Carvalho led Braga to the win, scoring eight times in a 34:26 win against Považská Bystrica from Slovakia
- eight goals by Andy Schmid were not enough for Kriens-Luzern, who went down 31:23 against Hannover Burgdorf
- see all results from round 1 of the group matches here
It was a really tough and hard game, it was maybe the biggest struggle we had in this young season. We are not satisfied with how we played today, but we got two points and this is what matters in professional sports at the end of the game.
main photo (c) Sylvia Göres / Füchse Berlin