Denmark: something to think aboutArticle
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Read the analysis of Danish correspondent, Peter Bruun, on the Danish season in the women's Champions League.

Denmark: something to think about 

Not even the games of the Danish rivals brought much excitement“There is something rotten in the state of Denmark!” These immortal words were uttered by Prince Hamlet of Denmark in William Shakespeare’s play. And while it may be exaggerated to say so about women’s handball in Hamlet’s county, it is a fact that Danish women’s handball is suffering from a ‘headache’ at the moment.

After the national team failed to qualify for last year’s World Championship – accordingly also for the Olympics in Beijing – both remaining Danish teams in the Champions League were eliminated in the Main Round of the tournament that Denmark won in the previous four years.

Slagelse without a chance

Neither Viborg HK, nor Slagelse DT – the CL winners from 2006 and 2007 – were able to reach more than the Main Round. It means that the semi-finals will be without Danish teams for the first time in five years.

It was a rare occasion for Slagelse to celebrate this seasonIn Slagelse’s case, it really did not come as a surprise that the Danish champions, who won the CL three times in the past four years, were not able to repeat the triumph. The injuries and all the players leaving were too much for the title holders. Already before the start of the Main Round it seemed unrealistic for the once so proud and ambitious team to be able to qualify for the semi-finals.

The outcome is well known and we do not have to dwell on it for long. Slagelse ended last in Group 2 without a single point. As a matter of fact, this may have been the last time we could watch Slagelse in the Champions League for a long time – maybe for ever.

As has reported before, head coach Anja Andersen will leave for Danish rivals, FCK Håndbold, after this season. 10 of her players will follow her. At present, Slagelse are trying to build a new team with new coaches, new sponsors and new players. Only time can tell what the club can come up with.

Huge disappointment in Viborg

Ryde will leave the club with a CL title and a disappointing last CL seasonWhile no one could really expect much more from Slagelse, the situation was somewhat different in Viborg. With the probably strongest squad in the club’s history, the Central Jutland club were aiming to win the Champions League. However, the many stars in the team never really got to function together as a unit.

Injury was part of the problem. Viborg were not as dominant as expected during the first group stage. As majority of the players returned for the Main Round, it does definitely not explain why Viborg did not manage to go on in the tournament.

Head coach, Tomas Ryde, has been criticised by the media and others for being too passive and not being able to inspire the players enough. Without passing a judgement over the coach, Viborg will get a chance for a fresh start now as Ryde will leave at the end of the season to return home to Sweden.

His successor has not yet been appointed, but whoever he may be, he is in for a challenge making the many individualists in Viborg work together as a team.

Viborg are still favourites to win the Danish championship this year and thereby to take one of the two places Denmark will have in the Champions League next season. This will give them a chance to improve.

However, it is not only the Champions League that Danish women’s handball caused disappointment: the league that many people like to characterise as the strongest women’s league in the world is only represented by one single team in the semi-finals of all European Cup competitions: Ikast-Bording EH in the EHF Cup.

They have certainly got something to think about in Denmark.

TEXT: Peter Bruun