Melbeck going back to the rootsArticle
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Buxtehude’s most experienced player will face her former club Randers in their opener of the Women´s EHF Champions League Group Matches

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Melbeck going back to the roots

On Monday, Stefanie Melbeck (35) will return to a well-known place: The German international, playing for German runners-up Buxtehuder SV, will face her former team Randers HK in their opener of the Women’s EHF Champions League Group Matches. Despite some injury problems in her team – Lamein, Techert, Bülau and Langkeit will have to be replaced, Melbeck is excited before the start. Did you expect to make your way to the Women’s EHF Champions League again?
Stefanie Melbeck: We had not been the favourite in our qualification tournament at Trondheim, as the host was supposed to be stronger. But maybe it was our advantage in the final that we really played a very bad semi against Dalfsen – so we were underestimated by the Norwegians. And then we showed a really strong performance against Byåsen. Now the Group Matches are starting – how is your anticipation for the Women’s EHF Champions League?
Stefanie Melbeck: It is a great feeling. Though I played for a long-term in Denmark and Germany on top level and played ten previous seasons in European Cup competitions, this is only my second season in the Women’s EHF Champions League after we had qualified last season with Buxtehude. We learnt so much in this competition, and by facing the best European teams we developed much more than we would have done only in the German Bundesliga. So especially our younger players will have a great impetus by playing this competition.  In the past season Buxtehude did not win any point in the Champions League – how do you rate the chances to end this series?
Stefanie Melbeck: Unfortunately we are hit absolutely hard by injuries now – and most of those players will not be able to return until the end of the Group Matches. But we hold the heads high and really hope to get some points, mostly in our home matches. How do you rate your opponents in the Group Matches?
Stefanie Melbeck: Though we play again – like last season – against my top favourite Oltchim Vâlcea, the group seems to be a little bit easier with teams like Hypo or Randers compared to Itxako and Volgograd in the past year. We will hopefully get the chance to show that we learnt. When you are among the 16 top teams in Europe you never have any really easy opponent. The first Group Match on Monday will be at Randers in Denmark – will it be something special to play at your former club?
Stefanie Melbeck: I played for Randers from 1999 to 2001 – and no one of the players of my former team are still in the Randers quad. But I really hope that some of the people will still know me – as I was also a Randers opponent from 2007 to 2010, when I played for KIF Vejen. You mentioned Vâlcea as your personal favourite for winning the trophy – what other teams do you expect to be on top?
Stefanie Melbeck: Vâlcea have the best squads of all, below I estimate Györ end Zvezda to have chances to reach the final.

TEXT: Björn Pazen / br