9600 minutes, 24 teams, 15 nationsArticle
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FACTS AND FIGURES: All you need to know about the group phase and the rest of the upcoming VELUX EHF Champions League season

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9600 minutes, 24 teams, 15 nations

With the completion of the three qualification tournaments on Sunday, all 24 group phase participants of the 2014/15 VELUX EHF Champions League season have been confirmed.

Motor Zaporozhye, Besiktas and Meshkov Brest were the last to book their tickets as winners of their respective tournaments for the flagship event of European club handball.

To celebrate the return of the VELUX EHF Champions League, here are the most important facts and figures of the upcoming group phase and beyond:

1 debutant is among those 24 teams qualified: Besiktas - and their qualification also means that a Turkish side is part of the EHF Champions League group phase for the first time.

1 coach took the EHF Champions League trophy with two different clubs: Alfred Gislason, who won the title in 2002 with SC Magdeburg and 2010 and 2012 with THW Kiel.

1 person is EHF Champions League winner as a player (Teka Santander/ESP) and a coach (Ciudad Real/ESP): Talant Dushebaev. This season Dushebaev is aiming for his next record, trying to lead Polish champions Kielce to the podium in Cologne. Another Champions League winning player who hopes to follow in Dushebaev’s footsteps is Carlos Antonio Ortega, six times winner as a player with FC Barcelona and is one of the FINAL4 contenders with his club Veszprem.

3 winners of the qualification tournaments are part of the group phase: Motor Zaporozhye (Ukraine), Besiktas (Turkey) and Brest (Belarus).

4 (all) participants of the VELUX EHF FINAL4 2014 are part of the group phase again: defending champions SG Flensburg-Handewiit (GER), beaten finalist THW Kiel (GER), third ranked FC Barcelona (ESP) and MVM-MKB Veszprem (HUN).

4 countries were represented by the winners of the EHF Champions League since the start of this competition in 1993: Spain (13 titles), Germany (6), France and Slovenia (each 1).

4 times both THW Kiel and FC Barcelona have been part of the VELUX EHF FINAL 4 in Cologne, which has been played five times so far. Kiel took the trophy twice (2010, 2012), Barcelona once (2011).

5 former or current winners of the EHF Champions League are part of the 2014/15 group phase: SG Flensburg-Handewitt (GER/2013), THW Kiel (2010, 2012), FC Barcelona (1996-2000, 2005, 2011), RK Celje (2004), Montpellier AHB (2003).

5 times (every edition since the first in 2010) that the final of the VELUX EHF FINAL4 was composed of Spanish and/or German teams: 2010: Kiel vs Barcelona, 2011: Barcelona vs Madrid, 2012: Kiel vs Madrid, 2013: Hamburg vs Barcelona, 2014: Flensburg vs Barcelona

5 times Belarusian Siarhei Rutenka has won the EHF Champions League (three times with Ciudad Real, once with Celje and Barcelona each) - which makes him the most successful currently active player. Thierry Omeyer (now PSG) can catch him, as he won the trophy four times already (three times with Kiel and once with Montpellier).

6 different nations have been represented by clubs qualified for the VELUX EHF FINAL4 since 2010: Spain, Germany, Russia, Denmark, Poland and Hungary.

6th edition of the VELUX EHF FINAL4 will take place in Cologne 30/31 May 2015.

6 times the winner of the EHF Champions League was a German side: Magdeburg (2002), Kiel (2007, 2010, 2012), Hamburg (2013) and Flensburg (2014).

7 times FC Barcelona has won the trophy of the EHF Champions League, making them record winners of the competition.

7 times Andrej Xepkin has raised the EHF Champions League trophy, six times with Barcelona (1996-2000 and 2005), once with Kiel (2007), making him the most successful player of all time.

7 former top scorers of the EHF Champions League are part of the 2014/15 group phase: Momir Ilic (2013/14 - 103 goals, Veszprem), Mikkel Hansen (2011/12 - 98 goals, then AG Kobenhavn, now PSG Paris), Uwe Gensheimer (2010/11- 118 goals, Rhein Neckar Löwen), Filip Jicha 2008/09- 99 goals and 2009/10 - 119 goals, Kiel), Kiril Lazarow (2007/08 - 96 goals and 2005/06 - 85 goals, then Veszprem, today Barcelona), Nikola Karabatic (2006/07 - 89 goals, then  Kiel, today Barcelona), Siarhei Rutenka (2003/04 - 103 goals and 2004/05 - 85 goals, then Celje, today Barcelona).

10 years ago was the last time that there was neither a Spanish nor German winner of the competition, when RK Celje from Slovenia won.

13 times Spanish teams have raised the trophy: Barcelona (7), Ciudad Real (3), Santander, Irun, Portland (each 1).

15 different nations, the same number as the previous season, are represented by the 24 group phase participants. Germany and France have three teams each among those 24, Spain, Denmark, Hungary, FYR Macedonia and Poland have two each. In contrast to the previous season, the champions of Portugal missed the qualification for the group phase, but Turkey is present.

17 of those 24 teams were part of the 2013/14 group phase: Kiel, Metalurg, Zagreb, La Rioja and Paris from Group A, Barcelona, KIF Kolding Kobenhavn, Plock and Flensburg from Group B, Veszprem, Celje, Löwen, Vardar from Group C and Kielce, Dunkerque, Aalborg and Zaporozhye from Group D.

120 group matches are ahead until the participants of the Last 16 are confirmed in February 2015.

160 matches (including those 12 from the qualification tournaments) must be played until the 2014/15 winner of the VELUX EHF Champions League will celebrate on the podium.

9600 minutes (if no extra-time is needed to decide games) must be played until the winner of the competition is confirmed.

15,320 spectators was a record high for the 2013/14 group phase in the game between Minsk and Barcelona.

20,000 fans are once again expected to be part of the 2015 VELUX EHF FINAL4 in Cologne. 

TEXT: Björn Pazen / cor