No dwelling on the past for much changed LöwenArticle
«Go back

VELUX EHF Champions League countdown, part 10: Rhein Neckar Löwen aim to be involved at the business end in all major competitions and finally get their hands on a trophy

»EHF CL Channel »2014-15 Men's News

No dwelling on the past for much changed Löwen

It was a heartbreaking end to last season for Rhein Neckar Löwen. So close to glory both at home and in Europe, but twice left empty handed.

First an eight-goal lead against FC Barcelona in the first leg of the VELUX EHF Champions League quarter-final was not enough to make it to Cologne, as the Catalans went through on away goals. Then the Lions missed out on their first German league title with an inferior goal difference compared to THW Kiel.

But the German runners-up have refused to look back in anger and disappointment, instead looking ahead to a season full of changes in all departments.

Key personnel left the 2013 EHF Cup winners on and off the court, with coach Gudmundur Gudmundsson taking charge of the Danish men’s national team and replaced by a Dane, Nikolaj Jacobsen.

Assistant and goalkeeper coach Tomas Svensson (six-time Champions League winner) is in the same position at Magdeburg now. Manager Thorsten Storm quit his job after seven highly successful years to return to where it all started for him, at THW Kiel. His successor is Lars Lamadé.

Eight players left Löwen over the summer, including Gorbok, Roggisch, Sesum, Stojanovic, Manojlovic, Prodanovic and Isaias Guardiola, and next summer will see top star also saying “farvel, Mannheim”, as goalkeeper Niklas Landin will join THW Kiel.

Jacobsen starts his mission at Löwen with a handful of highly ambitious youngsters from all over Europe, such as Danish jewel Mads Mensah Larsen, Norwegian Harald Reinkind and a player regarded by many as the best German talent in years, Tim Suton.

Despite these many changes, all involved at Löwen are confident they will play a starring role in all competitions, with a top three finish in the German League alongside final tournament appearances in the German cup and Europe the goals.

In the VELUX EHF Champions League, Löwen were drawn in arguably the toughest of all groups, facing FINAL4 contenders Veszprem, Vardar and Montpellier as well as internationally experienced teams Medvedi and Celje.

“From a sporting aspect, this group is highly attractive,” says team captain Uwe Gensheimer, adding: “Since last season we know how hard it is to play at Veszprem and thanks to their new arrivals they are a new powerhouse in European handball. In terms of travelling, the group could have been better.”

New manager Lars Lamadé shares this opinion: “We will face teams which belong to the top of the Champions League. After making it to the FINAL4 in June, Veszprem is the favourite in our group.”

Before starting their European campaign, Löwen was part of a new handball world record, when 44,189 spectators attended the Bundesliga match against HSV Hamburg in Frankfurt’s Commerzbank-Arena, the highlight of the German day of handball on 6 September.

Rhein-Neckar Löwen (GER)

Qualification for the 2014/2015 VELUX EHF Champions League season: second ranked in Germany

Newcomers: coach Nikolaj Jacobsen (Aalborg Handbold), Bastian Rutschmann (Frisch Auf Göppingen), Harald Reinkind (Fyllingen Handball), Mads Mensah Larsen (Aalborg Handbold), Stefan Kneer (SC Magdeburg), Tim Suton (HG Saarlouis)

Left the club: coach Gudmundur Gudmundsson (Danish national team), assistant coach Tomas Svensson (SC Magdeburg), Goran Stojanovic (El Jaish SC), Isaias Guardiola (Aalborg Handbold), Nikola Manojlovic (Meshkov Brest), Rajko Prodanovic (Pick Szeged), Sergei Gorbok (Vardar Skopje), Zarko Sesum (Frisch Auf Göppingen), Oliver Roggisch (end of career, now assistant coach and club management)

Coach: Nikolaj Jacobsen (since July 2014, successor of Gudmundur Gudmundsson)

VELUX EHF Champions League records:

Participations (including 2014/2015 season): 6
Semi-finalist (2): 2008/09, 2010/11
Quarter-finalist (2): 2009/10, 2013/2014
Qualification (1): 2011/12

Other EC records:

Cup Winners’ Cup:
Finalist: 2007/08

EHF Cup:
Winner: 2012/13
Semi-finalist: 2011/12
Quarter-finalist: 2006/07

German league champion: - (runners-up 2014)

German cup: - (finalist 2006, 2007, 2010)

TEXT: Björn Pazen / cor