Time for favourites to show their strengthArticle
«Go back

GROUP C PREVIEW: The favourites in Group C of the Women's EHF Champions League are also obvious favourites in their first matches of the group stage.

»EHF CL Channel »2014-15 Women's News

Time for favourites to show their strength

The top of Group C of the Women’s EHF Champions League seems to become a duel between the new top team of Europe, Györi Audi ETO KC and the old one, Viborg HK.

While Györi Audi ETO KC represent the current top of European women´s handball, having the Women’s EHF Champions League the past two years, another team in Group C, Viborg HK represent tradition.

While Györ have won the Champions League the past two years, Viborg have to go as far back as 2006, 2009 and 2010 to find their three triumphs in the tournament.

In Group C of the group phase this season, the first place may very well be decided between these two teams, with the ruling champions as favourites. Two big question marks can be put at Györ this season. How will they do without pregnant goalkeeper Katrine Lunde, and how will they compensate for the loss of right back Katarina Bulatovic who has left for Buducnost?

Jelena Grubisic has arrived from RK Krim Mercator to fill in for Lunde in goal, while Susann Müller has been signed from HC Leipzig as replacement for Bulatovic, and the big question is, of course, if those two can fill in the gaps after two so crucial players.

If they can, Györ are probably not only to be rated as favourites in Group C, but maybe also to win the tournament for the third time in succession.

With seven new signings compared to five players having left, the team does at least appear even broader than last season, and apart from Grubisic and Müller, back court players Anna Sen from Rostov-Don and Macarena Aguilar from Randers are particularly interesting newcomers.

Viborg with small but strong squad

Saying goodbye to eight players and only signing three has obviously narrowed Viborg’s squad down considerably ahead of their comeback to the Champions League. However, players like Marit Malm Frafjord and Mouna Chebbah did not play much last season due to injury, and therefore the loss of those may not be all that bad, especially considering the fact that the newcomers, goalkeeper Rikke Poulsen as well as line players Mette Gravholt and Sille Thomsen all have high quality.

Having the experienced back court player Rikke Skov and left wing Maria Fisker back from injury also boosts Viborg’s chances.

Croatian Champions League debutants HC Lokomotiva Zagreb will be an interesting new face in this group, while it will be interesting to see how Swedish champions IK Sävehof will compensate for the loss of key players such as Line Blohm, Jamina Roberts, Hanna Fogelström and Frida Tegstedt.

Last season, Sävehof impressed Handball Europe by making it to the main round and doing well there. This year, they may have to fight with Lokomotiva for the third place in Group C.

Most people tend to see reigning Women's EHF Champions League winners Györi Audi ETO KC as clear favourites to win Group C of the group phase with Viborg HK as just as clear outsiders.

Sunday those two teams get the chance to show, if they can actually be considered favourites for the two top positions of the group, as they are both playing at home against the expected underdogs in the group.

Viborg HK (DEN) vs IK Sävehof (SWE)
Sunday 19 October at 15:00 hrs local time, live on ehfTV

For the first time in two years will there be Champions League handball in Viborg Stadionhal, but the Viborg fans will probably not like to think back at the club's latest Champions League adventure.

In the 2012/13 season the champions from 2006, 2009 and 2010 had to leave the tournament after the group phase without having got a single point.
The club with the great Champions League traditions will obviously want to do considerably better this time, and the chance is there already on Sunday against Swedish champions Sävehof.

Recently, Viborg could welcome the experienced back court player and defence specialist Rikke Skov from a long injury break, and her comeback has been a major boost to the team.

Her enormous international experience will undoubtedly come in useful in the Champions League, and she is aware of her role.

“It is important to be calm to a certain point, as an individual player and as a team. As an experienced player you can make your teammates realise that all balls and goals are just as important at the beginning of a match, as they are at the end,” Rikke Skov explained in Viborg's website.

Györi Audi ETO KC (HUN) vs HC Lokomotiva Zagreb (CRO)
Sunday 19 October at 19:00 local time, live on ehfTV

The winners of the Women's EHF Champions League the last two years at home against Champions League debutants. It is hard not to see Györ as clear favourites in this match.

However, as playmaker Anita Görbicz recently put it, “everybody wants to beat us”, and Lokomotiva obviously have nothing to lose in this meeting and can play freely.

“Györ are the best team in Europe, and they have a few new players, but they are not invincible,” Lokomotiva captain Sonja Basic recently told ehfCL.com, and it is probably that attitude the Croatian champions will need to have in the Magvassy Mihaly Sporthalle in Györ Sunday evening.

Lokomotiva have stated that their defence is their key to success. There is no doubt that they will need that defence to be at its best on Sunday.

TEXT: Peter Bruun / br