126 top flight players on court in QatarArticle
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FACTS AND FIGURES: FC Barcelona top club ranking, while the Croats have the highest number of stars from Europe's elite club competition in their roster

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126 top flight players on court in Qatar

The 24th Men’s Handball World Championship got underway in Qatar on Thursday and the VELUX EHF Champions League stars play a top role in nearly all squads. Even though some stars such as France's Luc Abalo (PSG) or Arpad Sterbik (Spain/Vardar) miss the event due to injuries, still 126 of those 382 players nominated for Qatar, are contracted by current group phase participants, which means a percentage of 30.3.

20 of the 24 teams at Qatar 2015 count on VELUX EHF Champions League stars. Croatia tops this ranking with 15 of 16 nominated players arriving from clubs in the competition, followed by FYR Macedonia (14), defending champions Spain (12) and Poland (11). Only four of those Croats are playing for Croatian champions PPD Zagreb with the rest spread all over Europe. 13 of the 14 Macedonians are contracted by domestic powerhouses Metalurg and Vardar from Skopje.

European and Olympic champions France only have seven players in their squad plying their trade in competing clubs, while Germany, home of the 2012, 2013 and 2014 winners Kiel, Hamburg and Flensburg, only have four players in their roster.

The only countries without a player in their squads are Chile, Egypt, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Having three Champions League players in their roster, Tunisia have the best representation among non-European participants.

List of VELUX EHF Champions League players per country:

15: Croatia
14: FYR Macedonia
12: Spain
11: Poland
9: Belarus, Russia, Sweden
8: Denmark, Slovenia
7: France
5: Iceland
4: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Germany
3: Tunisia
2: Brazil, Czech Republic
1: Algeria, Argentina, Austria, Qatar
0: Chile, Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia

Among the clubs:

Taking a look upon the 24 current club teams in Europe's premier competiton, record champions FC Barcelona top all statistics. With 12 players they have the biggest number of all teams and have eight different nations represent the club.

The 2013 and 2014 IHF Super Globe winner in Doha even has players from three different continents in Qatar: Europe (ten players), Africa (Wael Jallouz/Tunisia) and Asia (Danijel Saric/Qatar). Also French record champions Montpellier represent three continents in Doha: Europe, Pan America and Africa.

In total, 22 of the 24 clubs are represented in Doha. Behind Spanish champions Barcelona are Macedonian side Vardar and Polish champions Kielce have with the next highest number of players in Doha - each 11. Fourth ranked are three-time champions THW Kiel and Belorussian champions Meshkov Brest with ten Qatar 2015 participants each.

Reigning champions Flensburg are represented by only four players and none of which are German. They are represented by two Danes and two Swedes.

Number of Qatar 2015 participants from Champions League clubs:

12: FC Barcelona (ESP)
11: Vardar Skopje (MKD), Vive Tauron Kielce (POL)
10: THW Kiel (GER), Meshkov Brest (BLR)
9: Montpellier AHB (FRA)
8: Paris Saint-Germain (FRA), Metalurg Skopje (MKD)
6: MOL-Pick Szeged (HUN)
5: MKB Veszprem (HUN), Rhein-Neckar Löwen (GER), PPD Zagreb (CRO)
4: SG Flensburg (GER), Orlen Wisla Plock (POL)
3: RK Celje Pivovarna Lasko (SLO), Chekhovskie Medvedi (RUS), Motor Zaporozhye (UKR), KIF Kolding Kobenhavn (DEN)
2: Dunkerque HB Grand Littoral (FRA), Naturhouse La Rioja (ESP)
1: Aalborg Handball (DEN), Besiktas MOGAZ HT (TUR)
0: Kadetten Schaffhausen (SUI), Alingsas (SWE)

By looking upon the number of different countries represented in their squads, again Barcelona is on top with eight players. All eight players who had been selected from Metalurg Skopje are Macedonians. And even clubs from countries, which have not qualified for Qatar 2015, are among this list, like the Hungarian sides Veszprem and Szeged.

Number of Qatar 2015 participating countries represented in the VELUX EHF Champions League squads:

8: Barcelona (BLR, DEN, ESP, FRA, ISL, MKD, QAT, TUN)
5: Montpellier (ARG, BRA, FRA, SLO, TUN), Szeged (BIH, ESP, POL, SLO, SWE)
4: Veszprem (BIH, CRO, ESP, SWE), Brest (AUT, BIH, BLR, SLO), Vardar (CRO, ESP, MKD, RUS), PSG (CRO, DEN, FRA, ISL), Löwen (DEN, ESP, GER, ISL), Kielce (CRO, ESP, POL, SLO)
3: Celje (CRO, SLO, CZE)
2: Zagreb (BIH, CRO), Kolding (SWE, DEN), Flensburg (DEN, SWE), Dunkerque (ALG, TUN), Zaporozhye (BLR, RUS)
1 Besiktas (CRO), Aalborg (SWE), Plock (POL), Medvedi (RUS)





TEXT: Björn Pazen / cor