First international clash of the German rivalsArticle
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FEATURE: HC Leipzig and Thüringer HC face on Saturday in a crucial match for the quarter-finals

First international clash of the German rivals

It is like the women’s handball version of Manchester City vs Manchester United, Real Madrid vs FC Barcelona or Inter Milano vs AC Milan. When the German powerhouses HC Leipzig and Thüringer HC face, players, clubs and fans of both sides are extremely excited – and in all cases those matches of the most successful German women’s handball clubs of the past years have a crucial significance.

After 28 duels in domestic competitions, HCL and THC will cross their swords for the first time on international court on Saturday (14:00 hrs local time in Leipzig), facing in the main round of the Women’s EHF Champions League. Germany is the only country represented by two teams in the Women’s EHF Champions League Main Round.

After they both won their main round openers and lost their respective second matches, both sides are under pressure before the all German clash.

Reigning German cup winner Leipzig have six points on their account, defending German champions Thüringer HC four points.

Leipzig finished the group matches second ranked and took four points to the next stage, while THC ended third ranked, bringing only two points to the main round.

“It is our first final in terms of making it to the quarter-final,” said THC coach Herbert Müller after his team was unluckily defeated by Dinamo on home ground last Sunday.

“It is always a great match against THC, mainly as it is a Champions League for the first time,” said HCL coach Norman Rentsch. His team lost at Podgorica on Saturday.

In the long history of direct encounters of these sides, Leipzig are on top by 15 victories, 12 defeats and 1 draw. This first draw – a 28:28 – happened just three weeks ago in the German league. But looking upon the last duels of both East German clubs, Thüringer HC are clearly ahead: THC won the previous eight matches prior to the draw, including the German Cup final in 2013 and both final matches of the 2012/13 championship.

The last win of HCL (23:22) dates back to the German Bundesliga on 10 October 2012. Since Herbert Müller took over Thüringer HC as a coach in 2010, his team became four consecutive times German champions in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 and took the German Cup twice in 2011 and 2013.

In this period, the only HCL titles were the German Bundesliga title in 2010 and the German Cup in 2014. In the current Bundesliga ranking, THC are on the second position below Buxtehude, but already six points ahead of third ranked team from Leipzig.

Like in football with Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04, usually no players from the one side transfer to the other – with one exception: Nora Reiche.

The former German international started her career in Leipzig, then transferred to Viborg and became EHF Champions League winner in 2010, before she returned to Germany, signing for Thüringer HC from 2010 to 2012 and she ended her career in 2013 where it all started – at HC Leipzig.

One HCL player will be boosted in a special way: Goalkeeper Katja Schülke was awarded Best Female Handball Player of the Year 2014 – as well as Rhein Neckar Löwen left wing Uwe Gensheimer in the male competition.

And the HCL vs THC clash is not the only all German duel next weekend in women’s EHF competitions - in the EHF Cup, Buxtehuder SV host Bayer Leverkusen in the second leg of the Last 16 after Bayer had won the opener on home ground by 31:29.


TEXT: Björn Pazen / br