3 debutants, 5 former winners and 108 matches still aheadArticle
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FACTS AND FIGURES: All you need to know before the start of the Women’s EHF Champions League Group Matches

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3 debutants, 5 former winners and 108 matches still ahead

After the conclusion of the qualification tournaments, boarding is completed for the 2016/17 season of the Women’s EHF Champions League. Here are the most important facts and figures prior to the start of the group matches, in which CSM Bucuresti are the hunted for the first time.

0 times since the inauguration of the Women’s EHF FINAL4 in 2014, have the champions defended their title. Last team to do so was Györi Audi ETO in 2014, being the first FINAL4 winners after raising the trophy already in the old system.

1 coach can become the first to win the Women’s EHF Champions League with his second club: Danish born new Bucurest coach Jakob Vestergaard, who steered Viborg to two titles in 2009 and 2010.

1 draw only is needed ahead of the Women’s EHF FINAL4 -- the draw for the final event. From the four Groups A, B , C & D, 12 teams will make it to the main round. From there the quarter-finalists are made up out of the end ranking of those two groups, and the winners of those ties go into a pot for the FINAL4 draw.

1 person can become the first female to win the EHF Champions League as a player and a coach: Indira Kastratovic, who won the trophy as a player of Kometal Gjorce Petrov and now is coach of Vardar.

2 of the 16 group matches participants have been part of all three FINAL4 tournaments since 2014: Buducnost (MNE) and Vardar (MKD). Besides, Györ (twice), Midtjylland, Larvik and defending champions Bucurest have been part of the final event only once.

3 group matches debutants are among those 16 teams:  Glassverket (NOR), Esbjerg (DEN) and Russian champions Astrakhanocka.

3 teams clinched their berth for the group matches as winners of the qualification tournaments: Glassverket (NOR), Krim (SLO) and Leipzig (GER)

3 teams per group will proceed to the main round. Groups A and B will make up Group 1 of the main round, while groups C and D will compose Group 2. Head-to-head results will also be carried onto the next stage.

4 (meaning all) participants of the Women’s EHF FINAL 2016 have qualified for the group matches again: Bucurest, Györ, Buducnost and Vardar.

4 times each, Rostov’s goalkeeper Katrine Lunde, Buducnost’s right back Katarina Bulatovic and Bucurest’s left wing Cristina Varzaru have won the EHF Champions League trophy. They top this individual title ranking of those players involved in the current season. The overall record holders are Ausra Fridrikas and Bojana Popovic with six trophies each.

5 nations are represented in the group matches with two teams each: Due to the new system and the nations ranking, Hungary and Denmark automatically had two spots, Russia were granted a spot by the decision of the EHF Executive, while a Norwegian (Glassverket) and German team (Leipzig) booked their spot via the qualification tournaments.

5 former or current Women’s EHF Champions League winners, representing 8 titles are part of the 2016/17 group matches: Krim (2001, 2003), Larvik (2011), Buducnost (2012, 2015), Györ (2013, 2014) and Bucurest (2016). For the first time ever since the start of the Champions League in 1993, record winners Hypo Niederösterreich (4 titles) missed out on the qualification for the group matches.

6 former Women’s Champions League top scorers are on court in the 2015/16 group matches: Anita Görbicz (2014: 87 goals, 2012: 133), Heidi Löke (2011: 99), Zsuzsanna Tomori (2013: 95), all playing for Györ, Cristina Neagu (2015: 102) for Buducnost and Isabelle Gullden (2016:108) and Cristina Varzaru (2010: 111), both playing for Bucurest.

6 former of current female World Handball Player of the Year are part of the 2015/16 group matches: Cristina Neagu (Buducnost/2010 and 2015), Eduarda Amorim (Györ/2014), Andrea Lekic (Vardar/2013), Heidi Löke (Györ/2011), Gro Hammerseng-Edin (Larvik/2007), Anita Görbicz (Györ/2005). Compared to last season, this is a minus of two, as Alexandra do Nascimento and Allison Pineau have signed for non-CL clubs.

9 from 10 previous seasons (eight consecutive times from the 2006/07 to 2013/14 and 2015/16), have Györ at least qualified for the semi-finals of the Women’s EHF Champions League.

11 nations represent the previous winners of the Women’s EHF Champions League: Denmark (6 titles), Austria (4), Hungary (3), Slovenia (2), Montenegro (2), Norway, FYR Macedonia, Spain, Croatia, Russia and Romania (one title each).

11 national champions - and thus 11 nations - are part of the group matches.

11 clubs, which were part of the 2015/16 Women’s EHF Champions League Group Matches, are back again: Bucurest, Györ, Buducnost, Vardar, Thüringer HC, Larvik, Sävehof, Rostov, FTC, Krim and Midtjylland.  Compared to last season, those teams failed to qualify: Baia Mare, Fleury, Podravka, Hypo and Lublin.

21 times including the new season Buducnost are part of the Women’s EHF Champions League.

25 countries represented by 300 plus players - Norway leads with 45 followed by Germany (41) and Russia (38). The only non-European country taking party is Brazil with four players.

120 matches (including qualification) will have been played when the 2016/17 winner of the Women’s EHF Champions League is confirmed. 12 qualification matches already took place, followed by each 48 group matches and main round matches, eight quarter-final matches and those four matches at the EHF FINAL4 in May 2017.

TEXT: Björn Pazen / bc