Relentless Barça Lassa top Power RankingArticle
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NEWS REPORT: There are some movers and some new names as journalists have again selected the top 10 teams in the VELUX EHF Champions League, based on their current form
»2018-19 Men's News

Relentless Barça Lassa top Power Ranking

It has been a fascinating start to the VELUX EHF Champions League season, with the opening five rounds throwing up a number of surprise results. The current national team break has given us a chance to take stock and reflect on the first batch of matches. journalists have selected their top 10 in-form teams to create the latest Power Ranking, which has changed dramatically from the pre-season ranking with the numbers 1 and 4, Montpellier and Flensburg, left out, while the side previously in fifth spot has jumped up to first.

10. Bjerringbro-Silkeborg

The outstanding team from Groups C/D this season. Only Barça have outscored the free-flowing Danish side so far this season and they put their Round 2 defeat to Presov behind them to lead Group C alongside Sporting CP.

9. Skjern Handbold

A bright start to the season was dampened somewhat with a loss to Nantes and draw at home to Zagreb, but a brave two-goal loss to PSG in front of 7,000 fans will be a serious confidence booster, reminding themselves and the rest of Europe that this is a team which can compete with the best on their day. With Emil Nielsen performing wonders in goal, if Skjern can get all their goal scorers firing together, the results will follow.

8. HBC Nantes

Last season’s beaten finalists suffered a worryingly poor start to their campaign, but have bounced back with a pair of victories in recent weeks, either side of a narrow away loss to PSG. A series of very winnable matches awaits Thierry Anti’s men, which should see them make more of a splash in Group B.

7. Telekom Veszprém HC

The appointment of David Davis as coach and his first win over Montpellier temporarily put the expectant Veszprém fans at ease, keeping them safe in the mix in the tough Group A, but not for long. Defeats to Tatabanya and Szeged in the Hungarian league have left a great deal of uncertainty ahead of the national team break.

“Defeat in their last two domestic matches leaves them in a run of form nobody at the club has experienced in the last two decades,” says Hungarian journalist Béla Müller.

6. Rhein-Neckar Löwen

This season has been a mixed bag for Löwen, full of inconsistency during key matches. One thing is clear, however, the motivation to excel in Europe this season and they have all the tools required to go far. The next four matches, home and away against Veszprém and Montpellier, will test their ability to perform consistently.

5. PGE Vive Kielce

One of the surprise packages of the season. Since they put up a fight away to Veszprém in Round 1, heavily depleted with injuries, Kielce have gone on a four-game winning streak. The squad is still understrength, which may eventually come back to haunt them, but the brilliant Luka Cindric and Alex Dujshebaev are more than making up for the lack of numbers.

4. HC Vardar

Vardar have caught the majority of us off-guard and thrived with what remains of their old squad, plus a few shrew additions.

“Roberto Garcia Parrondo seems to have struck the right balance with rebuilding his team. Early days, still, with the decisive matches in Group A coming up, but they have impressed me most,” says Balkan correspondent Nemanja Savic.

3. MOL-Pick Szeged

“Their perfect record speaks for Szeged and they will now face Paris twice in November with a genuine chance of beating them. Not only have the summer signings brought some fresh blood to the roster, they also proved to be decisive in the tough battle against Nantes,” explains’s Kevin Domas.

2. Paris Saint-Germain HC

Joint-top of Group B with a perfect record, PSG were offered a pair of real tests in recent weeks, which they survived and won. The news of Nikola Karabatic’s foot surgery and minimum four-month absence is a blow to the French champions, but it gives an opportunity to Mikkel Hansen, Sander Sagosen and newcomer Kim Ekdahl du Rietz to prove they can lead this star-studded squad on a regular basis.

1. Barça Lassa

Since their Round 1 defeat away to Löwen, Barcelona have torn through the lower half of Group A, picking up four wins and first place. Four fascinating clashes against Kielce and Vardar are on the horizon, but it is difficult to imagine this well-rounded squad coming through this stretch of games without a few victories. The record champions have been relentless in attack, picking up the most goals and best goal difference in the competition and doing so without relying on any one player.

TEXT: Chris O'Reilly / ew