New name at the top of the power rankingArticle
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POWER RANKING: The collection of the VELUX EHF Champions League’s 10 most in-form teams sees some new entries and the usual suspects knocked down a peg or two
»2019-20 Men's News

New name at the top of the power ranking

The opening five rounds of the VELUX EHF Champions League has delivered one of the most evenly contested group phases to date, with very little to choose among the major contenders in groups A and B.

This makes the positions of the latest power ranking a tricky task, made even more interesting by some outstanding performers from groups C and D, who have broken into the top 10 for the first time.

10. C.S. Dinamo Bucuresti

At the halfway stage of group D, the Romanian champions remain unbeaten and on course for a second trip to the elimination round.

The eclectic mix of players from eight nations has delivered so far in a evenly matched group, including a draw away to Plock and a home win over GOG, making them good value for their first entry into the power ranking.

9. FC Porto Sofarma

Last season’s EHF Cup bronze medallists have settled into life in group B very well. They have picked up all of their points at home and if they continue to do so, they will be in good stead.

However, this Saturday’s Match of the Week is likely to be their toughest home test yet as 2018 champions Montpellier come to town.

8. Bidasoa Irun

In the club’s first top flight season in 23 years, Irun must feel they are back where they belong, sitting pretty at the top of group C.

Having dropped their first point in the away draw against Sporting, they reacted perfectly in round 5, winning the top of the table clash against Sävehof with ease, claiming a 39:23 victory in front of their passionate home crowd.

7. Telekom Veszprém

This was not the start of the season most would have expected from the star-studded Hungarian side, suffering two defeats in the opening three matches – at home to Kiel and away at Montpellier.

Nevertheless,  Veszprém have bounced back well with two confident wins, including a 39:30 victory over Vardar, and while it is not an ideal situation, they find themselves joint-second in group B and it appears David Davis has steadied the ship.

6. MOL-Pick Szeged

It all began so beautifully for Szeged with the home win over Barça in round 1, but the shine was dulled somewhat by defeat to PSG and a home draw against Flensburg.

Juan Carlos Pastor’s men are made of sterner stuff, though, and two solid away victories against Aalborg and Zagreb have put them within a point of top spot in group A and set them up nicely for a run of five games, from which they will feel maximum points are attainable.

5. Montpellier HB

They are back. The 2018 champions appear to have put a disastrous 2018/19 campaign behind them and we are seeing more of the attractive handball we are used to from Montpellier.

Injuries continue to bother the French club, but the have persevered and claimed impressive victories at home to Veszprém and away against Kielce, putting them right in the mix in group B.

4. Aalborg Handbold

Arguably the biggest surprise package of the season so far. A nightmare first half in round 4’s Match of the Week against Szeged is all that separates Aalborg from being the only club with a perfect record this season.

The opening three victories left people wondering just how good they are, but a comeback victory against Flensburg has silenced many doubts and put the Danish champions in a comfortable position ahead of a gruelling four rounds against PSG and Barça.

3. Paris Saint-Germain HB

Plagued by absences in the back court at the moment, PSG will not be too disheartened by their first defeat of the season away to Barça.

Although they appear to be trucking on without superstars Mikkel Hansen and Sander Sagosen, Paris will not want to wait too long for their return as group A is on a knife-edge with four teams primed to snatch points from them if given a chance.

2. Barça

Spain’s perennial champions have bounced back from a disappointing VELUX EHF FINAL4 2019 and opening day loss to Szeged in style.

Four wins on the trot, with the most goals and best goal difference in the competition show they are not messing about. Victory over PSG in round 5 was their first major test passed and put them in good stead for the rest of 2019’s group games.

1. THW Kiel

How good is it to have Kiel back in the big time? Last season’s EHF Cup champions have been outstanding so far this season, going on a four-match winning streak since the opening day draw against Kielce.

Their first half performance away to reigning champions Vardar in round 4, leading 16:4, will go down as one of the finest 30 minutes of VELUX EHF Champions League handball and it is difficult to imagine that Filip Jicha’s side has already peaked.

TEXT: Chris O'Reilly