Can world champions steer Bietigheim to EHF Cup Finals?Article
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WOMEN’S EHF CUP COUNTDOWN #14: SG BBM Bietigheim (GER). After their early exit from the Champions League for a second straight season, the German champions hope to make it far in the EHF Cup this time
»2019-20 Women's News

Can world champions steer Bietigheim to EHF Cup Finals?

Like last season, SG BBM Bietigheim had to cope with an early elimination from the DELO WOMEN’S EHF Champions League, finishing fourth in the standings after the group matches.

In contrast to the previous year, the German champions now hope to make it to the finals, like they did in 2017, to present their outgoing coach Martin Albertsen with a fitting farewell present.

Three questions before the Women’s EHF Cup group phase:

- What impact has the early exit from Bietigheim in the Champions League and Germany in the World Championship?

In the Champions League, the German champions had hardly any chance against Valcea, Brest and Buducnost, snatching only one victory from six matches. “We had to see that the gap was too big for us,” said goalkeeper Dinah Eckerle, but their group in the EHF Cup is far from easy as well, with Herning-Ikast, Lada and Storhamar.

Also, the recent World Championship in Japan could affect Bietigheim. Four players - Dinah Eckerle, Kim Naidzinavicius, Luisa Schulze and Amelie Berger - were part of the German national team that was deeply disappointed after squandering an excellent chance to reach the semi-finals, or at least a berth for the Olympic qualification tournament.

On the other hand, two Dutch Bietigheim players will be flying on the wings of success when they arrive back at their club: Laura van der Heijden and Angela Malestein won gold with Netherlands. Bietigheim will be full of mixed emotions.

- What impact will the departure of Martin Albertsen have?

It will be rather a motivation than a setback. Albertsen announced his future plans very early, so everybody could cope with the situation. The players are highly motivated to gift their coach with two domestic trophies and now hope for international success in the EHF Cup. In December, Bietigheim announced Albertsen’s successor, the young German coach Markus Gaugisch, who will work with a women’s team for the first time.

- What are the key positions in the team?

In goal, Germany’s No. 1 Dinah Eckerle has been vastly improving thanks to playing Champions League in the last six seasons. Also, the tall middle block with Luisa Schulze, Kim Naidzinavicius and Maren Nyland Aardahl will play an essential role. Sometimes the efficiency from the wing positions has been too low, but Dutch world champion Angela Malestein will be on fire. The back court axis is a true asset with Polish record international Karolina Kudlacz-Gloc, Naidzinavicius and highly experienced Dutch duo Maura Visser and Laura van der Heijden. Another strong weapon are the counter-attacks of Antje Lauenroth.

Under the spotlight: Kim Naidzinavicius

Twice in a row, the team captain of Bietigheim and the German national team missed a major tournament because of knee injuries: the World Championship in 2017 and the EHF EURO 2018. But since the summer of 2019, Naidzinavicius has been back to her best. Even in a team full of experienced top-class players, the 28-year-old playmaker is the hub of Bietigheim’s attack.


“We want to make it to the finals,” says team captain Kim Naidzinavicius. But the hurdles are huge – mainly in the away matches at Herning and Togliatti. Bietigheim must leave one of those big-name teams plus Storhamar behind them. The squad is strong, but Bietigheim have  not always replicated their domestic performances in Europe.

Fun fact

Bietigheim’s squad includes two soloists of the Women’s EHF Cup: the only players in the competition from Azerbaijan (goalkeeper Valentyna Salamakha) and Switzerland (left back Daphne Gautschi).

What the numbers say

In Bietigheim and the German national team, line player Luisa Schulze (190cm) and right wing Amelie Berger (160cm) are the tallest and the shortest players.

SG BBM Bietigheim (GER)

Qualified for Women’s EHF Cup group phase: 4th in DELO WOMEN’S EHF Champions League group C

Newcomers: Maren Nyland Aardahl (Byåsen HE), Amelie Berger (TSV Bayer 04 Leverkusen), Daphne Gautschi (Metz Handball), Leonie Patorra (own youth academy)

Left the club: Daniela Gustin (Horsens HK)

Coach:  Martin Albertsen (since December 2014)

Team captain: Kim Naidzinavicius

European Cup records

Champions League:
Main Round (1): 2017/18
Group Matches (2): 2018/19, 2019/20

EHF Cup:
Finalists: 2016/17
Group Phase: 2018/19

German league: 2 titles (2017, 2019)

TEXT: Björn Pazen / ew