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22 days ago - 1/28/2020

Bjerringbro-Silkeborg aiming to reach knockout stage

Playing knockout matches in Europe is far from a new experience for Bjerringbro-Silkeborg.

In fact, the Danish club have been involved in knockout matches seven times before – twice in the VELUX EHF Champions League, four times in the EHF Cup and once in the Cup Winners' Cup.

Having qualified for the Men's EHF Cup group phase this season, the first objective for head coach Peter Bredsdorff-Larsen and his men is to reach the quarter-finals.

Three questions before the Men's EHF Cup group phase:

- Is the squad deep enough to cope in the EHF Cup and the competitive Danish league?

Bjerringbro-Silkeborg's squad is rather narrow. Additionally, they are missing left wing Stefan Hundstrup, who also used to be crucial in the 5-1 defence they often practise.

However, they have so many experienced players who have tried this before, so this should not be significant if they are spared further injuries.

- Are Bjerringbro-Silkeborg's many experienced players still hungry for success?

Considering their rather inconsistent performances in the Danish league during the autumn, one might get the impression that some of their players are somewhat complacent.

This is strongly denied by head coach Peter Bredsdorff-Larsen, though, and he is looking forward to his team rising to challenge of playing for the fith straight year in a European Cup competition.

"The players and the team always enjoy the international games and the special atmosphere that comes from playing against some of the best teams and players in Europe," he said.

- What can Bjerringbro-Silkeborg achieve in group A against MT Melsungen, SL Benfica and KPR Gwardia Opole?

They ought to have a good chance to finish in one of the two top places, but it is likely to be close.

Team captain Michael Knudsen shares this opinion. He said: “It is a very tough group with four strong teams. Melsungen – an incredibly strong team from the top of the world’s strongest handball league – are favourites to proceed. Bjerringbro-Silkeborg, Benfica and Opole have to fight for second place."

The former Denmark international, who won the VELUX EHF Champions League with SG-Flensburg-Handewitt in 2013/14, believes their away form will determine their fate.

"We have a strong arena at home in Silkeborg where our goal is to get three victories. So the matches away from home will be crucial for our chances to proceed to the quarter finals,” he said.

Under the spotlight: Sebastian Skube

The 32-year-old Slovenian, who has almost turned into a Dane during his six years at Bjerringbro-Silkeborg, is vital to the team’s success.

His huge experience from high-level international matches will come in useful, but his eye for the game, his ability to make himself dangerous and to change pace will be just as important for the Danish side.

Self-esteem

As mentioned above, Bjerringbro-Silkeborg have played quite an inconsistent autumn season in the Danish league, but head coach Peter Bredsdorff-Larsen prefers to look ahead.

“We know that we are facing tough competition in the group phase, including four teams with a lot of quality and experience. We will do our best to proceed from the group phase and be part of the quarter finals," said the experienced coach.

What the numbers say

Bjerringbro-Silkeborg's two experienced line players, Michael Knudsen and Jesper Nöddesbo, have both won the VELUX EHF Champions League in the past.

Knudsen's only Champions League title came with SG Flensburg-Handewitt in 2013/14, while Nöddesbo won the competition with Barça twice – in 2010/11 and 2014/15.

Bjerringbro-Silkeborg (DEN)

Qualified for the Men's EHF Cup group phase: 70:63 vs Pfadi Winterthur Handball (R3) 

Newcomers: Mads Kjeldgaard Andersen (Mors Thy Håndbold), Thrainn Orri Jonsson (Elverum Handball)

Left the club: Rasmus Jensen (Fredericia HK)

Coach: Peter Bredsdorff-Larsen (since 2014)

Team captain: Michael Knudsen

Opponents in the group phase: MT Melsungen (GER), SL Benfica (POR) and KPR Gwardia Opole (POL)

European Cup records:

EHF Champions League records:
Last 16: (2): 2012/13, 2016/17
Group phase (2): 2011/12, 2018/19
Qualification tournament (1): 2010/11

EHF Cup:
Quarter-final (3): 2002/03, 2008/09, 2015/16
Last 16 (1): 2010/11
Group phase (1): 2017/18

Cup Winners' Cup:
Quarter-final (1): 2006/07

Danish league: 1 title (2015/16)
Danish Cup: -

Author: Peter Bruun / jw