Füchse face tough road to home finals
Füchse Berlin were awarded the hosting rights of the Men’s EHF Cup Finals 2020 last week. But since Thursday, the former two-time champions know they will have to navigate some huge obstacles before they actually qualify for their 23/24 May home event.
Füchse were drawn into group D and handed PAUC Handball, Grundfos Tatábanya KC and BM Logroño La Rioja as opponents during the Men’s EHF Cup group phase draw at the EHF office in Vienna on Thursday.
“All opponents are very strong teams,” said Füchse club manager and former player, Volker Zerbe. “In the past we played against Tatábanya and La Rioja, so we know these teams and also the atmosphere in their arenas.”
First round is scheduled for 8/9 February
As the country protection rule applied, Füchse and three other German clubs were kept separated during the draw, as was the case for the three French, three Spanish and two Danish clubs.
The top two teams from each group advance to the quarter-final. However, if Füchse win their group, they will be directly seeded through to the finals as the hosts of the event in the 8,500-capacity Max-Schmeling-Halle.
“We are looking forward to celebrating this event in May with all the supporters, with the team and the city of Berlin,” Zerbe said.
“One of the best moments in our club history”
Like Füchse, TTH Holstebro made it all the way to the finals in 2018/19 and the Danish side is eager to repeat that feat this season.
“It was one of the best moments in our club history,” TTH director John Mikkelsen said. “We are proud to be on this level of handball in Europe.”
TTH were drawn in group B alongside Rhein-Neckar Löwen, Liberbank Cuenca and USAM Nimes Gard.
“Three very tough teams,” Mikkelsen said. “It will be six hard matches but I like the teams in our group.”
Also for TTH’s opponents Löwen, “it will be an interesting group,” said team manager Christopher Monz.
“We never played against any of these clubs in our history so we are looking forward,” Monz added.
Löwen are widely regarded one of the main title candidates, after they had reached at least the Last 16 of the VELUX EHF Champions League in each of the past six seasons.
“It feels good to be back in the EHF Cup,” Monz said. “We have good experiences in this cup.”
“An honour to be in this competition”
Contrary to the Bundesliga powerhouse, Nimes Gard are lacking European Cup experience.
“For the club it is an honour to be in this competition,” Nimes staff member Florian Pitrau said. “It will be a challenge for us. The city and the people are very excited in Nimes.”
The remaining two groups will be headlined by two German teams.
MT Melsungen are facing Bjerringbro-Silkeborg, KPR Gwardia Opole and SL Benfica in group A, while SC Magdeburg in group C will be up against three teams with recent Champions League experience: HBC Nantes, RK Gorenje Velenje and Abanca Ademar Léon.
The first round of the group phase is scheduled for 8/9 February, and the last round will take place on 28/29 March.
Author: EHF / ew