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30 days ago - 11/19/2018

Rostov and Györ start main round on top

Following the completion of the group matches on Sunday evening, the Women’s EHF Champions League 2018/19 is heating up as the top 12 teams prepare for the main round stage – and four sides farewell the competition.

The four clubs ranked at the bottom of their respective groups will continue their international season in the EHF Cup, while the 12 teams qualified for the main round will restart their EHF Champions League campaigns in January. There will be a break for all women’s European cup competitions from now until the new year, due to the EHF EURO 2018 in France, beginning on November 29.

All main round teams carry the results and points from the group matches into the main round – apart from the points gained against the eliminated teams. Main round Group 1 is comprised of the top three sides from Group A and B, while Group C’s and D’s top three sides merged to create Group 2.

Defending champions Györi Audi ETO KC start their Group 2 campaign at the top of the table with eight points, ahead of 2015/16 winners CSM Bucuresti on six. Györ’s long-time domestic rivals FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria begin the main round from fifth place, behind RK Krim Mercator in fourth and third-ranked Vipers Kristiansand. The group is rounded out by the last team to secure their main round berth, Thüringer HC, on one point from their Round 6 draw against Krim in the group matches.

Györi are one of only two unbeaten teams entering the main round – the other being Rostov-Don. With seven points, Rostov start the main round at the top of Group 1, but are closely followed by their nearest rivals, Buducnost, on six. Group 1 also features both French clubs and both Danish teams that contested the group matches, with Metz Handball currently third and Brest Bretagne Handball fifth, while Kobenhavn Handball and Odense HC are fourth and sixth, respectively.

The first round of main round matches will be played at the end of January. In Group 1, Odense will take on Brest Bretagne, Buducnost will host Kobenhavn and Group A winners Metz will face Rostov.

Group 2 sees one stand-out clash starting the round, as the defending champions Györi will meet Group D winners CSM Bucuresti in a rematch of the 2018 semi-final won by the Hungarian side. FTC will start their main round campaign away against THC, while Krim will host Vipers.

By March 10, 2019, when the buzzer has sounded for the last main round matches, the quarter-finalists will be known. The top four teams in each main round group will proceed to the two-leg home-and-away play-offs, where the FINAL4 2019 participants will be decided.

At the end of the group phase, the top scorer of the competition is the left back who took the crown last season and in 2014/15 – Romanian ace Cristina Neagu. Neagu has scored 49 goals so far. Her nearest competitors are two right backs very influential in their teams’ game: Rostov’s Anna Vyakhireva (46 goals) and Brest’s Ana Gros (44 goals).

Author: Courtney Gahan