Four teams battle in Poland for one last ticket
The backdoor to the Women’s EHF Champions League 2018/19 Group Matches is still open - but only two more teams will get access. Two qualification tournaments this weekend will decide which teams get those final slots in Europe’s leading club competition.
One of the tournaments takes place in Lublin, where the national champions from Poland, Spain and Italy plus the runners-up from Germany will fight for one ticket to Group D, to join CSM Bucuresti (ROU), Vipers Kristiansand (NOR) and FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria (HUN).
The three remaining sides will enter the Women’s EHF Cup: the loser of the final and the winner of the 3/4 placement match in Round 3, and the fourth-ranked team in Round 2, against either Zvezda Zvenigorod (RUS) or LG Zug (SUI).
QUALIFICATION GROUP 1, SEMI-FINAL:
SG BBM Bietigheim (GER) vs Super Amara Bera Bera (ESP)
Lublin, Saturday 8 September, 16:00 hrs local time, live on ehfTV.com
Bietigheim are starting in their third straight international season, having done pretty well in their previous two outings. They reached the EHF Cup Final in 2016/17 as European Cup debutants, and they advanced to the main round on their first appearance in the Women’s EHF Champions League in 2017/18.
Their top signings of the offseason were Dutch right back Laura van der Heijden from FTC and goalkeeper Dinah Eckerle from Thüringer HC, who replaces Dutch national team keeper Tess Wester. The team of Danish head coach Martin Albertsen has the clear goal to qualify for the group matches. “We have prepared intensely for the Spanish style of playing,” Albertsen said.
Bera Bera qualified for the group matches once, in 2013/14, when they ended up winning just one of their six matches. Two years ago, the Spanish side failed in the qualification tournament. The current squad boasts six players from South America, with four players from Brazil, one from Cuba and one from Argentina.
MKS Perla Lublin (POL) vs Jomi Salerno (ITA)
Lublin, Saturday 8 September, 19:00 hrs local time, live on ehfTV.com
Hosts Lublin are regarded favourites in their semi-final against Salerno, which so far have never come through the qualification stage for the Women’s EHF Champions League. The Italian side’s last attempt was in 2013, when they lost to powerhouses Rostov-Don and Vardar.
Still, the rejuvenated team of Lublin will not take anything for granted as they were upset by another Italian side, Indeco Conversano, in qualification two years ago. The Polish champions and reigning Challenge Cup winners have been part of the Women’s EHF Champions League Group Matches during three straight seasons from 2013 to 2016. The most notable player in the squad of head coach Robert Lis is Kinga Achruk, former Champions League winner with Buducnost and still a Polish international.
The 3/4 placement match will be played on Sunday at 16:00 hrs, followed by the final at 19:00 hrs. Both matches will also be streamed live on ehfTV.com.