|09.08.2016, 12:10||◄ last page|
FEATURE: Although top nations such as Spain, Hungary or Iceland failed to qualify for the Olympic Games, 75 VELUX EHF Champions League players fight in Rio at the moment
France set their Rio hopes on Champions League stars
The training venues at Paris, Kielce and Montpellier are quite empty at the moment.
The reason is clear, as most of the players of those VELUX EHF Champions League clubs are currently at the Olympic Games in Rio. Paris coach Noka Serdarusic has the biggest number of players to “replace”, as eleven PSG stars represent in total five countries at Rio, including the new arrivals Luka Stepancic (Croatia) and Uwe Gensheimer (Germany).
The reigning VELUX EHF FINAL4 winner Vive Tauron Kielce have ten players from four different countries on the handball court in the Future Arena in Rio, including seven Polish stars and even their coach Talant Dujshebaev, who is also at the helm of the Polish champions.
Like him, Slovenian coach Veselin Vujovic is in double function, as currently his assistants have to take his job at HC PPD Zagreb. Montpellier are represented by nine players overall.
In total, 75 of those 177 players nominated so far are from VELUX EHF Champions League clubs, which means 42 percent - a little higher percentage compared to the women’s tournament (40%).
The value of this number is even higher, as with the absence of countries such as Spain, Russia, Iceland or Hungary, "top markets" of VELUX EHF Champions League players have not made it to Rio.
As it could be expected, the only club represented in the men and women Olympic handball tournament is the Macedonian side Vardar Skopje, thanks to three Croats. Their Spanish and Russian players have the time to prepare at home for the upcoming season.
Three non-European countries - Argentina, Egypt and Qatar - do not have any Champions League player in their squads as Qatar’s new team captain Danijel Saric just transferred from Barcelona to Doha. Olympic host Brazil and Tunisia each count on two Champions League players.
The ranking is a little bit different this time, as Telekom Veszprem and FC Barcelona Lassa - two regular top ranked clubs - “suffer” or maybe even profit from the elimination of Spain and Hungary on their way to Rio.
Eight-time EHF Champions League winners Barcelona have four players at Rio, while 2015 and 2016 finalists Veszprem only three.
In contrast, reigning Olympic and World champions France nearly only count on Champions League players: Adrian di Panda (Saint Raphael) is the only among those 15 nominated (including P accreditation), who is not signed by a VELUX EHF Champions League club. 10 of those 14 players play for PSG and Montpellier, in addition they come from Barcelona, Flensburg or Nantes.
Below France, Croatia (12 from 7 CL clubs), Slovenia, Poland (both 11) and Sweden (9) are the nations with the biggest number of Champions League players in their squads. Current EURO champion Germany have seven Champions League players among their 15 nominated players.
In total, 17 of 26 so far confirmed participants of the VELUX EHF Champions League Group Phase 2016/17 are represented in Rio.
TEXT: Björn Pazen / br