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Date: 3/13/2019

The second stage of the Women’s EHF Champions League 2018/19, the main round, came to an end on Sunday after six rounds of exciting competition. The 16 teams that began the race to the trophy last October have now been reduced to eight, ready to play the quarter-finals from April 5 to 14.


Among the top eight teams are three of last season’s semi-finalists: Romanian side CSM Bucuresti, Russian club Rostov-Don and the reigning champions from Hungary, Györi Audi ETO KC. Two teams, both from Scandinavia, have reached the quarter-finals for the first time in history: Vipers Kristiansand from Norway and Danish side Odense HC. Rounding out the quarter-finalists are French club Metz Handball, Hungarian team FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria, and Montenegrin squad Buducnost.


The eight quarter-finalists reached the knock-out stage after securing places among the top four in their respective main round groups. Six lots of games were played in the main round, following the six rounds in the group matches phase.


The current champions Györi Audi ETO KC have made it to this stage of the season with a perfect record. Adding to their six wins in the group matches, the Hungarian side defeated Vipers and CSM twice each in the main round. The only blemish on their otherwise perfect record was the results against domestic rivals FTC, against whom Györ played two exciting draws.


Thanks to their 18 points, Györ topped main round Group 2 ahead of Vipers and FTC on 12 points. CSM placed fourth with 11 points, while Slovenian side RK Krim Mercator ranked fifth on five points and German club Thüringer HC placed sixth with two points after a single win. Krim and Thüringer HC are therefore out of the running for the 2018/19 title, as their season’s have come to an end with the final matches in the main round.


In Group 1, Metz Handball have drawn considerable attention with their impressive form through the main round in particular. The French side, led by new Netherlands women’s coach Emmanuel Mayonnade, had won all won all their main round games up until a defeat in the last match to already eliminated Kobenhavn Handball. Nevertheless, they had already secured first place in the group, finishing the phase on 15 points.


Rostov-Don also reached the 15-point mark in Group 1, but due to their two losses to Metz, ranked behind the French side. Buducnost placed third with 11 points, while behind them two Danish clubs fought for the final ticket to the quarter-finals. Though Odense and Kobenhavn both collected eight points, it was a victory over Kobenhavn in Round 5 that clinched Odense’s place in the knock-out stage. Kobenhavn ranked fifth and French team Brest Bretagne Handball placed sixth with three points.


In the quarter-finals, CSM will meet Metz, Odense will face Györ, FTC will play Rostov-Don and Buducnost will take on Vipers. The teams will play in a two-leg format, with the aggregate winners proceeding to the semi-finals at the DELO Women’s EHF FINAL4 event in Budapest.


Photo: Győri Audi ETO KC/Péter Szalmás