Nantes set for next step on road to title defence
Four teams – Mosonmagyaróvári KC (HUN), Viborg HK (DEN), CS Minaur Baia Mare (ROU) and Lada (RUS) – will start their campaign in the group phase, which throws off in January 2022.
Several teams made a big step towards entering the group phase last week, while others still have all to play for in leg 2 this weekend.
Titleholders Les Neptunes de Nantes have one foot in the group phase after beating H 65 Höörs HK at home 39:24. The French side will be confident travelling to Sweden backed by their 15-goal lead for Sunday’s match.
- SG BBM Bietigheim and SCM Ramnicu Valcea, both DELO EHF Champions League contenders last season, are also looking good: in the first leg, the German side beat Norwegian opponents Tertnes Bergen 39:18 and the Romanian team defeated Super Amara Bera Bera from Spain 34:28
- Denmark's Herning-Ikast Håndbold have one foot in the next round following a 34:27 win away in Hungary against MTK Budapest
- HC Lokomotiva Zagreb from Croatia, EHF European Cup Women runners-up in 2020/21, have a more challenging task at hand in Poland, after their 25:21 home victory against MKS FunFloor Perla Lublin last week
- DVSC Schaeffler vs Magura Cisnadie (22:22) was the only of 12 first-round matches ending in a draw, leaving the tie open for Sunday when the Hungarian side travels to Romania
Russian sides on a brink of elimination
While Lada have been directly seeded into the group stage, they might well become Russia’s only representatives at that stage. Before the second-leg games, both Russian participants in round 3 seem on the brink of elimination after their defeats last weekend.
Former EHF Champions League winners HC Zvezda lost at home against MKS Zaglebie Lubin from Poland by nine goals (35:26), while Astrakhanochka face an even bigger task following their 11-goal defeat (36:25) at Sola HK, the Norwegian team that already proved too strong for another Russian team in the previous round, when they defeated Kuban.