EHF Champions League Live Streaming - 2017-18 season gets underway
The 2017-18 EHF Champions League Group Phase gets underway this weekend as Europe's elite return to action in the continent's premier club competition.
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As ever, FC Barcelona Lassa come into the new term as one of the favourites to not only reach the Final4 in Cologne but also lift the prestigious trophy in Germany and it's little wonder given their phenomenal domestic record in recent seasons.
Barca won the Liga ASOBAL de Balonmano last season once again and did so without tasting defeat during the entire campaign. In fact, Barcelona have gone four seasons in Spain's top flight unbeaten winning 121 matches in a row (159 in all domestic competitions).
The Catalans have claimed the last seven ASOBAL titles and have already lifted silverware this term after winning the 2017 IHF Super Globe. They beat Champions League title-holders HC Vardar in the semi-final and then Füchse Berlin in the decider.
Barcelona also recently won their 32nd ASOBAL Super Cup – their sixth in-a-row and 20th overall – defeating La Rioja 31:25.
The Spanish champions open their Group 1 campaign on Sunday at Bundesliga outfit Rhein-Neckar Lowen (1830 BST) and it will be interesting to see how they cope with the loss of two key players in the shape of Kiril Lazarov and Jesper Noddesbo during the close season.
Lazarov, top-scorer last term, has teamed up with HBC Nantes and Noddesbo departed Barcelona after 10 seasons in order to return to Denmark.
The nine-time champions last won the competition in 2015 and determined to get off to a flying start.
Elsewhere, 2012 champions THW Kiel of Germany kick off their campaign with a mouth-watering clash at home to big spending Paris Saint-Germain (1615).
After signing Sander Sagosen and Rodrigo Corrales, 2017 finalists PSG are expect to at least make it to Cologne with the prospect of a first Champions League title a very real possibility.
Paris may be in a tough group with four former winners (KS Vive Tauron Kielce, SG Flensburg-Handewitt, THW Kiel, and RK Celje Pivovarna Lasko) and another strong FINAL4 contender in the form of Telekom Veszprém HC but confidence is high following last season's showing.
"We want to go to Cologne, but we know how steep and tough the way there is," manager Bruno Martini told the tournament's official website.
"We will fight to top the group in the end to have the best possible position for the knock-out stage. But we all know this this is the hardest possible group, like last year."
No other side in the competition has more world class players in their set up. They boast four IHF World Players of the Year in Omeyer, Narcisse, Hansen and Karabatic and will surely be a major headache for their opponents.
Defending champions RK Vardar, meanwhile, open their campaign away to side Polish Wisla Plock at 1800 on Sunday.
KS Vive Kielce begin proceedings at Meshkov Brest on Saturday at 1500.
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