Rock-solid Buducnost lead top five defences

In handball, you can lose a match, even when you score 40 goals, but you rarely lose a match by conceding fewer than 25 goals.

And as the old saying goes “attack wins you games, defence wins you titles,” so with that in mind, here is a look at the DELO WOMEN’S EHF Champions League’s top five teams in the defensive department

5. CSM Bucuresti

You cannot say that the Romanian runners-up are a squad completely on the same page and fully rehearsed, which is important for a strong defence as you must know what your teammates around you are going to do next.

The opposite holds true for CSM, who consistently change players and coaches, leaving their structure potentially quite fragile.

However, there is one cornerstone to hold the wall: Linnea Torstenson. The Swede, who returns from Nice, was already a key player in the defence during the club’s successful 2015/16 season. Together with Crina Pintea, she will form a wall of concrete.

The rest relies on something which is rarely seen in Bucharest – giving the coach and his players some time to form a structure.

4. Metz Handball

Half a year ago, Metz definitely would have been on top of this list, but then their “minister of defence“ Beatrice Edwige left to Györ and Xenia Smits had to undergo shoulder surgery.

This forces coach Emanuel Mayonnade to reorganise his centre block, which was the best in Europe last season. Nevertheless, Mayyonade can count on a well-rehearsed defensive structure, including the strong goalkeeper duo or Glauser and Kapitanovic.

3. Györi Audi ETO KC

Metz’s loss is the defending champions’ gain. Combining Amandine Leynaud in goal and defence boss Beatrice Edwige, who were two keys for France’s gold medals at the 2017 World Championship and EHF EURO 2018, is a true asset for Györ.

Having an experienced star such as Eduarda Amorim for both ends of the court is another factor. But Györ’s true strengths are rather in attack and it would be no fun to see the defending champions top all pre-season rankings.

2. Rostov-Don

The exact opposite of CSM Bucharest, the players know each other inside out, playing together for years at club level or the Russian national team, where they had Evgeny Trefilov, a master of defensive tactics, as their coach for years.

Taking a look upon the previous season shows that they had the lowest numbers of goals conceded of all DELO EHF FINAL4 participants with an average of 21.25 goals per match. Rostov can count on tall and powerful players such as Kseniya Makeeva, Lois Abbingh or Ana Sen as well as the defensive qualities added by the signing of line player Julia Behnke from Metzingen.

1. Buducnost

If you talk about defence in women’s handball, you cannot leave out Buducnost, the concrete company from Podgorica, Montenegro.

The mastermind behind all success of Buducnost and Montenegro is coach Dragan Adzic. When his teams win medals or trophies, it is never because they scored 40 or more goals, rather because of conceding fewer than 25.

The return of the wings Majda Mehmedovic and Jovanka Radicevic from CSM fits perfectly into this structure as they are sweepers, responsible for turnovers, counter-attacks and easy goals, while the rest of the team form the resilient defence again. It is not always the most attractive way of playing, but it certainly works.

TEXT: Björn Pazen / cor