The best of the best in beach handball hit the shores of Sicily this week to contest one of the biggest prizes in the sport: the Beach Champions Cup.
All eyes will be on beach elite in Catania, Italy when the action gets under way on Thursday with a number of teams eyeing gold and a place in the beach history books.
So what is the deal? Who is playing who and how can you get involved? We are here to answer your burning questions ahead of the Beach Champions Cup 2019. So let’s get it started.
What is the Champions Cup?
The end-of-season spectacular is the highest level of club beach handball in Europe and showcases the domestic champions from countries from across the continent. The 2019 event is the sixth edition of the competition and the second in Catania with the previous editions held on the Spanish island if Gran Canaria.
Where is it taking place?
With one of the world’s most famous active volcanoes, Mount Etna, looming impressively over the city, the event location is one of the most iconic on the beach handball tour.
Catania, the largest city on the island of Sicily, is hosting the tournament for the second successive year. The event location takes place on the natural beach on the Catania coast at the Le Capannine Beach Club.
How does it work?
The men’s and women’s tournaments throw off on Thursday, 24 September at 10:00 hrs CEST, running through until Sunday. The women’s final takes place at 14:30 hrs CEST on Sunday and is followed quickly by the men’s gold medal match at 15:30 hrs CEST.
How do teams make it to the final? Well, the first two days will see the teams play in a round-robin format in the group stage to decide which teams advance to the elimination phase.
In the men’s competition, 16 teams have been divided into four groups of four, with the top two advancing directly to the quarter-finals. In the women’s tournament, there are three groups – two pools of four and one of five. The top two teams in each group also qualify for the quarter-final stage, along with the two best third-placed teams.
If teams do not make it out of the pool, elimination does not mean their stay in Sicily is over: sides continue to compete to determine their final ranking.
For all the standings and results, visit the Champions Cup section of the eurohandball.com.
Which teams are playing?
In total, 29 teams have arrived in Catania to fight for medals. In the men’s tournament, 14 different countries from across Europe will be represented. On the women’s side, 13 teams come from 11 nations.
Who is in the running to win?
Of the men’s teams, Croatian outfit Detono Zagreb are eyeing back-to-back titles following their triumph here in Catania 12 months ago. The team, who ended the ebt season top of the ebt ranking, face competition from Russians Ekaterinodar, who are looking to win gold for the fourth time following victories in 2014, 2015 and 2018. BHT Hurricanes – second last year – make a return to Catania, and the German side will be aiming to one better this time around.
In the women’s event, reigning champions Szentendrei NKE return to the scene of their 2018 triumph as the Hungarians go in search of a third title to add to their victory in 2015. GRD Leça lost in the final 12 months ago, and the Portuguese side will look to turn silver into gold. Spanish side Taberna El Panduro A M Team Almeria also hold strong claims having finished the ebt season in second place behind Westsite Amsterdam.
Where can I watch the action?
Matches from courts 1 and 2 will be streamed live on ehfTV throughout the week, with games from these courts also available on demand later in the day.
The EHF will be covering the tournament across social media, with live updates and stories on the EHF Beach Handball Instagram account, photographs and stories on the Facebook page and a variety of top action clips on the official YouTube channel.