Men’s European League Power rankings: Selby ranks the teams

The play-offs and quarter-finals of the Men’s European League are almost here. Ola Selby of GoHandball ranks the 12 teams.

Power rankings are our ranking of which of the teams have been the hottest so far. A team that has lost one game can be considered a better team than a team that has gone undefeated. It’s all about the quality of the teams.

Here are the Power rankings – Ola Selby’s ranking of the play-offs, and quarter-finals teams in the Men’s European League. And by the way, here are the play-offs match-ups:

Dinamo București – Bjerringbro-Silkeborg

Kadetten Schaffhausen – Füchse Berlin

RK Nexe – Rhein-Neckar Löwen

TSV Hannover-Burgdorf – IK Sävehof

1: Füchse Berlin

Mathias Gidsel, Denmark and Füchse Berlin. Photo: Ludvig Thunman / BILDBYRÅN

I could just write Mathias Gidsel and leave it at that. Jaron Siewert has the best player of the tournament on his team and that makes Füchse Berlin the favorite to win the whole thing.

Sure, they lost twice against in-form Sporting during the group phase, but that doesn’t change my opinion regarding this team. Mathias Gidsel, Lasse Andersson, and Dejan Milosavljev are all potential MVPs:s of the tournament, and everything less than a finals match for the German capital team would be a disappointment.

2: HBC Nantes

Viktor Gisli Hallgrimsson. Photo: Michael Erichsen / BILDBYRÅN

Nantes does not have a Mathias Gidsel on their team. But then again, (almost) no other team in the world has a player of Gidsel’s quality. But if you look at the rest of the team Nantes are comparable to Berlin.

Valero Rivera can still score at the highest level, Viktor Hallgrimssons top level in goal is up there among the best, and at the back, they have players like Alexandre Cavalcanti, Thibaud Briet, Aymeric Minne, and Jorge Maqueda.

Nantes are for obvious reasons not the favorite, but they should end up in the Final Four. And I won’t be surprised if they win it all.

3: SG Flensburg-Handewitt

Simon Pytlick, SG Flensburg-Handewitt. Photo: Ingrid Anderson-Jensen,

It has not been anywhere near a perfect season so far for new head coach Nicolej Krickau and his SG Flensburg-Handewitt. But in the European League, the German side has impressed all season long.

Lasse Möller has been the most productive player with his 52 goals and 38 assists, and Flensburg has rotated their team quite a bit considering the tight schedule with the Bundesliga and EL.

But when the games get bigger you can count on players like Jim Gottfridsson and Simon Pytlick to raise their game. Just like Nantes, Flensburg can win the competition and a place outside of the Final Four would not be good enough.

4: Sporting CP

Francisco Costa. Photo (archive): Michael Erichsen / BILDBYRÅN.

If you defeat Füchse Berlin twice in short time it’s obvious that your team is in form. That is what Sporting did in the Men’s European League this season. They are without a doubt a dark horse in this competition and a team that has shown that they can compete with the biggest teams.

Martim and Francisco Costa are what this team is all about. Younger brother “Kiko” has often been hailed the most, but it’s Martim that’s been the better player this season, at least from the Men’s Euros in January and up until now. The brothers have combined for 101 goals so far during the competition and will need to bring their A-game if Sporting is to continue their hot streak.

5: TSV Hannover-Burgdorf

Uladzislau Kulesh. Photo: Petter Arvidson / BILDBYRÅN

Hannover-Burgdorf performed at a high level in the Bundesliga in February. That however seemed to cost them a bit in the European League, where they lost a few games in a short time. As a matter of fact, Hannover lost all of their games during the Main round.

But do not underestimate this team. They don’t have the big stars like the top 4 teams, but they have a great TEAM and that ability is what has taken them this far.

But coach Christian Prokop still needs to put his individual hope into goal scorer Uladzislau Kulesh.

6: Bjerringbro-Silkeborg

Morten Olsen. Photo: Mathias Bergeld / BILDBYRÅN

Had 2 tough games against Flensburg and in those games, it was obvious that Bjerringbro-Silkeborg was not at the same level as the German club. But BSV are still to be respected in this tournament and when they play at their best they can compete with almost all teams in the European League.

Experience is not lacking in this team. Johan Sjöstrand, Rasmus Lauge, and Morten Olsen all have a lot of it, and surrounding them are young and talented players like Swedes back players William Bogojevic and Ludvig Hallbäck.

BSV has what it takes to make it to the quarter-finals, but their play-offs match-up against Dinamo Bucuresti is an open one.

7: Rhein-Neckar Löwen

Juri Knorr of Germany. Photo: Petter Arvidson / BILDBYRÅN

One of the biggest disappointments in European club handball this season. Rhein-Neckar Löwen, who looked to be rolling again after the appointment of Sebastian Hinze as head coach a few years ago, has taken several steps back this season.

But maybe their form is on the up, considering they have won their last 3 games in the European League. Maybe their focus has shifted from the Bundesliga, where their hope of claiming a European spot for next season is almost gone, to the European campaign this season.

And with players like Juri Knorr and Niclas Kirkelökke at the helm, Löwen can make a splash in the upcoming games.

8: Skjern Håndbold

Alfred Jönsson. Photo: Ludvig Thunman / BILDBYRÅN

Skjern won their Main round group and that is a great achievement. But let’s be honest: group II was probably the weakest group. Nothing should be taken away from Skjern and the team’s performance, but the slightly weaker group is why I am placing them, as a group winner, at the 8 spot.

Skjern has not had the best of seasons, but they are in the quarter-finals in the European League, which has to be considered a huge success. Viktor Bergholt was their best player in the group phase, the left winger scored 57 goals in total.

But Skjern making it past the quarter-finals would still be a huge upset.

9: IK Sävehof

Oli Mittun. Foto: Avdo Bilkanovic / BILDBYRÅN

One of the big positive surprises this season in the European League. For a team that lost their best player, Elias Ellefsen a Skipagötu, ahead of the season, and still making it past the group phase and Main round is very impressive.

But then again, Michael Apelgren is a tactical mastermind and he has a lot of talented young players in his squad. The player that stands out the most is Óli Mittún, the cousin of Skipagötu. The playmaker has scored 52 goals so far during the competition.

And let’s not forget the Möller brothers. Simon has played like one of the best goalkeepers of the tournament and when you see younger brother Felix play it’s easy to see why Aalborg has signed the pivot from next season. Still, Sävehof’s journey probably ends in the play-offs against Hannover.

10: RK Nexe

Veselin Vujovic. Foto: Avdo Bilkanovic / BILDBYRÅN

If all of Nexe’s games were to be played at their home they would have been a top team in Europe. But that’s not how handball works and that’s why Nexe is not at the top.

At home, they rarely lose in Europe. But away from home they rarely win. And that uncertainty surrounding the team is enough for me to put them behind teams like Skjern and Sävehof.

A player to enjoy in this team is talented goalkeeper Dominik Kuzmanovic. He is on his way to becoming a top keeper.

11: Dinamo București

Xavier Pascual. Photo: Ludvig Thunman / BILDBYRÅN

Xavier Pascual’s team ended up in a tough Main round against Füchse Berlin and Sporting, and they suffered because of it, ending up third in the group.

And for that reason, this team may be a bit underrated. Are they better than Nexe? Maybe. I would put Dinamo in the same category as Skjern, Sävehof, and Nexe.

A player to look out for? Andrii Akiminko. The right winger’s 66 goals are tied with Niclas Kirkelökke for the most in the competition.

12: Kadetten Schaffhausen

Odinn Thor Rikhardsson. Photo: Mathias Bergeld / BILDBYRÅN

The Swiss team won one game during the Main round: against Vojvodina. Besides that, they lost all of their games. That doesn’t make this a weak team, but it makes them one of the weakest teams in comparison to some of the big teams in this tournament.

And the journey probably ends in the play-offs for Kadetten, as they are playing the mighty Füchse Berlin. Can coach Hrvoje Horvat work his magic? Maybe, but I guess that it won’t be enough for Odinn Thor Rikhardsson, Joan Canellas, and the rest of Kadetten to upset the Germans.