The European Handball Champions League starts today with multiple viewing opportunities via the internet. The first game is tonight and features heavily favored Spanish club, Portland San Antonio vs. Romanian side Steaua Bucharest. On Saturday, the match of the week sees resurgent Zagreb hosting struggling German side Rhein-Neckar. Zagreb has gone on a spending spree to sign and bring home many of the top Croatian players who had been playing elsewhere in Europe while Rhein Neckar has already fired and hired a new coach after a poor start in the Bundesliga. On Sunday, Svendborg will host defending champion Ciudad Real. Of note, for North American fans, Svendborg has 2 Greenlanders on their roster, veteran Jakob Larsen and newcomer Minik Dahl Hoeg. The last game features Spanish side Ademar hosting French Champions Montpellier.
[b]A new format: [/b] As in previous years, the top two teams from each of the 8 groups will advance to the next round of competition. This year, however, those two teams will also take the results of their 2 matches with them to the next round of competition. As there is often a wide disparity between the teams participating in the tournament there has often been no suspense in determining which two teams will advance in some of the groups. With the results carrying over into the next Group Phase, however, goal differential will now play a key role in these early matches. This is particularly true for some of the matches that will be video streamed this weekend.
[b]Highlights show: [/b] Eurosport is producing a 26 minute highlight show which will include interviews and background stories. It’s not entirely clear, but it looks like this will be available on the EHF website.
[b]Match Schedule: [/b] http://www.ehfcl.com/men/2008-09/article/11787/Live+Stream+from+Portland
Thursday, 2 October at 20:30
Portland San Antonio (ESP) vs Steaua MFA (ROU)
Saturday, 4 October at 17:45
Croatia Osiguranje (CRO) vs Rhein-Neckar Löwen (GER)
Sunday, 5 October at 15:55
GOG Svendborg TGI (DEN) vs BM Ciudad Real (ESP)
Sunday, 5 October at 18:00
Reale Ademar (ESP) vs Montpellier HB (FRA)
All times listed are Central European Time (CET) which is 6 hours ahead of the North American East Coast. It is unclear as to whether the matches will be available on demand afterwards and we’ve asked the EHF for clarification.