Frankfurt / Main (dpa) - This Thursday starts the Handball Bundesliga in its 54th season. The most important dates and facts about the season.
TITELFAVORITEN: After four years without a championship title, champions THW Kiel wants to finally return to the handball throne. The 20-time champion is despite the departure of successful coach Alfred Gislason as the top favorite. Defending champion SG Flensburg-Handewitt is hot on the master hat-trick and will not clear the place in the sun without a fight. The Rhein-Neckar Löwen, champions in 2016 and 2017, want to get back on top with returnee Uwe Gensheimer.
UPSTONE: The HBW Balingen-Weilstetten to international Martin Strobel goes after two years in the second division in its twelfth Bundesliga season. For the first time in eleven years HSG Nordhorn-Lingen has been in the upper house for the ninth time.
GAME PLAN & TV: As in the preseason, the games usually take place on Thursdays (19.00) and Sundays (13.30 / 16.00). A few games will be played on Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday. All 306 games can be seen live at the pay-TV channel Sky, which offers a conference as usual on the main days of the show. The ARD shows a total of twelve games - including a semi-final and the final of the cup finals in early April in Hamburg.
TECHNIQUE: The Bundesliga introduces a worldwide unique analysis technology for the new season. Thanks to chips in balls and jerseys, the performance data of all players is recorded in real time. Throwing speed, jumping height, number of passes or energy consumed are just some of the data that will be collected in the future. The achievements of the actors become more tangible, the coverage - especially on TV - more diverse. "Handball is even more transparent," says HBL CEO Frank Bohmann.
SUPERCUP: Just one day before the Bundesliga kick-off, the first title will be awarded. Master SG Flensburg-Handewitt and cup winner THW Kiel play in Dusseldorf for the Supercup. It is the 100th Northern Derby between the eternal rivals.
EUROPACUP: Flensburg and Kiel represent the Bundesliga in the Champions League and want to end the dry spell of the German clubs, which were not represented in the final round in Cologne for three years. In the EHF Cup - where there have been 14 German victories in the past 15 years - the SC Magdeburg, the Rhein-Neckar Löwen, the MT Melsungen and the Füchse Berlin play.
NATIONAL TEAM: During the European Championship in January 2020, which will be held for the first time with 24 teams instead of the previous 16 teams, the league operation is traditionally suspended. There will be another game break in mid-April next year, when the DHB team is expected to fight for the Olympic ticket. Because of the summer games from 24 July to 9 August in Tokyo, the Bundesliga season already ends on May 14, 2020. Two days later, the all-star game between the national team and an international Bundesliga selection, which is always in the winter takes place.
Schedule Handball Bundesliga