Today, for the ninth time in its history, Motor starts in the most prestigious club tournament in Europe – the Champions League. The current rally promises to be very difficult for the Ukrainian club. This is due to the insidious lot that sent the Cossacks to the most difficult group, but our team has also earned the reputation of a strong fighter in recent years and is clearly aiming at reaching the playoffs even in such a difficult company.

And the fight for the passage to the next stage of the competition will be really difficult. In octet B, besides Motor, there are five continental giants (Veszprem, Vive Kielce, PSG, Barcelona and Flensburg) and two more very serious teams – Portuguese Porto and Dynamo Bucharest “. Six teams advance to the playoffs from the group. Agree, it’s hard to imagine that the five of the aforementioned giants will fail the group stage and not make it into the postseason. But in the struggle between the champions of Portugal, Romania and Ukraine, perhaps, the owner of the one remaining ticket to the elimination games will be determined. In this regard, the very first match of the Champions League group stage against Portuguese Porto will be of great importance.

The Portuguese champion has recently become a very powerful team. The Swedish coach Magnus Andersson clearly had a hand in this. Three times Olympic silver medalist headed Porto in 2018 and during this time managed to bring the Portuguese club to the EHF Cup Final Four (season 2018/2019) and twice overcome the group round of the Champions League (seasons 2019/2020 and 2020/2021) … Moreover, over the past two seasons in the strongest European Cup, Porto managed to beat more than one top club (Pik Szeged, Vive Kielce, Vardar 1961 and others), and at the playoff stage of the last draw only by a smaller number goals scored on the road gave way to the quarterfinals Danish “Aalborg”, by the way, the future finalist of the tournament.

Porto has no top stars on the roster, but the team has a very well-played roster, and its backbone has been playing together for quite a long time. So, of the seven top scorers of the team in the last Champions League, only left welterweight Andre Gomez left the team. The rest of the leaders of the team in the persons of the right wing Antonio Areya Rodriguez, lineman Victor Itturiza Alvarez, point guard Ruy Sousa Martins, despite the tempting offers from the top clubs, remained with Porto. The Portuguese club was not very active in the transfer market in the offseason. Of the notable transitions, one can single out only the signing of the Cuban lineman from Sporting Pedro Valdes and the Danish goalkeeper Sebastian Frandsen, who played at home with Holstebro.

For Motor, the match against Porto will be the sixth this season. After winning the third place in the SEXA-League, Gintaras Savukinas’ wards managed to start in the national championship. Last Saturday “Motor” defeated GC “Odessa” at home – 44:21. In this match, Croatian right welterweight Luka Sebetic made his debut as part of the champions of Ukraine, who recovered from an injury. It is quite possible that Gintaras Savukinas will release the Balkan who is gaining shape in the game against the Portuguese champion.

It is worth noting that Motor and Porto played against each other in the Champions League quite recently. In the 2019/2020 season, at the group stage, the teams first drew in Portugal – 35:35, and a month and a half later, the champions of Ukraine beat the Portuguese club on their home court – 33:29.

Despite the fact that the Champions League is just beginning, the victory will be very important for Motor. Triumphs on their own site over direct competitors are the minimum program that the champion of Ukraine must fulfill in order to qualify from the group. Of course, the Portuguese club is very dangerous, but the Cossacks also have sufficient experience and human potential to start the tournament with a victory. I would like to believe that the final siren in the game against Porto will mark a successful start in the Champions League for Gintaras Savukinas’s charges.

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