by Simon Daish
Claiming the Men’s Champions League trophy in dramatic style but German side Borussia Düsseldorf has been handed a tough opening to its title defence after being placed in Group A alongside French team AS Pontoise-Cergy, the surprise package of last year’s tournament Sporting Clube de Portugal and TTC Ostrava 2016 of the Czech Republic.
Four-time winners and last season’s runner up TTC Fakel-Gazprom Orenburg will share Group D with 2016 silver medallists Eslövs AI BTK of Denmark with French side GV Hennebont and debut makers from Germany, Post SV Mühlhausen.
In Group B TTSC UMMC, featuring China’s Fang Bo, will do battle with Polish opponents KS Dekorglass Dzialdowo, Austria’s SPG Walter Wels and France’s Stella Sport La Romagne. Group C hosts teams from Germany, Poland, France and Denmark with FC Saarbrücken meeting Bogoria Grodzisk Mazowiecki, Angers Vaillante and Roskilde BTK 61.
Fresh from celebrating its first Women’s Champions League success, Croatian outfit Dr. Casl is the top seeded team in Group A and with the additions of new signings Ni Xialian and Hu Melek will be hoping to negotiate ETTU Cup holders Metz TT and Hungarian opponents Budaorsi 2I SC.
TTC Berlin Eastside will take on 2015-2016 semi-finalists UCAM Cartagena with French newcomers Etival Clairefontaine ASRTT occupying the third spot in Group B.
The remaining six teams have been drawn into groups C and D: Linz AG Froschberg will fight it out with TT Saint-Quentinois and Sporting Clube de Portugal while two-time runner up KTS Enea Siarka Tarnobrzeg faces opposition from SKST Stavoimpex Hodonin and LZ Linz Froschberg.