Stoeva Sisters one of the big draws in Milan this week
Tough assignment for defending champions IMBC
Date: 6/19/2017 12:02 PM
Published by : Mark Phelan
It is that time of year again when the best clubs in Europe come together to battle it out for the crown of European champions. 2016 saw the tide turn as Issy Les Moulineaux of France broke the stranglehold of Russian giants Primorye Vladivostok who have dominated the modern era of the competition. 

As we move away from French soil for the first time in five years Issy return to defend their title and they bring with them the French champions BC Chambly Oise who have had serious desires on winning the title themselves since the tournament was held on their home patch back in Beauvais in 2013. 

Chambly come into the 2017 edition as third seeds but realistically have the most rounded squad to take on the might of the Russians who make the trip to Milano with a team that looks more like the Russian national squad. 

Primorye suffered in 2016 without a dedicated women’s singles player and they learned a valuable lesson in Tours. This year they have Olga Arkhangelskaya in their squad who will mop up most of the women’s singles points on offer from group stages right through to the knockout stages. 

The Russian have also added youth to their team bringing in Alina Davletova, one half of the European Junior mixed doubles champions and Anastasia Semenova who will also take some of the singles heat off Arkhangleskaya. With men such as Ivanov, Sozonov, Dremin, Grachev and Sirant in their ranks the Russian will be hotly tipped to win their seventh title since 2007. 

Lucas Corvee and Gaetan Mittleheisser were instrumental in Issy’s championship win in 2016 but with Mittleheisser out with a long term injury and also their European women’s singles bronze medallist Sabrina Jaquet unlikely to play the French start to get thin on the ground. 

The Stoeva sisters will of course destroy most of the opposition put in front of them but they cannot play every match and Issy might just struggle this year. 

Chambly have a lot to prove and not only the badminton community but also the club themselves would have expected a better return on their European investment over the past few years. When you look at the Chambly list of declared players then you begin to think this maybe their years. Experience and quality throughout with Matuesiak, Zieba, Heino, Kersaudy, Rouxel, Bankier, Corrales and Soraya De Visch Eijbergen all listed to travel. 

Add into the melting pot the participation of Swedish champions Fyrisfjadern and European club championship stalwarts Recreativo Ies La Orden from Spain all of a sudden the list of potential banana skin matches starts to stack up for the big three. 

The Swede’s will have the element of surprise on their side. However, with Borg, Ruponen, Eidestedt, Hogstrom, Fabbeke and Kuhl declared the rest will know precisely their pedigree. Henri Hurskainen is sidelined due to injury which might have a bearing on the Swedes medal chances. Abian leads Recreativo once again and the Spanish champions will look to a minimum of a repeat of their bronze medal from 12 months ago. 

A tournament of unique togetherness

Team events are rare in top level international badminton. That is why being part of a team and having the opportunity to represent you club or country tends to ignite a fire deep within for professional badminton players. 

The European club championships is as unique as the come. The tournament year on year allows some of the smallest amateur national championship winning clubs come together with the top professional teams into a unique melting pot of culture and togetherness. 

While most of the talk and come the medals most of the silverware gets dished out to the big guns the tournament itself would not be the same without the smaller clubs. 

Hosts Calvi Network BC Milano have thrived in the European Club Championships and clubs such as BC Jonglenster (Luxembourg), BK Valmiera (Latvia) and Lokomotiva Kosice (Slovakia) are not travelling to Milan to make up the numbers. They are travelling with purpose to test themselves against the best and their participation always bring with it the possibility of a major upset. 

The diversity of culture and clubs makes for an eclectic atmosphere and the 2017 edition of the European Club Championships is set to cement its status as Europe’s premier club championship. All the action gets underway in Milan on Tuesday 20th June with the group stages with the finals scheduled for Saturday 24th June. 

Badminton Europe will be on hand to stream all the action from all three courts via our YouTube channel HERE

For all the group draws for the 2017 European Club Championships click HERE

For all historical winners of Europe’s premier club championships click HERE

Article and archive images by Mark Phelan for Badminton Europe

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