It’s only two more days until the fifth annual AFL Europe Champions League, hosted again in Amsterdam on Saturday, the 6th of April. Club teams from all across Europe will spend the day battling it out to see who comes out on top as the best men’s and women’s club side in Europe.
Both the West London Wildcats and the West Clare Waves will be returning as reigning champions of the tournament, but the two sides will be looking over their shoulders as they know they are the teams to beat.
For the 2019 edition of this major event in the AFL Europe calendar, 23 teams will descend on Amsterdam. In the men’s draw, there are 15 competing teams split between four pool’s and the women’s competition will see eight teams split into two pools.
EXPLAINING THE FIXTURE STRUCTURE
AFL Europe began the fixturing process by ranking all 23 clubs using the most recent three-year history of their league’s results in the tournament, in order to create a draw that would best deliver a fair fixture for all competing sides.
The resultant draw saw the 15 teams competing in the men’s division divided into three groups of four teams and one group of three teams via a ‘Ranked Draw’, while the eight sides contesting the women’s division were separated into two groups of four by the same process.
Given the disparity between the group sizes in the men’s draw, match length has been increased slightly for matches in Men’s Pool A (three teams) to ensure that playing and rest time is ultimately as even as possible between all 23 clubs across the day. As a result, the men’s Pool A matches will have 13-minute halves while every other pool game in men’s and women’s has 10-minute halves. All finals matches, including the grand finals, will all consist of 12-minute halves in all divisions.
In each group, teams will play each other once throughout the group stages, with the top side in each men’s pool, and top two sides in women’s pools progressing to semi-finals.
WHO PLAYS WHO?
In Pool A of the men’s draw, the Wandsworth Demons, Manchester Mosquitoes and Bristol Dockers will challenge each other for top spot. Due to the odd number of men’s teams, this pool has three teams compared to four teams in the rest. With the reigning AFL London premiers in Wandsworth taking on the AFLCNE premiers Manchester in the final pool match, this all-England match-up could decide who goes through to the semi-final.
Looking towards Pool B, the West London Wildcats will look to get off to a strong start in their bid to record a fifth Champions League in a row – the only team to have won the competition since its inception. Joining them are the Copenhagen Giants, Zagreb Dockers and the Prague Dragons. The 11:30am game between Copenhagen Giants and the Zagreb Dockers will be one to keep an eye on as both teams will be aiming to pounce on any games dropped by the Wildcats.
Next is Pool C, which will see all teams view themselves as favourites as the Belfast Redbacks, Hamburg Dockers, Edinburgh Bloods and Winterthur Lions battle it out. The Hamburg Dockers and Belfast Redbacks will view this as a perfect chance to push for a semi-final appearance, so their game at 1 pm on pitch four is set to be a thriller between two closely ranked sides.
The final group, Pool D, sees the Amsterdam Devils, Paris Cockerels, Norrtälje Dockers and Oslo Crows go against each other for a semi-final spot. On pitch four, the Paris Cockerels will play the Norrtälje Dockers in what could be a tight match between two well-matched sides who missed out on last year’s Champions League and will be looking to make their mark in 2019.
Over to the women’s competition, and the West Clare Waves, Port Malmo Lynx, Nottingham Scorpions and Amsterdam Devils make up Pool A.
Last year’s Champions, the West Clare Waves, will be the team to beat but the Port Malmo Lynx and Nottingham Scorpions are both strong teams coming off the back of good seasons last year, while Amsterdam Devils will be ready, playing in their first Champions League. Keep an eye on the opening game on pitch two, as Amsterdam Devils open proceedings as hosts and a new side against last year’s champions, the West Clare Waves.
In Pool B of the women’s, the Wandsworth Demons, Paris Cockerelles, Hamburg Dockers and Zagreb Panthers will be fighting it out for a top two spot which will result in a division one semi-final. The 12:30 pm game between Wandsworth Demons and Paris Cockerelles sees an England versus France match-up, which could also be the decider to see who finishes top in Pool B.
Kick-off for the day starts at 9:30am, with the presentations scheduled to take place around 6 pm. Make sure you tune in to all the AFL Europe social media channels to keep up to date with all the action.
2019 Team Previews:
Part One– Belfast Redbacks, Copenhagen Giants and Hamburg Dockers (Women’s).
Part Two– Paris Cockerels, Winterthur Lions and Amsterdam Devils (Women’s).
Part Three– Manchester Mosquitoes, Zagreb Cvjetno Dockers and Port Malmo Lynx.
Part Four– Oslo Crows, Norrtälje Dockers and Nottingham Scorpions.
Part Five– Wandsworth Demons, Prague Dragons and Zagreb Panthers.
Part Six– Edinburgh Bloods, Amsterdam Devils and Wandsworth Demons (Women’s).
Part Seven– Bristol Dockers, Hamburg Dockers and Paris Cockerelles.
Part Eight– West London Wildcats and West Clare Waves.