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4 days ago - 2/14/2020

All to play for as Szeged host PSG in Match of the Week

In group A, it is decision time. The VELUX EHF Champions League Match of the Week between MOL-Pick Szeged and Paris Saint-Germain HB will have a lot more than just two points at stake. The winner of the confrontation will take a major advantage in the race for second place on the table. 

Meanwhile, Barça could move one win closer to the quarter-finals when they host HC PPD Zagreb. 

With their midweek win against Veszprém, THW Kiel have already secured first place in group B, but everything is still in play for the other teams. 

In round 12, a depleted PGE VIVE Kielce host FC Porto Sofarma, trying to secure a better place than their current fourth in the group. 

While HC Vardar lost two key players this week and see their Last 16 berth under threat, Brest target a late comeback that will see them leapfrog the title holders.

GROUP A
Elverum Handball (NOR) vs SG Flensburg-Handewitt (GER)
Saturday 15 February, 17:30 CET, live on ehfTV.com

  • this game will be the second this season hosted by Elverum in Lillehammer’s Hakons Hall. The first, against Paris Saint-Germain in October, broke Norway’s record attendance for a handball game, with 12,377 spectators

  • Elverum are currently seventh in the group, with three points. A loss on Saturday might signal the end of their hopes for the Last 16

  • the Norwegian side are on top of their domestic league, while Flensburg are second in the Bundesliga, behind THW Kiel

  • three Norway national team players will make their return to their native country this weekend: Magnus Joendal, Torbjoern Bergerud and Goeran Johannessen. Magnus Röd is out due to a foot injury

Barça (ESP) vs HC PPD Zagreb (CRO)
Saturday 15 February, 20:00 CET, live on ehfTV.com

  • Barça enjoyed the biggest victory of all group A matches in the first leg of this confrontation. The Spanish side won 36:19 in Zagreb

  • Barça have not lost an official game to Zagreb since 2012, when they endured a home defeat, 29:30, in the Champions League’s group phase

  • this game will see the most effective offence of the whole group phase (Barça, 386 goals scored after round 11) face the least prolific (Zagreb, 263 goals)

  • two Chinese players will travel to Barça with Zagreb to play their first ever Champions League game: right back Xueyan Yao and goalkeeper Quan Wang

Zagreb-Barca_Dolenec_565

Aalborg Handbold (DEN) vs RK Celje Pivovarna Lasko (SLO)
Sunday 16 February, 16:50 CET, live on ehfTV.com

  • Celje might secure a Last 16 berth, if they win in Denmark and Elverum and Zagreb do not take any points

  • Aalborg, on the other hand, earned their Last 16 ticket already. They cannot move any further up the table standings, since Paris and Szeged are seven points ahead

  • Aalborg snatched the two points in Slovenia in the first leg (29:28), after being behind by four at half-time

MOTW: MOL-Pick Szeged (HUN) vs Paris Saint-Germain HB (FRA)
Sunday 16 February, 17:00 CET, live on ehfTV.com

  • this Match of the Week might well decide who will finish second in group A. At the moment, the teams are level with 18 points

  • Paris won the first leg of the confrontation by five goals, 30:25

  • after missing the trip to Celje last weekend, Luka Karabatic and Luc Abalo will be back this weekend for this crucial game

  • Szeged have not lost a home Champions League match since December 2017, but they already drew twice this season

GROUP B
PGE Vive Kielce (POL) vs FC Porto Sofarma (POR)
Saturday 15 February, 15:00 CET, live on ehfTV.com

  • Kielce are fourth in the group, with 12 points, while Porto are only two points behind, in fifth place

  • Kielce playmaker Mariusz Jurkiewicz tore his ligaments against Montpellier and will face at least six months on the sidelines

  • the Polish side could be boosted by playmaker Igor Karacic’s comeback, after he was absent for the loss against Montpellier last weekend

  • both teams earned midweek wins in the domestic leagues: Kielce drubbed Gdansk, 27:17, while Porto cruised to a 31:22 win against Maia-Ismai

Porto-Kielce

Montpellier HB (FRA) vs HC Meshkov Brest (BLR)
Saturday 15 February, 17:15 CET, live on ehfTV.com

  • Montpellier can cut the gap to second-placed Veszprém to only one point if they win against Brest 

  • Brest have a three-point gap to Vardar, who are holding sixth place – the last spot to secure a Last 16 berth

  • the Belarusian side stopped an away losing skid of 12 games last week against Motor, and have won two of their last three games

  • Montpellier have scored the lowest number of goals in the group, 302, but they also have the lowest number of goals conceded, 298

  • the French side won the first mutual game between the teams, 27:25, in Belarus

  • this will be Montpellier’s 230th match in the VELUX EHF Champions League, a feat completed by only five other teams – Barça, Veszprém, THW Kiel, Celje and HC PPD Zagreb

HC Vardar (MKD) vs HC Motor Zaporozhye (UKR)
Saturday 15 February, 17:30 CET, live on ehfTV.com

  • Motor are in a must-win situation. If they fail to take the two points, they will be out of contention for a Last 16 berth

  • Vardar lost two players this week: right back Dainis Kristopans, who signed for Füchse Berlin, and playmaker Pavel Atman, who went to Spartak Moscow

  • Kristopans was Vardar’s second top scorer, with 42 goals in 10 games this season in the VELUX EHF Champions League

  • the Ukrainian side lost their last 10 away games, with their most recent away win coming against Nantes in November 2018

  • Vardar won the first match between the two sides 31:30 with a last-gasp comeback

Author: Kevin Domas / Adrian Costeiu / cg