Group phase gets thrilling ending

EHF / Danijela Vekić, Adrian Costeiu, Kevin Domas, Björn Pazen

The EHF European League Men group phase heads into a thrilling last round on Tuesday. Two tickets to the Last 16 are still up for grabs while the final standings in each group will determine the eight pairings for the next phase of the competition.

Going into the final round, 14 of the 16 teams that continue their journey in the EHF European League are already known. The two open spots will go to one team from group B – either FTC or PAUC Handball – and one from group D – either HC Eurofarm Pelister for HC Motor.

The article What teams need to do before the Last 16 lists all possible scenarios for Tuesday.


Fejer B.A.L.-Veszprém (HUN) vs SL Benfica (POR)
Tuesday 28 February, 17:00 CET, live on EHFTV

  • Veszprém cannot qualify for the Last 16 anymore; Benfica finish fourth and will play group B winners Flensburg next
  • Benfica won the reverse fixture 39:35 in round 3
  • Veszprém have conceded the most goals of any team in the competition: 319
  • Veszprém’s Benedek Éles: “We would like to play a similarly good and close match at home as we did at Benfica, thus saying goodbye to the EHF European League and thanking our fans for their support.”
  • last weekend, Veszprém lost to Cegléd (28:22) in the Hungarian league; Benfica defeated Vitória (29:27) in the Portuguese championship

Frisch Auf Göppingen (GER) vs Montpellier HB (FRA)
Tuesday 28 February, 18:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • Göppingen and Montpellier will finish on the top two spots; this match decides which team ranks first and which second
  • Göppingen need to win by at least eight to win the group; any other result will confirm Montpellier as the No. 1 team
  • Montpellier won the first game between the two teams 35:27 at home in round 3
  • Göppingen’s best scorer in the competition, Josip Sarac, has netted 47 times across nine games, three times more than Montpellier’s Kyllian Villeminot
  • Montpellier remain leaders of the French league after their weekend win against Créteil (36:27) while Göppingen lost at home to Rhein-Neckar Löwen (27:25)

Kadetten Schaffhausen (SUI) vs Tatran Presov (SVK)
Tuesday 28 February, 18:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • both teams already know their fate: Kadetten finish third, Presov will not advance
  • Kadetten took the two points the first time the two teams played against each other this season: 37:31
  • this season marks the third time in a row Schaffhausen make it to through the Last 16; last season, they even reached the quarter-finals but lost to Plock
  • Kadetten coach Adalsteinn Eyjolfsson: “It's our goal to keep the flow and to reach the highest points total in our history in the European league.”
  • both teams’ best scorers have netted almost the same number of goals: 54 for Kadetten’s Odinn Thor Rikhardsso, 53 for Presov’s Oliver Rabek
  • last weekend, both teams won their domestic games: Presov in Zahoraci (30:26) and Kadetten against Winterthur (31:24)
20230227 ELM R10 Preview Quote A Benfica
It will be a match in which every player has a chance to play and to participate in the EHF European League, especially those who haven’t playing much. It is a match to win – we are Benfica and we have to win every game.
Chema Rodríguez
SL Benfica head coach


Ystads IF HF (SWE) vs Valur (ISL)
Tuesday 28 February, 18:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • both sides are qualified for the Last 16, with Valur possibly finishing second, third, or fourth
  • Ysad won the reverse fixture 32:29 and will finish second or third
  • only two teams have scored more goals than Valur’s 303-goal tally this season: Füchse (314) and Montpellier (305)
  • last week, Ystad’s six-game unbeaten streak was ended by Flensburg (30:23), while Valur have won the last two games after a five-game winless run earlier in the group phase
  • the top two goalkeepers in the competition will face off: Valur’s Björgvin Pall Gustavsson (113 saves) and Ystad’s Niklas Kraft (105)

PAUC Handball (FRA) vs TM Benidorm (ESP)
Tuesday 28 February, 20:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • once a frontrunner in the group, PAUC have now lost five games in a row
  • after losing four of the last five games, Benidorm are out of contention for a Last 16 berth
  • PAUC can still make it to the Last 16 if they win and FTC lose and the end up with the better overall goal difference (currently PAUC have -18 and FTC -10)
  • left wing Xavier Labigang: “Against Benidorm, we won't have to do any calculations. We will have to put a lot of rhythm and win with as many goals as possible. We still strongly believe in qualification, even if it no longer depends solely on us.”
  • the two sides have the lowest attacking output in the group, each scoring 266 goals so far, an average of 29.5 goals per game
  • in the first match between the two sides, Benidorm earned one of their two wins of the season, 33:32, their only home win of the season

FTC (HUN) vs SG Flensburg-Handewitt (GER)
Tuesday 28 February, 20:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • FTC need a point to guarantee their Last 16 ticket but could also still advance in case of a defeat, depending on the result of the PAUC game
  • FTC have lost just one of their last five matches, and gathered two wins and two draws
  • only fellow German side Füchse have a better a record than Flensburg (eight wins, one defeat) so far in the group phase
  • FTC’s main issue has been their defence, one of two teams to concede at least 300 goals this season (301; only Veszprém conceded more: 315)
  • Flensburg are still without injured centre back Jim Gottfridsson but hope to welcome back Fritz Semper
20230227 ELM R10 Preview Quote B Ystad
Both teams have played a great group phase in the European League and deserve to fight for the second place behind Flensburg.
Oscar Carlén
Ystads IF HF head coach


Skjern Håndbold (DEN) vs Balatonfüredi KSE (HUN)
Tuesday 28 February, 18:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • Skjern earned a hard-fought win against Balatonfüred in round 3 (31:28) with eight-goal outings by Alfred Joel Jönsson and Eivind Tangen
  • Skjern secured the fourth position in the group; they will face Füchse in the Last 16
  • Balatonfüred are out of the race but could still finish fifth
  • Skjern’s Alfred Joel Jönsson is the competition’s fifth-best scorer with 57 goals
  • Skjern are fifth in Denmark after a loss to Nordsjælland (27:23); Balatonfüred are sixth in Hungary after a narrow 25-24 loss to OTP Bank - Pick Szeged

HC Alpla Hard (AUT) vs Fraikin BM. Granollers (ESP)
Tuesday 28 February, 20:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • their first encounter finished with a double-digit win for Granollers, 38:28
  • Hard are out of the race to the Last 16; Granollers will finish second or third
  • Hard coach Hannes Jón Jónsson: "We want to say a proper goodbye by showing a good performance. It was an incredibly valuable experience for all of us and I'm sure everyone will benefit greatly from it. We would like to confirm that Hard, and Handball Austria, belong in this competition."
  • both sides have a goalkeeper in the top five: Rangel Luan Da Rosa stopped 98 shots and Golub Doknic is at 95 saves
  • Granollers scored 288 goals in nine matches, making it 32 goals scored per game
  • Hard had a draw with leaders Krems in the Austrian league and remained in fourth position; Granollers drew with Anaitasuna (34:34) and are second behind Barça

Sporting CP (POR) vs RK Nexe (CRO)
Tuesday 28 February, 20:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • this is the encounter between two top teams; the round 3 game finished in Nexe’s favour: 32:31
  • if Sporting beat Nexe, they will finish first; Nexe can still win the group but also finish second or third
  • right wing Fahrudin Melic is the Croatian side’s top scorer with 55 goals; the Costa brothers, Francisco and Martim, netted 57 and 58 goals respectively for Sporting
  • Sporting back Francisco Costa: "To get that first place in the group is one of our goals for the season, in a very balanced group. We have a had a few very intense matches in the last few weeks, but we need to overcame the fact that we feel a bit tired, I'm sure our mind and desire to win will help us to forget the pain."
  • Nexe have the best defence of the group with 253 goals conceded, 28 goals per game
  • Portuguese league leaders Sporting defeated Aguas Santas 34:29; Nexe earned a convincing win against Gorica and share the first spot with PPD Zagreb in Croatia
20230227 ELM R10 Preview Quote D Motor
This time, it means all or nothing for us. We will fight hard to be part of the next round. in the last game our team showed what we are capable of so we are entering the court very self-confident and strong.
Oleksandr Kasai
HC Motor left wing


Aguas Santas Milaneza (POR) vs Füchse Berlin (GER)
Tuesday 28 February, 20:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • despite taking three points in their first two matches in 2023, Aguas Santas are out of the race for the play-offs since last week’s 33:26 defeat at Skanderborg
  • Füchse are the only team in this competition with nine wins from nine matches and are confirmed as group winners; they play Skjern in the Last 16
  • Füchse won the reverse fixture 34:20 and will give young squad members playing time on Tuesday
  • Milos Vujovic is Füchse’s top scorer with 55 goals, three more than teammate and 2023 world champion Jacob Holm
  • Füchse lead the Bundesliga after beating Melsungen; Aguas Santas lost in Portugal to fellow European League participants Sporting, 34:29

HC Eurofarm Pelister (MKD) vs HC Motor (UKR)
Tuesday 28 February, 20:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • the final Last 16 ticket from group D is at stake in the match
  • a draw is enough for Pelister to finish fourth; Motor must win to claim that fourth position and proceed to the Last 16
  • Motor’s Ihor Turchenko scored 13 goals against Irun and tops the scorer list with 78 strikes after nine matches
  • the 33:30 win in Düsseldorf against Motor on 29 November 2022 was Eurofarm’s last win; they had two draws and three defeats since
  • in the league of group winners in North Macedonia, Pelister beat their own second team 29:16

Bidasoa Irun (ESP) vs Skanderborg-Aarhus (DEN)
Tuesday 28 February, 20:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • Skanderborg will finish second in the group regardless the result of this match; Irun are also through and will finish either third or fourth
  • Irun will secure third spot if they do not lose; or if Pelister do not beat Motor in the simultaneous match
  • Bidasoa have lost the last three group matches and have not taken any point so far in 2023
  • Skanderborg-Aarhus captain Morten Balling: “I am proud of the team and our results in the group phase. We have one of the youngest teams in this year’s competition, and the young players have seemed unfazed playing against some of Europe’s top tier teams.”
  • Skanderborg-Aarhus won the first encounter clearly 38:27, when Jonathan Mollerup scorerd nine goals; with 42 goals, he is second-best scorer of his club behind Morten Balling (49)
  • in the Spanish league, Bidasoa Irun beat Valladolid 37:32 and rank fourth; Skanderborg beat Lemvig 34:29 and rank sixth in the Danish league
20230227 ELM R10 Preview Quote D Pelister
After the return of some injured players, we have more stability. With many matches in this period, we have to think positively. We got the rhythm back, even in the defeat in Berlin I saw good things.
Lars Walther
HC Eurofarm Pelister

Photos: Jeanette Lindeskog and others

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