Summary: Home sides dominate round; PSG and Vardar earn first points
Round 4 of the EHF Champions League Men saw four high-scoring matches on Wednesday, all won by the home sides. On Thursday, Porto, PSG and Vardar made it a clean sweep of the round for the home teams to shake up the group A standings.
- Porto look solid beating Szeged 25:19 in the MOTW, with a superb performance by goalkeeper Nikola Mitrevski
- in group A, Kielce clearly win against Brest, 34:27, while PSG and Vardar both earn their first wins: PSG beat Elverum 35:29 and Vardar defeat Flensburg 31:25
- in group B, Barça take a huge 45:27 win over Zagreb, Veszprém down Celje 39:24 and Aalborg defeat Nantes 32:24
It is time to farewell this exciting round headlined by big wins for home teams!
We leave you with this snap of Luc Abalo with his former PSG teammates.
Elverum's visit to PSG this round meant the French club could offer the iconic wing a proper goodbye, which was missed due to the Covid-19 pandemic's impact on the 2019/20 season. Playing for PSG for eight seasons, from 2012 to 2020, Abalo wore the PSG jersey for 310 games and scored 979 goals.
FRIDAY 16 OCTOBER
Courtney Gahan back with you on Friday morning to wrap up round 4.
Last night's Match of the Week featured one of the most memorable highlights in the season so far, and no doubt all Champions League fans are waking up this morning with one name still on their minds: Mitrevski!
That has me wondering, in the four rounds played so far, which Player of the Match, presented by IQONIQ, stood out to you the most? Have your say below!
THURSDAY 15 OCTOBER
As usual, we finish off the night with some of the best photos from the evening's matches. It's a great selection today so head over to social media and give a thumbs-up to your favourite pictures!
Check in on the blog tomorrow for reaction to the round's key moments and come back next week for round 5.
Here's a handy wrap-up of the results of the past two days: seven home wins, and some of them pretty signifcant.
The focus might have been on MOTW tonight, but over in Skopje there was a welcome return to the court for Vardar's Stojanche Stoilov. The line player netted eight times, but was also critical to several of his team's other goals. Read the match review here:
First win for Vardar, first loss for Flensburg
PSG had a strong team performance tonight, but one player stood out in the second half - left back Elohim Prandi, who joined the club from USAM Nimes Gard this summer and is playing his first EHF Champions League Men season.
Read our review to find out why Prandi's contribution made the difference:
Paris take first points against Elverum
Here's our review of the MOTW and the key players who were - and were not - there tonight:
Mitrevski masterclass lifts Porto past depleted Szeged
It's time for you to have your say about the night's action! Which of the three winning teams impressed you most? Vote now!
FULL-TIME in the last match of the day to complete, and Vardar have won their first game of the season. They beat the previously undefeated Flensburg 31:26.
Just watch this, and appreciate why Nikola Mitrevski has been named Player of the Week, presented by IQONIQ.
FULL-TIME: Porto have sealed their win against Szeged, who kept on battling even as the fatigue was showing. Final score, 25:19.
FULL-TIME: PSG have earned their first points of the season by beating Elverum 35:29. It's been a slow start for the French side but perhaps this shows they're back in the form their fans would normally expect.
Classic Mikkel Hansen here - such power into the net!
Into the last quarter and Porto have sparked back to life, inspired by an incredible save by Nikola Mitrevski that delighted our commentator Chris O'Reilly. They're now six goals up.
PSG have a five-goal advantage over Elverum, and Vardar have held off a tough Flensburg to ease out to 23:20. At one point Flensburg drew level, but Vardar kept their nerve to retake the lead.
Because Szeged have a limited number of players at their disposal some of the squad are playing out of their usual positions. Not that it bothered Mario Sostaric.
Nikola Mitrevski is having a superb night in the Porto goal, with a 46 per cent save percentage right now. Szeged coach Juan Carlos Pastor just can't believe that none of his side's efforts are making it past the keeper.
Szeged are playing a seven-on-six attack, but it's backfired as Porto have taken swift advantage of the empty net and scored two goals in quick succession.
If you popped away in the break it's time to settle back down as the teams are all back on court and preparing for the second half. It'll be interesting to see how Szeged's small squad cope with the intensity of this match and the pressure to close that gap with Porto - it's a tough ask.
HALF-TIME in all three matches and the home sides are looking good. In MOTW Porto now have a 15:10 lead against Szeged. PSG lead Elverum 17:13, and Vardar now lead Flensburg 17:15.
It's a night where the young players are making their mark. Just look at this save from Vardar's Marko Kizic - he's just 19!
Elsewhere, Elverum rallied somewhat from a very slow start and are now trailing PSG by three goals. It's also 14:11 for Vardar against Flensburg with five minutes of the half to play.
But it's not all about Cañellas. Szeged's 18-year-old right wing Daniel Kecskes has just scored his first EHF Champions League goal - good work by the youngster!
This man is proving critical for Szeged so far. Joan Cañellas has scored four of his team's five goals (Miklós Rosta netted the other).
Two goals apiece from Andre Gomes and Miguel Martins have helped put Porto 6:2 ahead after 11 minutes. It's a very solid start by the hosts, who are displaying both a strong attack and strong defence.
Early days in all three matches. Porto have the early lead in MOTW, PSG have stretched to a 3:0 lead against Elverum already, and it's all square between Vardar and Flensburg.
There are only 13 players in Szeged's squad today, facing a Porto side in full fitness. Keep an eye out for the Szeged goalkeeper Roland Mikler, who could be key for his side if he's on his usual form.
Only 10 minutes until throw-off for tonight's three matches. There's no precedent for tonight's MOTW as Porto and Szeged have never ever played each other before, so anything could happen in a group that remains pretty wide open. Make sure you tune into EHFTV for the MOTW and the two other clashes this evening: Vardar vs Flensburg and Paris Saint-Germain vs Elverum.
We are just under four hours away from tonight's matches, including the MOTW!
Be sure to follow our social media channels, especially the @ehfcl Instagram, for exclusive MOTW coverage, as well us here on the live blog of course.
Looking back to last night's action, Celje may have lost their match to Veszprém but we saw another great performance from 19-year-old Tadej Kljun. The right back is currently Celje's second top scorer, with 13 goals.
See some his round 4 highlights below!
It seems it was Barça's big win that impressed you the most on the opening night of the round. They currently lead our poll with just over 42% of the vote.
The poll will close right before tonight's matches throw off, so there is still time to have your say below!
Let's dive in to some facts about tonight's MOTW clash, which will see Porto and Szeged meet in a European club competition for the first time.
- both coaches have won the EHF Cup: Szeged’s Juan Carlos Pastor did it with the Hungarian club in 2014; Porto’s Magnus Andersson did so with Frisch Auf Göppingen in 2016 and 2017
- Szeged line player Bence Banhidi made the All-star Team for both the EHF EURO 2020 and the Champions League 2019/20
- Szeged boast three former Champions League winners: Jonas Källman (2006, 2008, 2009 with Ciudad Real), Bogdan Radivojevic (2014 with Flensburg) and Joan Canellas (2017 with Vardar)
- the Szeged squad includes players from 11 different countries; Porto have players from five nations at their disposal, including the only Colombian player in the Champions League, Jesus Hurtado Vergara
- Porto advanced from the Champions League group phase for the first time last season; Szeged have been in the Champions League quarter-final five times
- one of the two home games which Porto lost last season was against Hungarian opponents, Telekom Veszprém HC; their only other home defeat in the 2019/20 season came against THW Kiel
- Szeged have never played a Champions League game against a team from Portugal, though they met two Portuguese teams on their way to the EHF Cup title in 2013/14: S.L. Benfica in round 3 and Sporting CP in the quarter-final
- Porto have won the Portuguese league 21 times; Szeged the Hungarian league three times
It's all about group A tonight!
While Porto and Szeged battle it out in the MOTW, Flensburg will look to join group B teams Barça, Veszprém and Aalborg as the only sides in the competition with perfect records of four wins from four games. The German team will be meeting Vardar in Skopje, with the Macedonian club on the hunt for their first win of the season.
Meanwhile, PSG will also be targeting their first points of the season when they host Elverum, who bring two points into the encounter.
Szeged must be itching to step on court for the MOTW. The Hungarian side have yet to earn any points this season, having lost their only match so far away to Kielce.
Their MOTW hosts Porto have won one game, against Meshkov Brest in round 2, and been defeated by Elverum and Flensburg.
THURSDAY 15 OCTOBER
We are back for the second day of round 4 in the EHF Champions League Men! Courtney Gahan here to take you through the afternoon and the final countdown towards the last games of the round, including the Match of the Week.
That makes it a wrap for the opening night of round 4 in the EHF Champions League Men.
Thanks for joining us and we are happy to welcome you back here on our live live blog on Thursday.
P.S.: Don't forget to check out the best shots of the night!
I mentioned Barça's most-goals-in-a-single-match record in the EHF Champions League earlier, and tonight against Zagreb they came very close to hitting that milestone of 46 goals again.
However, their 2009 record remained just out of reach, as you can read in our last match review of tonight.
Zagreb would not have seriously expected to turn the tide tonight in Barcelona, but a 18-goal defeat will truly hit them, and new coach Vlado Sola.
Work to do! And for tonight, all they can do is say "Congratulations" to Barça.
All four matches on Wednesday ended in a clear win for the home team. But which of those four teams stood out for you? Tell us in the poll!
Result: Barça 45, Zagreb 27. Phew!
Our last game tonight, Barça against Zagreb, is being led flawlessly by referees Charlotte and Julie Bonaventura.
It is their fourth match in the EHF Champions League Men, having been in charge of three games in the 2019/20 season.
I am mentioning that because the Bonaventura sisters are one of 10 referee pairs, all female!, who will officiate at the Women's EHF EURO 2020 in Norway and Denmark in December.
The last review from tonight's earlier matches: here you read how Kielce took an important win over Meshkov Brest to occupy second spot in group A.
One of the many highlights coming from the Palau Blaugrana tonight.
More reviews from earlier tonight coming your way: here you can read how Aalborg made it four from four by defeating Nantes for the Danish side's best ever start to an EHF Champions League season.
With a team scoring 24 goals in the first half, it is time to get the record books out.
At first glance, two records could be on the cards in Palau Blaugrana tonight:
- Barça's club record for most goals in a single CL match - 46 against KIF Kolding in 2009;
- Zagreb's biggest defeat in a CL match - 43:21 against... Barça in 2015
Half-time in Spain, and the fourth substantial home victory of tonight is likely to come as Barça are 11 goals up against Zagreb, 24:13.
37 goals in one half... we have not seen that before in any EHF Champions League game this season.
We have some reviews from tonight online for you. Here you read how Veszprém continued their strong start to the season by downing Celje.
You got to feel for Sola and Zagreb... There just seems no way to stop this Barça side tonight, netting 16 (!) times in the opening quarter.
Time for a timeout: Barça storm into a 7:2 lead, so Zagreb head coach Sola needs to give his team additional instructions.
Imagine that you are appointed head coach at a club and the first EHF Champions League match with your new team is away at Barça...
Welcome to your new job, Vlado Sola!
The Zagreb head coach must turn the tide for the Croatians champions after starting the season with three straight defeats.
"It is not an easy task to take over the club in this kind of a situation .... I have to say it is an honour to lead a club like Zagreb," Sola says in this article on eurohandball.com.
Three down, one to go! Last, but certainly not least, on our Wednesday schedule is Barça against Zagreb, throwing off in 15 minutes.
The Spanish champions will need a win to follow Veszprém and Aalborg, who both extended their perfect records in group B to four wins from four matches earlier tonight.
And by now you surely know where you can watch Barça vs Zagreb... live on EHFTV of course.
Andreas Wolff gave yet another goalkeeping masterclass, helping Kielce to a comfortable win over Brest tonight.
Hurrah for the home teams!
> group A: Kielce vs Brest 34:27
> group B: Veszprém vs Celje 39:24
> group B: Aalborg vs Nantes 32:24
(see below for probably the best of Aalborg's 32 goals)
It is not Nantes' night in Denmark. The French side can't reproduce the kind of form that gave them that stunning away win at THW Kiel a few weeks ago.
27:18 down with 10 minutes left, they are now unlikely to keep Aalborg away from their fourth (!) straight win.
ICYMI: watch this Andreas Wolff save from the first half. (And if you already saw it, it is too good not to watch it again.)
My EHF colleague Björn Pazen makes me aware that Veszprém might be enjoying a huge half-time leading over Celje, in the battle between the Marguc brothers, the Celje player is well ahead:
Gasper Marguc 2, Gal Marguc 5...
Now this is what I call fire power...
So far this is the night of the home teams: Kielce hold a commanding 18:11 lead over Brest, and the exact same numbers apply to Veszprém against Celje. Meanwhile, Aalborg are up 16:9 against Nantes.
What can the visitors do in the second half?
This is how you want to start your match. Great steal, perfect finish!
Nantes are gradually reducing their substantial deficit from the opening minutes, closing the gap to hosts Aalborg now.
Lucky 7? After app. 10 minutes of play, all three home teams have scored seven times:
- Kielce vs Brest 7:5
- Veszprém vs Celje 7:4
- Aalborg vs Nantes 7:2
These are the direct links to our EHFTV live streams:
All three matches that are starting any minute now, have an interesting storyline:
- Kielce and Brest, both on four points from three games, will play to become the closest follower of group A leaders Flensburg, who are still perfect with six from three;
- both Veszprém (against Celje) and Aalborg (against Nantes) will put their 100% records in group B to the test;
- and the third team that is yet to drop a point in group B will be featured in our late game tonight, when Barça take on Zagreb.
So we won't mess around tonight and start with THREE games (Kielce vs Brest / Aalborg vs Nantes / Veszprém vs Celje) at the same time, all throwing off at 18:45 CEST.
Remember you can watch all the action live on EHFTV, and, yes, there is a multiscreen option so no need to pick just one game, you can watch them all!
Good evening! We are less than half an hour away from the throw-off of round 4 in the EHF Champions League Men 2020/21. We have four matches in total for you tonight and three more coming up tomorrow - and it is all LIVE on EHFTV!
Check today's schedule here:
In their first ever meeting tonight, there is a lot at stake for both Aalborg and Nantes.
While the French visitors are eager to add their second win of the season, the Danish hosts want to keep their winning streak intact on their way to, as team captain René Antonsen puts it on Instagram, "something great."
Throw-off is at 18:45 CEST live on EHFTV.
Both competing in their 26th campaign, Veszprém and Celje combined are bringing 52 seasons of EHF Champions League experience to the court tonight!
For all the battles those two icons of European club handball have fought against each other over the years, it is pretty unbelievable that Celje have left the court as winners only once: in November 2007, when they defeated Veszprém 28:23 in a home game.
Could the Slovenian side turn the tide and finally get their first win on Hungarian ground tonight? You can watch the game live on EHFTV at 18:45 CEST.
In the only group A game tonight, Kielce host Brest in a battle for second place behind flawless Flensburg.
EHF journalist Kevin Domas caught up with Kielce's Nicolas Tournat and concluded that the French line player has found his stride in Poland.
Read the interview with Tournat here.
This week, some of European club handball’s most famous faces are joining EHF Marketing and its official charity partner for the EHF Champions League Men, Plan International, by raising awareness following the International Day of the Girl Child.
In the fight against violence to young girls, this year’s campaign focuses on the topic of online harassment under the headline Free to be online? Girls’ and young women’s experiences of online harassment following Sunday’s (11 October) International Day of the Girl Child.
EHF Champions League Men clubs, plus stars such as Plan International ambassador Kentin Mahe, David Razgor, Lasse Svan and Adria Figueras, have lent their support to the campaign, which comes in the wake of a newly released survey conducted by Plan International and the subsequent launch of the global campaign #FreeToBeOnline.
Aalborg, Veszprém and Barça all head into this evening's encounters with 100% winning records in group B. With all three teams playing at home, we could see them all maintain that perfect start and it would be no surprise to see them do so.
Perhaps the team most in danger today is Aalborg as they face a weakened but spirited Nantes, who already scored a massive away win against Kiel in round 2.
Nantes goalkeeper Cyril Dumoulin Tweeted "After 3 'prestige' matches, here is a very important meeting against a direct opponent in Aalborg! The opportunity to be in tune with our ambition."
You can feel just how big this match is for them and it will be one to keep an eye on.
Just the one clash from group A this evening and it is a big one between two teams in joint-second place, Lomza Vive Kielce and HC Meshkov Brest.
In the 10 previous meetings, Kielce only lost one, back in 2017. However, the teams look much more evenly matched this time around, particularly after Brest's victory over PSG in the previous round. With Stas Skube running the Meshkov attack, a home victory is far from certain.
After being treated to three weeks in a row, I know round 3 feels like a long time ago, so let us refresh our memories of what happened by looking back at the best individual performances that week.
Good morning everyone! Did you miss the EHF Champions League Men last week? If so, never fear, it is back with a full schedule this Wednesday evening.
18:45 CEST - Aalborg vs Nantes, Veszprém vs Celje, Kielce vs Brest
20:45 CEST - Barça vs Zagreb
With a mere eight hours until throw-off, you have plenty of time to check out this week's preview piece.