20220913

Season opens with top clashes in Hungary and Germany

EHF / Kevin Domas, Björn Pazen

Europe’s top-flight men’s club handball competition returns to action from a three-month break as the Machineseeker EHF Champions League 2022/23 throws off this week.

Round 1 includes two highly anticipated duels in Hungary – Telekom Veszprém HC vs Paris Saint-Germain HB in group A, and Pick Szeged vs Barça in group B – as well as the Match of the Week in Germany between THW Kiel and Elverum Handball.

Also, three teams that were not part of the EHF Champions League last season return to the competition in group A: GOG, SC Magdeburg, and Orlen Wisla Plock.

And group B will see the return of Mikkel Hansen to Denmark after 10 years with PSG in France as Aalborg Håndbold host RK Celje Pivovarna Lasko.

The Slovenian side and HBC Nantes, who visit 2022 finalists Lomza Industria Kielce, are the two teams in group B that are back in the EHF Champions League after a one-year absence.

20220913 CLM R1 Preview Quote
Porto have a lot of very physically strong players in defence. And in attack, they have good variety with players who have known each other for a long time. Porto have been joined this season by some players who bring high quality to the team. As for our match – I think small details will decide the match.
Xavier Sabate
Orlen Wisla Plock head coach

GROUP A

HC PPD Zagreb (CRO) vs GOG (DEN)
Wednesday 14 September, 20:45 CEST, live on EHFTV

  • this game will be the first in the EHF Champions League for GOG since the group phase in the 2019/20 season
  • Zagreb are going into their 29th EHF Champions League season, a record
  • Zagreb have ended their contract with new arrival Vuko Borozan even before the season has started
  • the teams have not met before in a European competition

Telekom Veszprém HC (HUN) vs Paris Saint-Germain HB (FRA)
Thursday 15 September, 18:45 CEST, live on EHFTV

  • Veszprém reached the EHF FINAL4 last season but finished fourth; PSG went out in the quarter-finals
  • the two teams have played against each other 14 times in the EHF Champions League since 2014
  • Veszprém won both confrontations in last season’s group phase: 34:31 at home, 40:39 in Paris
  • Veszprém goalkeeper Rodrigo Corrales: "The first game of the season is always special, because both sides are full of energy, but usually the teams are not quite ready yet at this point. After Remili’s departure, Kristopans will have a bigger role to play, and the return of Prandi is also big advantage for PSG. We are going to do everything to start the EHF Champions League season with a victory"
  • several players are expected to make the EHF Champions League debut: Bjarki Mar Elisson and Yehia Elderaa for Veszprém; Yoann Gibelin for PSG
  • both teams are coming off a domestic league win: Veszprém in Dabas (30:21); Paris in Nîmes (33:28)

CS Dinamo Bucuresti (ROU) vs SC Magdeburg (GER)
Thursday 15 September, 18:45 CEST, live on EHFTV

  • this match marks former champions Magdeburg’s return to the EHF Champions League after nearly 17 years (December 2005)
  • Dinamo, on the other hand, have been playing in the top flight each season since 2015/16
  • the teams previously met in the group phase of the EHF Cup 2016/17, when Magdeburg won both matches
  • Dinamo have won their first five games in the Romanian League, including against Timisoara last Friday (39:29)
  • Magdeburg defeated Wetzlar 32:28 last Sunday and have taken the maximum amount of points after three rounds in the Bundesliga

Orlen Wisla Plock (POL) vs FC Porto (POR)
Thursday 15 September, 20:45 CEST, live on EHFTV

  • Plock return to the EHF Champions League after two seasons in the EHF European League, where they reached the EHF Finals both times
  • Porto made the play-offs last season, but lost to Montpellier: 64:56 on aggregate
  • Plock won both matches when the teams also shared a group in the 2013/14 season: 28:22 and 24:20
  • Plock have started the Polish league with two straight wins; Porto lost the Portuguese Super Cup final against Benfica: 37:36 after extra time
20220913 CLM R1 Preview Quote 2
We saw last season that everyone wanted to beat us, and we still could win the title again. This away game in Szeged will be complicated, the arena will be completely full with 8,000 tickets sold, and I believe it will be a beautiful show. And if we can play our game, we will be able to win.
Thiagus Petrus
Barça defender

GROUP B

MOTW: THW Kiel (GER) vs Elverum Handball (NOR)
Wednesday 14 September, 18:45 CEST, live on EHFTV

  • Kiel signed two (former) Elverum players in the off-season: Swedish EHF EURO champion Erik Johansson, and Norwegian line player Petter Øverby (who played for Elverum in 2010-17)
  • Dominik Mathe transferred from Elverum to PSG
  • Kiel beat Elverum twice last season and have never lost a European cup match against a team from Norway; Elverum have lost all their eight matches against German opponents
  • Kiel did not lose any home match last season, recording seven wins and a draw
  • both teams won in their deomestic leagues last weekend: Kiel against Bergischer HC (35:29); Elverum against Fjellhammer (30:25)

Pick Szeged (HUN) vs Barça (ESP)
Wednesday 14 September, 18:45 CEST, live on EHFTV

  • Barça are the record champions with 10 titles; Szeged are yet to qualify for a EHF FINAL4 event
  • both teams work with a nearly unchanged squad compared to last season, though Barça have signed EHF EURO champions Hampus Wanne and Jonathan Carlsbogard
  • Szeged know how to beat Barça in a season opener: they did so in the 2019/20 season (31:28)
  • both teams have a Spanish coach: Szeged’s Juan Carlos Pastor and Barça’s Carlos Ortega
  • Pastor: "I am Spanish and I played against Barça many times, with Valladolid and with Szeged. It is a special opponent for me - not because they are Spanish, but because Barça were the best team last year in the EHF Champions League"
  • both teams had easy wins in their domestic leagues last weekend: Szeged won 39:25 against Cegléd; Barça defeated Cuenca 38:26

Lomza Industria Kielce (POL) vs HBC Nantes (FRA)
Wednesday 14 September, 20:45 CEST, live on EHFTV

  • Kielce were finalists last season; Nantes return after a one-year absence, in which they reached the quarter-finals of the EHF European League
  • Kielce’s squad includes four French players: new arrivals Nedim Remili and Benoit Kounkoud (both from PSG), Dylan Nahi and Nicolas Tournat
  • Nantes count on a new goalkeeper duo, Ivan Pesic and Viktor Hallgrímsson, since Emil Nielsen have moved to Barça
  • the match in Kielce marks the EHF Champions League debut for new Nantes coach Grégory Cojean
  • both teams claimed convincing wins in their domestic leagues last weekend: Kielce beat Szczecin 43:23; Nantes defeated Chambéry 30:21

Aalborg Håndbold (DEN) vs RK Celje Pivovarna Laško (SLO)
Thursday 15 September, 18:45 CEST, live on EHFTV

  • after 10 years at PSG in France, Mikkel Hansen is expected to play his first EHF Champions League game for Aalborg
  • Celje became Slovenian champions in the 2021/22 season; Aalborg were beaten by GOG in the final of the Danish league
  • Aalborg finished the group phase on a seven-win run last season, but lost in the quarter-finals to Veszprém
  • Aalborg left wing Buster Juul: "Really excited about being back. It is always a big thing for us the be a part of, and we were really disappointed last season not going to the EHF FINAL4. Now we have a clean sheet and we want to start this season with a win against Celje"
  • Celje play their 27th season in Europe’s top flight with a rejuvenated squad and after a one-year absence
  • Aalborg have started the Danish league with three wins from three matches; Celje won their season opener in Slovenia last weekend: 30:28 against Krka

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