SUMMARY: Barça joined by Kielce, Magdeburg, PSG at EHF FINAL4
All participants in the TruckScout24 EHF FINAL4 2023 have been confirmed with the conclusion of the Machineseeker EHF Champions League quarter-finals on Thursday. SC Magdeburg (winning the Match of the Week against Orlen Wisla Plock), Paris Saint-Germain HB, Barlinek Industria Kielce, and defending champions Barça are playing for the title at the event in Cologne on 17/18 June.
- TEAMS QUALIFIED FOR TRUCKSCOUT24 EHF FINAL4 2023:
MAGDEBURG, PSG, KIELCE, BARÇA
(semi-final draw on Tuesday 23 May in Cologne)
- second leg of Machineseeker EHF Champions League 2022/23 quarter-finals: on Wednesday, Magdeburg beat Plock 30:28 in the MOTW — 52:50 on aggregate — and PSG defeated THW Kiel 32:29 — 63:56 on aggregate to book their tickets
- on Thursday, Kielce beat Veszprém 31:27 — 60:56 on aggregate — and Barça defeat GOG 36:31 — 73:61 on aggregate — as both 2022 finalists return to Cologne on 17/18 June 2023
- watch all match highlights on the Home of Handball YouTube channel
- Courtney Gahan reported Wednesday evening, Eric Willemsen Thursday evening; all photos courtesy of the home teams
Thursday 18 May 2023
Cologne, here we come!
The quarter-finals have confirmed the four teams battling it out for the Machineseeker EHF Champions League 2022/23 title at the TruckScout24 EHF FINAL4 2023 on 17/18 June:
- SC Magdeburg – for the first time at the EHF FINAL4 (since 2010)
- Paris Saint-Germain HB – sixth time
- Barlinek Industria Kielce – sixth time
- Barça – 11th time
Interestingly, but not surprisingly, those are the four teams that finished in the top two of their respective groups earlier this season and skipped the play-offs.
What's next? The draw for the semi-finals takes place next Tuesday, 23 May, in Cologne.
That brings our live-blog coverage of the second leg of the quarter-finals to an end. We hope you enjoyed both nights as much as we did. For now, it is good night and flip through the best pictures of today in our gallery:
The quarter-finals ended with the 2022 finalists in action: runners-up Kielce and champions Barça. They both qualified for Cologne again – read the match reviews from EHF journalist Kevin Domas to find out how:
Quarter-finals done, so we know the big four for this year! We will learn at the draw in Cologne on Tuesday 23 may, who is playing who in the semi-finals of the TruckScout24 EHF FINAL4 2023 on 17 June.
Really curious what your prediction is: who is going to win that stunning trophy this year?! Give us your vote in the poll below:
Barça happy to be through, GOG happy with their European season overall. Here are the court-side reactions from Dika Mem and Tobias Thulin after the match:
Really happy, we did a really great job tonight. Once again, we reach the (EHF) FINAL4 so that is a beautiful performance from the group and from the club.
The result we got at home was difficult; seven goals (behind) is hard to come here. I think we should be proud of our campaign this year in the Champions League, we came to the quarter-final and we played against a very good team today.
22:10 RESULT | Barça vs GOG 36:31 — AGGREGATE 73:61
Congrats to Barça! The titleholders have never been in doubt after the first leg, and the seven-goal buffer has not come under any threat tonight. Still, GOG have kept the spirits high and they have had an impressive campaign in the Machineseeker EHF Champions League!
Without illusions but playing for their honour now, GOG do well to let the gap not grow. Five in it halfway through the second half.
Some prefer complicated attacking playing patterns to split open the opposing defence.
Some prefer this:
Here is your captain speaking, thanks for flying GOG Air:
21:20 HALF-TIME | Barça vs GOG 20:13
We are halfway through this match and Barça already lead by as many as they won the first leg. The overall advantage is 14...
Barça's Luis Frade and GOG's Emil Madsen, who is missing his fellow sharpshooter Simon Pytlick tonight (and missed a last-second penalty in the first half), both lead with five goals.
So far, Barça doing Barça things:
Team timeout GOG. Feels like mission impossible for GOG – 9:6 down, and 10 goals overall, against Barça after the opening quarter – but Nicolej Krickau is not giving in, of course, in what is more and more likely his last European match on the GOG bench.
Ten minutes on the clock, 7:4 to Barça. If GOG were to pull off the major upset here, we can say we did not see it coming in the opening 10 minutes...
No time to waste: all eyes on the titleholders now, as Barça are defending their seven-goal lead from the first leg against GOG, with the overall winner booking that last ticket to Cologne.
You can watch Barça vs GOG live on EHFTV now (geo-restrictions may apply).
So, Kielce go through, and that is exactly what the first signs of this match were in the opening minutes. Here are the court-side reactions from Arkadiusz Moryto and Manuel Strlek:
We now focus on the (domestic league) match against Plock, after that we can think about dreams at the (EHF) FINAL4. It's important to win this kind of games.
They were really good from the start of the match. We tried to change some things to get back into the game but we didn't manage to do this. We were not in the best shape today.
Yes, Kielce are back:
20:19 RESULT | KIELCE VS VESZPRÉM 31:27 — AGGREGATE 60:56
Congrats Kielce! The 2016 champions and 2022 finalists have just booked their trip to the TruckScout24 EHF FINAL4 2023!
Veszprém battled back in bits and pieces, but somehow they never really recovered from that disappointing start when they looked overwhelmed by Kielce and the whole entourage in the Hala Legionów.
Kielce vs Veszprém? We all expected a close battle. In reality, this is likely becoming Kielce's biggest ever home win against Veszprém... (The 'record' is 32:29, from their group phase encounter in September 2021.)
Barring a true miracle in the last four-and-a-halve minutes, Kielce are returning to Cologne in June! The 2022 finalists lead Veszprém 31:24 and the yellow Hala Legionów is slowly starting to explode..
The difference is eight with 12 minutes to go: 27:19 to Kielce. Hard to see Talant Dujshebaev's team giving this away in the closing stages. Szymon Sicko and Alex Dujshebaev wit six each the leading scorers.
Certainly not the score Momir Ilic wants to see, but in the seventh minute of the second half, Kielce are again six goals up on Veszprém.
19:27 HALF-TIME | Kielce vs Veszprém 18:12
That is six at the break... Led by Alex Dujshebaev, Kielce switch to a higher gear as soon as Veszprém have found some stride. The match is far from decided, but Momir Ilic must come up with an answer at the break or this match might run away from Veszprém much sooner than most had expected.
Normal service resumed: Kielce's lead cut back to two (10:8) as Veszprém start to score from open play – and how:
Arkadiusz Moryto is quick to show off his skills tonight:
Momir Ilic calling his first timeout. So far, Veszprém find no opening in Kielce's defence, and have troubles in their own defence, which is without Patrik Ligetvári tonight. The hosts lead 6:2 after 12 minutes.
Early in the match of course, but still...
Kielce leading 4:2 after 10 minutes. Veszprém only scoring from penalties so far: two times Andreas Nilsson.
Ready, steady, go! Watch Kielce vs Veszprém live on EHFTV here.
Veszprém coach Momir Ilic before the match: "Our team showed so many times their character. We have to believe that we can do it!
That's the spirit!
We throw off the evening in Kielce, where the 2016 champions host Veszprém in what is still a completely open affair after their 29:29 draw in Hungary a week ago. The teams have met 18 times before in EHF Champions League history, with Veszprém winning 11 times and Kielce five. Not that this gives any indication for what tonight will look look like...
... in fact, the only thing for sure is that the match in Kielce will look very yellow:
Let's start with defending champions Barça, who will close the quarter-finals against GOG at 20:45 CEST. Barça begin with a seven-goal cushion after last week's 37:30 win in Denmark, and it will soon become clear how comfortable that cushion really is.
Normally this feels like a done deal and one would expect we are about to witness the last match of GOG head coach Nicolej Krickau, who is leaving the club at the end of the season after six years in charge, as the club announced on their website two days ago.
Welcome back! Not long now... just 45 minutes until we throw off the last evening of the quarter-finals. You probably know it by now: two spots at the TruckScout24 EHF FINAL4 2023 were taken by Magdeburg and PSG yesterday, which leaves two spots still open for tonight.
Kielce or Veszprém? Barça or GOG?
Our coverage will take a break for around an hour before we build up to the first match of the evening!
Remember, you can keep track of all the action on this page... alternatively you can watch live on EHFTV or find regular clips and updates on social media @ehfcl
Nicolas Tournat has experienced the biggest stage many times, but that doesn't mean he's not excited ahead of such huge games
Try telling GOG players and fans that this one is all over! The Danish side have a huge task, needing to win by seven to go level with unbeaten Barça... but stranger things have happened in the EHF Champions League!
It's going to be a lively one in Poland this evening!
These two teams are used to making an annual appearance in Cologne and they will do anything to be there again this time.
Just to add to the drama, it finished level in Hungary last week! It's ALL TO BE DECIDED!
Barça took a big step towards the Truckscout24 EHF FINAL4 with a 37:30 win over GOG last week.
If the rest of the squad have the same hunger as Melvyn Richardson, they will be desperate to not just reach Cologne but take another title!
Good afternoon everyone and the warmest of welcomes to Thursday's coverage of the EHF Champions League Men quarter-final second legs!
Our three-hour countdown for Barlinek Industria Kielce vs Telekom Veszprém HC starts now, before Barça vs GOG later this evening, as we discover which two teams will take the last two tickets to Cologne!
Wednesday 17 May 2023
We come to the end of our live blog coverage of the first night of Machineseeker EHF Champions League second-leg quarter-finals, but there is still plenty of excitement ahead, with two more tickets to Cologne to be decided on Thursday night:
- 18:45 CEST Kielce vs Veszprém — first leg 29:29
- 20:45 CEST GOG vs Barça — first leg 30:37
While GOG face a gigantuan task in the defending title holders Barça, Veszprém take on Kielce on Polish ground in another completely open tie. Three of the four teams on court tomorrow night were part of the EHF FINAL4 2022, won by Barça, who beat Kielce in the final after a penalty shootout. The Polish side had beaten Veszprém in the semi-final to reach the trophy game.
Will we see a new EHF FINAL4 participant in GOG? Will Veszprém take revenge on Kielce and knock the Polish team out of the competition? Or will both 2021/22 finalists return to Cologne?
See you tomorrow to find out!
A spectacular night as the Machineseeker EHF Champions League second-leg quarter-finals got underway — and we're only halfway through, with two promising matches to come tomorrow night.
First, read our match reviews to recap all of tonight's action, as Magdeburg and PSG became the first semi-finalists of the season.
Time to enjoy PSG's big moment! Check out their celebration below, as the French side booked their return to Cologne after missing the EHF FINAL4 last season and playing the previous two editions.
I feel proud of this team. It’s really hard to reach the [EHF] FINAL4. Our opponents are tough in the Champions League. It’s a nice achievement for us — the last couple of years we couldn’t achieve that. That was the goal of the season.
We played with heart. We gave a lot. And I think that’s what gave us the win tonight.
22:18 RESULT | PSG VS THW KIEL 32:29 — aggregate 63:56
It was PSG's night in the end, as they take a three-goal win in the second leg and a clear victory on aggregate to follow Magdeburg to the TruckScout24 EHF FINAL4.
The clock ticks past the 50-minute mark with PSG in front 28:25 — 59:52 on aggregate. A Kiel comeback at this point is not impossible, but is certainly unlikely.
The German team have not have the upper hand since the opening five minutes of this encounter, and it really has been a match dominated by PSG. And so the trend of the home team in the second leg of the PSG-Kiel quarter-final being the side to progress to Cologne looks set to continue, after the same occurred in the last two seasons.
Kiel keep looking for new solutions as PSG pull further away. The French team have hit a five-goal lead twice, at 22:17 in the 37th and now at 25:20 in the 41st. Kiel have managed only momentary relief but have not come close to equalising the game, and certainly not to closing the aggregate gap.
While Kiel have rotated more extensively than PSG, the French team are doing just fine relying primarily on the leadership of Luc Steins in centre back (five goals) and his connection with right back Dainis Kristopans (six goals) as well as line player Kamil Syprzak (three).
The match in Paris resumes with the second half, as PSG prepare to hold off a determined Kiel who have a six-goal aggregate deficit to overcome in this period.
If PSG hold on and take the berth at the TruckScout24 EHF FINAL4, it will be their sixth participation overall and in the last eight editions of the pinnacle weekend event. Kiel are aiming to reach Cologne for the ninth time.
21:25 HALF-TIME | PSG VS THW KIEL 17:15
Kiel manage to decrease the gap that has stayed so steadily at three by one goal before half-time, and thereby reduce the task ahead — but as PSG still lead 48:42 on aggregate, it is not as close overall as it might appear.
30 minutes for Kiel to turn the tables here, while PSG are eyeing a return to the EHF FINAL4 after missing out last season.
Into the final five minutes of the first half now, and PSG are still sitting three goals in front — which means quite a clear aggregate lead, as the French team won the first leg by four goals. That means they currently lead the tie by a total of seven goals, at 46:39, and Kiel really have their work cut out for them now.
If the German side are defeated, this will be the last EHF Champions League match in the 'Zebra' jersey for Miha Zarabec, Sander Sagosen and Niklas Landin. For Sagosen, it would be goodbye after three seasons, while Zarabec has played for Kiel since 2017/18. But neither have served as long as Landin, who will surely go down in history as one of the most iconic players for the German team after his eight seasons in Kiel.
Timeout for Kiel as PSG hold a comfortable three-goal lead that the German side have not been able to shake. After Luc Steins netted for 5:4 in the sixth minute, PSG scored another two consecutive goals to turn it into a three-goal game — and there it has stayed quite steadily since. As we near the 20-minute mark, it's 11:8 for the French team.
The saves have slowed up a little, but PSG are still eclipsing Kiel between the posts at both ends, with a clearly superior shooting efficiency alongside their better save rate.
Individually, PSG back Dainis Kristopans is leading the scoring with five from five. Check out one of his best below.
Six minutes gone in the second of tonight's second-leg quarter-finals, and PSG have the edge at 5:4.
Although there is only one goal in it right now, PSG are leading on all fronts — the French side have an 83 per cent shooting accuracy compared to Kiel's 67 per cent, and Jannick Green has made two saves while his compatriot in Kiel's goal, Niklas Landin, has yet to stop a ball.
As we wait for the opening whistle in Paris, let's enjoy Magdeburg's special moment a little. Below, check out their celebration — and don't worry, Lucas Meister appears to be fine now, after a collision in the heat of the celebration.
And as for the usual MOTW routine, who else would earn the Player of the Match award but the incredible Kay Smits? The Dutch back had a huge outing as he helped his club reach the EHF FINAL4 for the first time.
One ticket for the TruckScout24 EHF FINAL4 booked, three more to go — and one to be decided in the next couple of hours! PSG and Kiel are set for throw-off at 20:45 CEST, so don't go anywhere — except to stock up on snacks — and join us on EHFTV.com for another thriller.
What a finish! Enjoy one of Mike Jensen's superb saves from the dying minutes as he helped Magdeburg make history.
Thank you for the incredible atmosphere in the hall. I've never seen so many away fans. It was fantastic. We can be very proud of ourselves, the fans and the city.
20:20 RESULT | MOTW MAGDEBURG VS PLOCK 30:28 — aggregate 52:50
Magdeburg hold on and take the MOTW victory — and much more importantly, the first berth in the TruckScout24 EHF FINAL4!
It will be the German side's first appearance in the event and their first EHF Champions League semi-final since 2004.
Are Magdeburg on the way to their first EHF FINAL4? With just over four minutes on the clock, the German team have hit a 28:26 lead — 50:48 on aggregate — and at this point such a gap can be absolutely decisive. In goal, Mike Jensen has made a run of great saves for Magdeburg, showing he is a real crunchtime king as he backs up his performance from the first leg.
Seven minutes on the clock as Plock equalise yet again, with Abel Serdio Guntin netting for 26:26 after almost 10 minutes of Magdeburg holding the lead.
Magdeburg right back Kay Smits has reached an incredible tally of 12 goals and is looking good for the Player of the Match award — although it's hard to believe that individual honour will matter too much in comparison with what's on the line with a win here.
Three other players have netted seven apiece: Smits fellow back Michael Damgaard, and Lovro Mihic and Sergei Kosorotov for Plock.
Smits and Damgaard have been a vital for Magdeburg in this match, well and truly leading the attack as they carve through Plock's defence — particularly in this second half. The two just keep getting more and more dangerous, but Plock have not found an answer for that yet.
The first two-goal distance of the MOTW! Lucas Meister is the one to do it for Magdeburg, as they hit a 22:20 advantage with 15 minutes on the clock.
A promising edge, more so than anything else seen so far in the match, but still way too much game time left for the difference to be decisive, especially considering Plock came from four goals down in the first leg to finish with a draw.
Nothing can stop this Magdeburg-Plock rollercoaster! The tension just keeps on building as the score stays level and the clock ticks on towards that critical moment the full-time buzzer sounds. At the 43-minute mark, it's still all square, at 20:20 — which puts the aggregate score at 42:42.
Magdeburg have dramatically improved their shooting accuracy this half, while Plock have dropped theirs, yet somehow they stay equal. In goal, the second half has so far seen an equal share, with three saves apiece from Plock's Marcel Jastrzebski and Magdeburg's Mike Jensen.
The MOTW resumes with all to play for in this 30 minutes — the half that will decide the first of the 2022/23 season tickets to Cologne!
Magdeburg's Dutch right back Kay Smits led the scoring chart in the opening half, with seven goals, including this beauty below.
While we wait for the MOTW to resume, let's jump ahead to the tonight's second quarter-final, PSG vs THW Kiel.
It is the third straight season that PSG and Kiel meet in the Champions League quarter-finals. So far, PSG went through to the EHF FINAL4 in 2021 and Kiel were the side to progress in 2022. Both times, it was the home side for the second leg that grabbed the ticket to Cologne, which seems a good omen for PSG.
In fact, Kiel have not won in PSG since November 2014.
19:24 HALF-TIME | MOTW MAGDEBURG VS PLOCK 13:13
Three halves played and the Magdeburg versus Plock tie is still completely level on aggregate, as we go to the half-time break in the MOTW with the score equal. 30 minutes left to decide the winner here — or will we see Plock go to penalties again, after they did so in the play-offs?
20 minutes in and it remains all level at 8:8. Both coaches — Xavi Sabate for Plock and Bennet Wiegert for Magdeburg — have used one timeout as they look for ways to create a gap in this still completely equal tie. In this match, we have not seen a score line bigger than one goal yet.
Below, check out a superb save from Plock goalkeeper Marcel Jastrzebski. In Magdeburg's goal, Mike Jensen has been replaced with Nikola Portner.
What an opening! It's 5:5 as we hit the 13-minute mark in the first of tonight's quarter-final clashes, although both teams have had their share of errors so far and have very low attacking percentages. Although Plock have recorded a higher number of turnovers than Magdeburg, their higher shooting rate — 71 per cent to Magdeburg's 40 per cent — has helped them keep level.
On an individual level, Magdeburg back Michael Damgaard had a superb opening, with three early goals. Plock wing Lovro Mihic matches his score tally with three for the Polish team. Mihic and fellow Croatian Tin Lucin are responsible for all Plock's goals so far.
We are one minute into the second-leg quarter-finals, with no goals yet after Plock started in attack and showed some nerves, losing the ball on an unforced error.
Magdeburg have started with Mike Jensen in goal, following his stellar performance in the reverse fixture — 15 saves at a rate of 40 per cent.
Although Magdeburg are somewhat plagued by injuries, with Omar Ingi Magnusson and Oscar Bergendahl sidelined along with Gisli Kristjansson, their line-up is still plenty mean and the atmosphere in GETEC Arena is certainly a factor on the German team's side. On Plock's side, there are no injuries. Will that become a key decisive factor?
It's time to switch on EHFTV and join us for the first of tonight's big games — MOTW Magdeburg vs Plock.
The last fact I'll leave you with before the opening whistle is that Magdeburg have a very strong record at home, with only one defeat in the whole Champions League season, versus PSG. Let's see if Plock can change that statistic.
Let's dive into some key facts about the MOTW! Whoever wins the opening second-leg quarter-final, Magdeburg or Plock, will book their first ever EHF FINAL4 berth. Neither team have made it since the format was introduced in 2010 — and Plock have never even reached the quarter-finals, so it would be a huge fairytale for the Polish team to make it to the season's final weekend.
Magdeburg last played the quarter-finals in 2004, when they also reached the semi-finals for the last time. The German side won the EHF Champions League title in the old format in 2002, beating Veszprém in the two-leg final.
The teams arrived in this stage with completely different seasons behind them: Magdeburg as direct quarter-finalists after finishing second in group A, while Plock ranked sixth in the group and only just scraped into the play-offs in the last round. Then, they treated us to one of the most exciting play-off ties, as penalties were required to separate them from Nantes.
This is not the first big match between the teams — they played each other in the EHF European League semi-final two seasons ago, with Magdeburg winning by one goal and going on to lift the trophy.
If Plock make it to Cologne, they will be only the second Polish team, after Kielce, to reach that milestone.
Good evening and welcome to the continued live blog coverage of the Machineseeker EHF Champions League quarter-finals. I'm Courtney Gahan, taking over from Eric Willemsen who guided you through the afternoon, and we have a very exciting evening ahead!
The first of the second-leg quarter-finals is less than an hour from throw-off, as we get the last battles for places in Cologne underway with the Match of the Week in Magdeburg.
In the first leg in Plock, Magdeburg suffered a serious blow as their top scorer (76 goals this season) and top assist maker (41 assists) Gisli Thorgeir Kristjansson was injured and will now miss the rest of the reason. No doubt his absence may be felt by the German side.
Aside from that, what else will influence this wide-open duel? Data analyst Julian Rux provides insights in the analysis below.
While Magdeburg struggled to score more than 22 goals last week, their goalkeeper Mike Jensen excelled between the posts to make sure the German side conceded only 22 goals, too. In his last season with Magdeburg, Jensen certainly dreams of making it to Cologne, as he has revealed to EHF journalist Björn Pazen for this feature:
We start this second leg of the quarter-finals in style: with the Match of the Week.
Magdeburg seemed to be building a healthy buffer when they led Plock 22:18 with five minutes left of their first leg last week. However, the Polish hosts hit back with a 4:0 run and just missed the chance in the closing seconds to even win it.
We we are all square for Magdeburg against Plock, two teams that are set for their fourth duel this season: in the group phase they both won their respective home match, before they settled for that draw last week.
In the three seasons he has been playing in the EHF Champions League with PSG, he has met Kiel in the quarter-finals each time. Ferran Sole knows that his team's 31:27 win from last week has not decided this tie yet, he tells EHF journalist Kevin Domas in this feature:
While we see both 2022 finalists in action on Thursday – Kielce taking on Veszprém, Barça hosting GOG – we will now focus on the two matches tonight.
We close the evening with PSG vs Kiel, a tie that is a quarter-final pairing for the third year in succession, with each team advancing to the EHF FINAL4 once: PSG in 2021 (63:59 on aggregate), Kiel last year (63:62 on aggregate).
PSG took home a four-goal advantage from Germany last week (31:27) and seem strong favourites to finish the job in Paris tonight and book another trip to Cologne. Kiel are in the middle of a intense schedule, including an ongoing fight with Magdeburg for the Bundesliga title, so fatigue might play a role. Anyway, four goals sound more that it really is...
What happened in the first leg last week? What is the latest on the eight quarter-final teams? Get up to date with our preview, with bullet-point style info on all four matches:
Good afternoon and welcome to the live blog for the all-decisive second leg of the quarter-finals in the Machineseeker EHF Champions League!
Over the next 30 hours or so we are going to find out which four teams are on the starting grid for the TruckScout24 EHF FINAL4 next month. There has been a lot of talk after the first leg last week, with many believing that two quarter-finals are wide open (true!) and two are decided (not so sure!).
Anyway, here are the four matches tonight and tomorrow that present us with the four teams for Cologne: