Paris eye quarter-final berth, Dinamo need a point in MOTW

Björn Pazen & Kevin Domas

In the penultimate round of the Machineseeker EHF Champions League 2022/23 group phase, two group A teams could book direct quarter-final spots. Paris Saint-Germain Handball just need a point against Orlen Wisla Plock, while SC Magdeburg need a win in Zagreb and Telekom Veszprém HC to lose against FC Porto in order to finish in the top two spots.

Lower down the table, C.S. Dinamo Bucurest are almost in the play-offs, but have to take a point against GOG in Match of the Week on Thursday.

In group B, the two top spots are already confirmed for Barça and Industria Kielce, but the races for the last play-off spot and third place are still on: Aalborg Håndbold can book their ticket for the knock-out stage this week against Elverum Handball, while RK Celje Pivovarna Lasko need a miracle as they host THW Kiel.


HC PPD Zagreb (CRO) vs SC Magdeburg (GER)
Wednesday 22 February, 20:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • after 12 rounds, Magdeburg are second in the group with 16 points while Zagreb are sixth, with eight points but one game less
  • Zagreb’s game last week in Porto was postponed due to travelling difficulties for the Croatian side
  • Magdeburg are already qualified for the play-offs while Zagreb are still fighting to get through
  • Magdeburg won the first confrontation between the two teams in round 2, 35:25
  • Zagreb’s best scorer, Timur Dibirov, netted 60 times across the first 11 rounds, while Magdeburg’s Gisli Kristjansson scored 71 across 12 games
  • last weekend, Zagreb took the points against Gorica in the Croatian league (25:21) while Magdeburg were victorious in the Bundesliga against Hamburg (32:28)
20230221 CLM R13 Preview Zagreb
Magdeburg are playing extremely fast, constantly pressuring the opposition through the attacking transition. We'll have to be aggressive in defence and play maybe even above our realistic capabilities for 60 minutes. Everything is on us. We believe in ourselves, we believe that we have what it takes to play a competitive match against them. They have a favourite role going into this one, but I assure you we definitely won't surrender before the full-time buzzer.
Slavko Goluza
Coach, HC PPD Zagreb
20230221 CLM R13 Preview SCM
Zagreb have a strong team and a great audience. It will be difficult, but we want to secure second place with a win.
Philipp Weber
Left back, SC Magdeburg

MOTW: CS Dinamo Bucuresti (ROU) vs GOG (DEN)
Thursday 23 February, 18:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • the teams are next to each other in the group: GOG are fourth with 13 points while Dinamo are one spot down, with 11
  • GOG are already through to the play-offs, as they cannot be matched by seventh placed Wisla Plock anymore
  • Bucuresti, on the other hand, are almost there, but can definitely seal their place by getting a point on Thursday
  • the first confrontation between the two teams in round 2 ended in a 38:38 draw
  • two GOG players are among the top five scorers of the Champions League: Emil Madsen and Simon Pytlick, who scored 71 and 70 goals respectively so far
  • last weekend, GOG won the Danish cup, beating Skjern in the final (34:29), while Dinamo won their Romanian league game in Focsani (35:26)

Orlen Wisla Plock (POL) vs Paris Saint-Germain HB (FRA)
Thursday 23 February, 18:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • Paris are currently leaders of the group with 20 points, while Plock are second to last, with eight points
  • Paris are through and will secure one of the two quarter-final spots if they take a point across the last two remaining rounds
  • Plock can still hope for sixth place in the group, as they are only one point behind Zagreb, a team which has played one game less than them
  • Paris won the first game between the two teams in round 2 at home, 37:33
  • Plock have never been able to take a point from Paris in the five games the two sides played since 2015
  • last Sunday, Plock won 33:26 in the Polish league against Tarnow, while Paris won in Sélestat in the French league (34:31)
20230221 CLM R13 Preview Plock
Last time we fought to the end, but we knew that winning in Paris would be a very difficult task. In Plock we expect a completely different match, we already know how the Parisians play and we are more aware of how to approach this match so that it ends better than in France.
Lovro Mihic
Left wing, Orlen Wisla Plock

Telekom Veszprém HC (HUN) vs FC Porto (POR)
Thursday 23 February, 18:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • Veszprém are currently third in the group, with 16 points, while Porto are last, with three points and a game in hand
  • the Hungarian side has had one draw and two losses in its last three games in the Champions League : one draw and two losses
  • Veszprém are through to the play-offs and the quarter-finals are still possible – although Magdeburg have the head-to-head advantage
  • Porto still have a chance to make it through to the play-offs, but a loss would leave them relying on Zagreb and Plock also losing
  • in the first game between the two teams this season, Veszprém easily took the two points, 35:28
  • Veszprém remain leaders of the Hungarian league thanks to their weekend win against Dabas (42:31) while Porto also took the points, in Gaia (33:29), in their domestic league
20230221 CLM R13 Preview Veszprem
The atmosphere is good. We must stay together. We are not in the best position, but we can still go to the quarter-final, so I think nothing is lost. We will do our best against Porto and Paris, we want to win these two matches. We need to trust ourselves more. We have an amazing team, and we can beat everyone. In the last two matches we missed a lot of shots. If we find a solution to this, we will be much better.
Dragan Pechmalbec
Line player, Telekom Veszprém HC

FC Porto (POR) vs HC PPD Zagreb (CRO)
Sunday 26 February, 17:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • this game is rescheduled from round 12, as Zagreb experienced travelling difficulties on their way to Portugal
  • after 11 games, Porto are bottom of the group with three points, while Zagreb are sixth, with eight points
  • Porto won their first game in the Champions League this season in round 11 against Dinamo (32:23)
  • Zagreb took the points in the first confrontation between the two teams this season (29:23)
  • both teams can still hope for a play-offs ticket, but Zagreb could eliminate Porto if they were to win on Thursday against Magdeburg
  • Zagreb have taken points in their last two games away: in Plock (30:26) and Bucharest (27:27)
20230221 CLM R13 Preview Aalborg Elverum


Aalborg Håndbold (DEN) vs Elverum Handball (NOR)
Wednesday 22 February, 18:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • with nine points on their account, Aalborg are currently sixth and would secure a play-off spot with a win against Elverum; if Celje lose at Kiel, the Danish side is through regardless of their result
  • Elverum are the only club in both groups already out of the race for the play-offs, having only two points on their account
  • Aalborg have won all five previous encounters against Elverum, including a 33:25 victory in Norway in the first duel this season
  • the Danish side has two Norwegian internationals in its squad, both wing players: Kristian Bjørnsen and Sebastian Barthold
  • Aalborg did not have a domestic match last weekend, as they missed qualification for the Danish cup final tournament, while Elverum won 37:31 at Baekkelaget in the Norwegian league

THW Kiel (GER) vs RK Celje Pivovarna Laško (SLO)
Wednesday 22 February, 18:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • after losing 33:36 at Szeged last week, Kiel are out of the race for the direct quarter-final spots and currently rank fourth on 12 points, two below Nantes
  • Celje were the unluckiest team of round 12, as they lost 27:28 at home against Barça after leading until 15 seconds before the end
  • with six points on their account, Celje need to win at Kiel and against Aalborg and hope for Elverum to beat Aalborg to make it to the play-offs
  • in round 2, Celje sensationally beat Kiel 38:36 – their fourth win against THW in 13 duels
  • Celje’s Aleks Vlah is current top scorer of the Champions League with 81 goals. Kiel’s best scorer is Harald Reinkind with 49 strikes
  • Kiel are third in the German league after their 40:29 win against Hamm; Celje top the Slovenian league and won their last match 34:29 at Ormoz
20230221 CLM R13 Preview Kiel
Celje come to us without pressure and have nothing to lose. They are at the highest level when they can just play freely. We suffered a defeat in Celje and we definitely have to and want to put things right on Wednesday. But that won't be easy. Celje are seventh in the table, but they have a young team with quality that enjoys playing handball.
Miha Zarabec
Centre back, THW Kiel

Barça (ESP) vs OTP Bank-PICK Szeged (HUN)
Wednesday 22 February, 20:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • scoring the last four goals at Celje last week, Barça turned a 24:27 deficit into a 28:27 win and extended their series to 21 unbeaten Champions League matches in a row
  • with 11 victories and one draw (against Kiel), Barça have already confirmed their top status in th group and proceed to the quarter-finals
  • Szeged booked their play-off ticket by beating Kiel 36:33 last week, and currently rank fifth, two points below THW
  • Barça won the first duel of this season 35:28 - their 16th victory in 21 confrontations. Szeged’s last and only win at Palau Blaugrana dates back to 2008
  • the 35:32 against Huesca was Barça’s 18th victory in the same number of matches in the Spanish league season 2022/23, Szeged did not play in the Hungarian league last weekend
20230221 CLM R13 Preview Frade
The game against Pick Szeged will be very difficult. We expect a very different game from the first one back in September. They have improved a lot in the past few weeks. They do many different things on offence, with external shooting and also in the line game.
Luis Frade
Line player, Barça

HBC Nantes (FRA) vs Industria Kielce (POL)
Thursday 23 February, 20:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • the 33:40 at Kielce was Nantes’ biggest defeat of the season, the overall balance after only three previous duels is in favour of the Polish side by two victories and one defeat against HBC
  • Nantes had lost the last two home matches against Barça and Celje - and are already out of the race for the second position, being six points below Kielce, ranked third
  • the visitors confirmed second place and the ticket to the quarter-finals last week with a 33:28 victory against Aalborg, their 10th win in 12 matches
  • despite losing Nedim Remili to Veszprém, Kielce still have three French players in their squad: Dylan Nahi, Nicolas Tournat (who previously played for Nantes) and Benoit Kounkoud (currently injured)
  • both sides won their last matches in their domestic competitions: Nantes beat Limoges 37:27 and are third in the French league, Kielce won 40:25 against Kalisz and are second in Poland

Photos © Laurene Valroff

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We are in good mood, the goal is accomplished but we don’t go so far to France to play a friendly game. This is EHF CL and Talant Dujshebaev says "treat the next opponent like this would be a world champion” and in that way we are thinking about Nantes.
Krzysztof Lijewski
Coach, Industria Kielce

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