Plock host GOG in MOTW; Barça challenge Magdeburg
In group A of the Machineseeker EHF Champions League, all the winning teams from round 1 will play at home this week, including debutants Kolstad Handball hosting last season’s runners-up Industria Kielce.
In group B, the four winners of the first matchday will lock horns with the four losing teams, highlighted by the top clash between record champions Barça and current titleholders Magdeburg, and the MOTW between Orlen Wisla Plock and GOG, which are led by new head coach Mikkel Voigt.
Aalborg Håndbold (DEN) vs HC Eurofarm Pelister (MKD)
Wednesday 20 September, 20:45 CEST, live on EHFTV
- Aalborg produced one f the surprises of round 1 by beating Kielce, while Pelister lost at home to newcomers Kolstad
- the two teams have not met before in a European club competition
- two Danish players play for Pelister this season: left back Kasper Kisum and line player Andreas Johann Nielsen
- one player in each team has the EHF Champions League before: Aalborg’s Niklas Landin and Pelister’s Khelifa Ghedbane
- last weekend, Aalborg took the points against SonderjyskE (32:27), while Pelister were defeated by Vardar (30:25)
I am very proud of the team for how they came out to the first game in Kielce. They kept a high intensity and patience throughout the whole game, which got rewarded with a win. We need to take that with us into the new game on Wednesday when we meet Pelister for the first time ever.
Aalborg is a team that played in the EHF Champions League final two seasons ago. This is our second match where we have to play against a well-known Scandinavian school. I think we have a tough match ahead of us, but we will do our best to represent Eurofarm Pelister and Macedonian handball in Aalborg. Aalborg's team has been created by young players and mega-stars Hansen and Landin. We really have a difficult mission ahead of us. We will do everything to improve the impression from the first round in the EHF Champions League.
- while Kostad made a triumphant entrée into the EHF Champions League against Pelister, Kielce suffered a surprise home defeat against Aalborg last week
- this is the first ever meeting between the two teams
- Kielce’s Szymon Sicko was the best scorer of round 1, with 10 goals; Kolstad’s Adrian Aalberg and Sigvaldi Gudjonsson scored nine and eight times, respectively
- last weekend, Kielce added another domestic win, against Tarnów (45:24); Kolstad beat Halden in the Norwegian league (35:22)
I was surprised by the size and certainty of Kolstad's victory against Pelister. This win certainly made our opponents dream of participating in the EHF FINAL4. But when you start looking at their roster, you understand it: Sander Sagosen, Gøran Johannessen, Torbjørn Bergerud... Our defeat against Aalborg still hurts us, but our goal does not change. We want to win every next match and take first place in the group.
- in round 1, Kiel defeated Zagreb 30:23 in the first Match of the Week of the season; Szeged saw Mario Sostaric score nine goals but still went down against PSG (31:29)
- after 14 duels, Kiel lead the head-to-head against Szeged 8-5, with one draw
- the teams also shared a group last season, when both wo their respective home game – 34:29 in Kiel, 36:33 in Szeged
- Szeged defeated Komló (37:24) in the Hungarian league; Kiel had no game scheduled
That will be an absolute top game at home. We want to start a hopefully good season with our fans. It will be a 50/50 game, Szeged brings incredible quality. I think they are eager to show that they are better than last year. But we have that ambition too. We have to find good solutions against their defensive bulwark and be mobile. Filip has a plan, we have to implement it now.
Paris Saint-Germain Handball (FRA) vs HC Zagreb (CRO)
Thursday 21 September, 18:45 CEST, live on EHFTV
- PSG won their opener in Szeged last week, while Zagreb clearly lost the MOTW at home against Kiel
- Zagreb head coach Slavko Goluza was released from his duties after round 1, with assistant coach Andrija Nikolic taking over temporarily
- PSG’s Jacob Holm has recovered from his knee injury and is expected to play
- only one player has worn the jerseys of both teams in his career: Jakov Gojun
- last weekend, both teams won their domestic game: PSG in Ivry (38:34), Zagreb against Sesvete (36:30)
We went back to the intensity of the Champions League last week with a very big game in Szeged. We showed composure in the final minutes to win. We need to build on that first win by playing hard and strong against Zagreb this week. It's up to us to show that it's always difficult for our opponents to play and win at Coubertin.
One of the hardest, if not the hardest away game of the season. We're facing a team that has quality players in every position. I feel like we'll have to find a way to slow down Luc Steins and Kamil Syprzak, who are really playing in a very good form. We went through a coaching change, and as a result we're travelling to Paris with a slightly different game plan. Of course, our main goal is to give our absolute best to deliver a strong, physical performance. We all believe we can play much better than we did a week ago against Kiel.
- GOG beat Celje in round 1 last week but still parted ways with new head coach Ian Marko Fog the following day, citing “disagreement about the sporting direction” as the main reason for the decision
- Mikkel Voigt, who was assistant under Fog, takes over for the rest of the season
- Plock want to bounce back in the MOTW after narrowly losing in Porto, going down 24:23 after leading by four goals early in that match
- Plock and GOG have met six times before, with always the home team taking the win
- Plock coach Xavier Sabate: "We will need our eighth player a lot, so I hope the hall will be full with our fans supporting us, because every point in the upcoming meeting against GOG will matter"
- GOG dropped a point in their first domestic match under Voigt, drawing with Hostebro (36:36) last weekend; Plock easily beat Ostrów Wielkopolksi (31:23)
I am sure there will be a great atmosphere and of course we want to win our first clash at home. I think we have a really difficult task ahead of us, because GOG are also a great team that presents a lot of quality, despite the changes in staff and players. The difference between us and them is really small, so in my opinion the final result will be decided by the details.
- Celje, playing their 28th EHF Champions League season, have never played Porto before; the Portuguese side have never faced a Slovenian team in their 13 topflight seasons
- last week, Celje held the lead at GOG several times but ultimately lost by two (38:36) despite eight goals of Stefan Zabic
- Porto earned a late win over Plock in their first European match under new coach Carlos Resende
- Celje right wing Luka Perić: "FC Porto are a really good team. They are always looking for opponents' mistakes which they convert in to goal-scoring opportunities. Our main focus will be to reduce the technical faults from previous matches"
- Celje still wait for their first victory in the Slovenian league after a 33:33 draw with Ivancna Gorica; leaders Porto beat Resende’s former club FC Gaia 38:21 in the Portuguese league
On Wednesday we play against the very good team of FC Porto, so we expect a very good performance from both teams. FC Porto is a very experienced team that has been playing together for some time, their team core consists of Portuguese national players. They showed in their first home match against Wisla that they have high ambitions. For sure they come to Celje with the same plan, but we have to stand squarely from the first minute.
It's the first game home for RK Celje Pivovarna Laško, so I believe they want to bring a great game for their fans. I'm very pleased with where my team is right now, but we all know that this is just the beginning and there's a lot to be done. So for now we're going to continue to work hard and be better than we were last game.
- four French players are part of Veszprém’s squad, including former Montpellier stars Hugo Descat, who swapped sides this summer, and Ludovic Fabregas, who left Montpellier in 2018 and has now arrived from Barça
- Veszprém underlined their ambitions with a 33:28 away win at defending champions Magdeburg; Montpellier were supported by 7,500 fans but lost their opener against Barça: 30:25
- Veszprém won 11 of the previous 16 duels with Montpellier, which include the 2016/17 quarter-finals, both won by the Hungarian side
- in their last three duels, 25 goals were enough to win each time: 25:19 and 24:23 for Veszprém, and 23:18 for Montpellier
- Veszprém coach Momir Ilic: "We are preparing with roughly the same feelings and enthusiasm as we did for the defending champions last week. That was just one match in the group stage, worth two points, just like the others. It is still early in the season; I can't say anything other than that a lot of work lies ahead of us. We have to work harder than our opponents"
- in their domestic leagues, both teams won last weekend: Montpellier beat Chambéry 32:26, Veszprém beat PLER 37:21
There are no easy matches in the Champions League, and this one will not be either. Montpellier is an absolutely tough opponent. They are physically strong and run a lot. They also have good shooters, so I expect a difficult game. However, we will play at home in front of our own fans. Thus, we have to perform well to win our first game at home in the Champions League.
- Barça have lost the last three duels against Magdeburg: the IHF Super Globe finals in 2021 and 2022, and the semi-final at the TruckScout24 EHF FINAL4 2023 after a shootout
- while the EHF Champions League record winners took a deserved 30:25 win at Montpellier in their opener, Magdeburg lost 33:28 at home against Veszprém
- Magdeburg coach Bennet Wiegert: "We need a very, very good performance and good form on the day. The decisive factor will be a secure defence plus goalkeeper saves, just like last time"
- both teams miss their playmaker due to injury: Barça’s Domen Makuc, the best young player at the EHF Excellence Awards 2022/23, and Magdeburg’s Gísli Kristjánsson, the MVP of the TruckScout24 EHF FINAL4 2023
- the match features a duel between two Spanish national team goalkeepers: Barça’s Gonzalo Pérez de Vargas and Magdeburg’s new arrival Sergey Hernandez
- both teams had convincing domestic wins last week: Barça against Cuenca (46:18) in Spain, Magdeburg against Lemgo 35:28
A very difficult match awaits us. We know we have lost three times against them and everyone wants to win this game now. Also, it is the first Champions League game of this season at the Palau and I think everyone is focused. We will give everything, it is a very important game for us.
photo GOG © Lau Nielsen