French and Danish sides clash as Champions League returns

Björn Pazen & Kevin Domas

As the Machineseeker EHF Champions League returns Aalborg Håndbold and HBC Nantes will meet in the Match of the Week in a mid-table duel in group B, and a win for the Danish hosts would put them ahead of Nantes in the standings.

The top clash in group A is the only match in the group to be played on Wednesday, as Paris Saint-Germain host GOG. In the event of a victory, the French side will widen the gap between the two clubs in the standings.

If they want to remain top of group A, Telekom Veszprém will have to take the points against HC PPD Zagreb, while SC Magdeburg will also be favourites when they host FC Porto.

Elsewhere in group B Barça are out to extend their winning streak at THW Kiel in the re-match of three EHF Champions League finals. Kielce are favourites against Elverum, while Szeged and Celje battle for points to rise from the bottom line.


Paris Saint-Germain HB (FRA) vs GOG (DEN)
Wednesday 23 November, 20:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • Paris are currently second in the group with 10 points, just one point behind leaders Veszprém
  • GOG are in fourth place, three points behind, after winning their last two games before the international break
  • two PSG players are among the top five scorers of the EHF Champions League: Kamil Syprzak (41 goals) and Elohim Prandi (38)
  • GOG’s Jerry Tollbring and Simon Pytlick are also in the top 10, as they respectively netted 36 and 34 goals so far
  • with 181 goals conceded, Paris are currently the fourth most efficient defence in the Champions League, just five short of Orlen Wisla Plock
  • the two teams last played against each other in the 1996/97 season, when both won their home game in the Champions League
  • PSG coach Raul Gonzalez said: "It will be a complicated game because GOG is a very good team which has already won twice away from home this season. We want to play a serious and diligent match to continue to preserve our invincibility this year at home."

CS Dinamo Bucuresti (ROU) vs Orlen Wisla Plock (POL)
Thursday 24 November, 18:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • after six rounds, the teams share fifth place in the group, with five points each
  • Dinamo’s best scorer, Andrii Akimenko, has netted 37 goals already, while Sergei Kosorotov has scored 29 for Plock
  • with 176 goals conceded, Plock are currently the best defence in the Champions League
  • Dinamo and Wisla have played four times against each other in Champions League history. Bucharest won twice, Plock once and one game ended in a draw
  • two Dinamo players wore the Plock shirt in the past: Valentin Ghionea (2012-18) and Dan Emil Racotea (2014-19)
  • last weekend, Dinamo won yet another game in the Romanian league against Bacau (37:27) while Plock also enjoyed success against Azoty-Pulawy (36:21)
  • Plock head coach Xavier Sabate said: "We are playing against one of the best rivals in the group. They have a lot of really, really good players and it is visible that they did a big qualitative step in this season. They have a great coach and play in a great atmosphere in Bucharest. It's going to be really tough match them on their turf, but of course we'll go there to try to make a surprise."
20221122 CLM Round 7 Preview Veszprem (1)

Telekom Veszprém HC (HUN) vs HC PPD Zagreb (CRO)
Thursday 24 November, 18:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • Veszprém are one of only two teams in the Champions League who have not lost a game yet. They are currently leading the group with 11 points
  • Zagreb, on the other hand, are seventh with three points and have yet to take a point away from home
  • Veszprém’s Rasmus Lauge is currently the competition’s second-best scorer, after netting 44 times so far
  • only one player has worn both the clubs’ jerseys: Manuel Strlek, who played until 2012 in Zagreb before moving to Kielce and then to Veszprém in 2018
  • Veszprém and Zagreb played against each other 14 times in history. The Hungarian side won 10 matches, including the last eight, while Zagreb took three and one ended in a draw
  • in their last domestic games, both teams came out victorious as Veszprém defeated FTC in the Hungarian league (50:40) and Zagreb beat Porec in the Croatian league (30:20)
  • Veszprém left back Patrik Ligetvári said: "I am expecting a really tough game, because we have had two weeks' break in the Champions League. It is always difficult to come back, take the rhythm and the high tempo game that we played before."

SC Magdeburg (GER) vs FC Porto (POR)
Thursday 24 November, 20:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • after six rounds, Porto are the only team that has not taken any points
  • SC Magdeburg are third in the group, with seven points. The German side came out victorious twice at home this season already, against Plock and Zagreb
  • Magdeburg have conceded 177 goals this season, making the German side the second-best defence in the Champions League
  • Zagreb have the third least efficient attack in the Champions League, with 166 goals scored after six rounds
  • the two teams have never played against each other in European competitions
  • last weekend, Magdeburg lost the Bundesliga clash against THW Kiel (33:34) while Porto beat Belenenses (35:27)
20221122 CLM Round 7 Preview Porto
We didn’t start at our best in the Champions League. We hope it would be a great game against Madgeburg at their home. Right now we don’t have anything to lose so it will be a really difficult game but we’re going with not a lot of pressure, we’re going to do the best possible in bringing some points to Porto.
Magnus Andersson
Coach, FC Porto


MOTW: Aalborg Handbold (DEN) vs HBC Nantes (FRA)
Wednesday 23 November, 18:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • this is the duel for third position in this group, currently held by Nantes with eight points on their account, one point ahead of Aalborg
  • after four straight victories, Nantes’ winning streak came to an end before the break with defeat by Barça, while Aalborg took a lucky point at Kiel in round 6
  • both sides have featured in the EHF FINAL4: Nantes in 2018 (finalists) and 2021, while Aalborg were finalists in 2021
  • Aalborg’s new arrival Mikkel Hansen is third-ranked in the top scorer list with 40 strikes; Aymeric Minne is the best Nantes scorer with 27 goals, but is out with an ankle injury until next year
  • it is the third time that the two sides clash. In the 2020/21 group phase, each won their home match
  • in domestic competitions, Nantes top the table of the French league after a 40:32 win against Istres, while Aalborg surprisingly lost 25:27 to Kolding
  • Aalborg centre back Felix Claar commented: "It is an important game for us. Nantes are one point ahead of us, and we need to win our home games in order to reach for the two top spots in the group. They had a huge win at home against Kiel and I am excited to see where we stand against the top French club."

Pick Szeged (HUN) vs RK Celje Pivovarna Laško (SLO)
Wednesday 23 November, 18:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • both sides have only two points on their account after one victory each. Celje beat Kiel and Szeged defeated Elverum
  • Szeged have won the last seven duels against Celje. The last victory for the Slovenian record champions dates back to 2008 and the overall balance is seven wins for Pick, two for Celje and one draw
  • Celje’s Aleks Vlah is the current top scorer of the competition with 48 goals, four more than the combined top duo of Szeged, Mario Sostaric and Bogdan Radivojevic, who are on 20 strikes each
  • Celje line player Matic Suholežnik: "Our team is young, we always want to prove ourselves, so it's also important to be aggressive, to show a lot of focus and determination, and of course to always give our best."
  • Szeged’s coach Juan Carlos Pastor announced he will resign after this season
  • in the domestic leagues, Szeged won 41:29 against Budai and remain second below Kielce, while Celje beat Gorica 35:21 and are also runners-up
20221122 CLM Round 7 Preview Szeged
I spent my years as a youngster in Celje and then I had six seasons in their first team as well so that club will be always special for me. Now Celje have a young team where the players always want to show the best version of themselves in the Champions League.
Borut Mackovsek
Left back, Pick Szeged

THW Kiel (GER) vs Barça (ESP)
Thursday 24 November, 18:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • Barça are the only team with a clean record of six victories from six matches, while THW are already seven points below the defending champions after taking only one point from the last three matches
  • it is the 30th time these clubs meet in official matches; Barça were the victors 15 times, and Kiel have won 12 games. Their meetings include three Champions League finals, won by Barça in 2000 and by Kiel in 2010 and 2020. Their last meeting was the semi-final of the EHF FINAL4 2022, when Barça beat THW 34:30
  • Kiel’s defence boss Hendrik Pekeler is supposed to have his comeback after being ruled out since the quarter-final against PSG in May 2022. Sander Sagosen is still ruled out after his foot surgery
  • both coaches were Champions League winners as players and coaches – Carlos Ortega won six trophies as player and one as a coach (all for Barça), while Filip Jicha won the trophy as a player twice and as a coach once with THW, beating Barça in the final in 2010 and 2020
  • in the German league, Kiel won the top match against German champions SC Magdeburg 34:33, while Barça took their 12th win from 12 matches with a 33:26 victory against Anaitasuna
  • Kiel coach Jicha said: "If you look at it completely realistically, we are certainly not favourites on Thursday. But we have nothing to lose, we want to show ourselves and play freely. When these two teams meet, it really is the European 'El Clásico'. It is and remains a spectacle that all sports enthusiasts, handball fans and also the active players rightly look forward to."
20221122 CLM Round 7 Preview Arino
We can make the difference in our defence and this will allow us to run. If we play good in defence and stop their fastbreaks we will have our chances. We know their arena is a hot one, one of the most important in Europe. But all the team is used to play these kind of games and we know what we have to do.
Aitor Ariño
Left wing, Barça

Lomza Industria Kielce (POL) vs Elverum Handball (NOR)
Thursday 24 November, 20:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • Kielce are second-ranked in the group with 10 points and have won their last four matches, while Elverum ended their series of defeats with a 31:29 win against Celje in round 6
  • the only two duels of this pairing were played in the 2020/21 season, when Kielce won both clearly (31:22 and 39:29)
  • Kielce’s top scorers Arkadiusz Moryto and Szymon Sicko are equal on 35 goals; the best scorer for Elverum is Serbian Uros Borzas with 25 strikes
  • both coaches won the EHF Champions League as players: Talant Dujshebaev with Santander in 1994, Elverum’s Börge Lund in 2010 with THW Kiel
  • Kielce coach Talant Dujshebaev: "Elverum have two solid players in every position, they fight to the end in every game, but this young team takes time to develop. I am sure they will play even better in February and March. But now we play at home and with our audience we always have more options"
  • Elverum rank third in the Norwegian league after beating Kristiansand 29:27, while Kielce remained unbeaten in Poland with a 40:24 victory against Zabrze
20221122 CLM Round 7 Preview Kielce (2)

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