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EHF Champions League

Aalborg and Kielce look to increase lead at the top

With only three rounds left to play in the group phase of the EHF Champions League Men, every match takes on added importance with all 16 teams still playing for something.

In group A, round 12 will start the three-way battle for the last two play-off tickets between Elverum, Vardar and Zagreb, the two latter will face off in the crucial direct duel. On top of the group, Kiel can pass Montpellier to take second place, while Aalborg are the favourites in the Scandinavian derby against Elverum.

The battle for the top two spots is fierce in group B with four teams still able to take them. The situation could become a little clearer as two contenders, Barça and Veszprem, face each other in Match of the Week, while current leaders Kielce could use the opportunity to increase their lead on top of the group.

GROUP A

Aalborg Håndbold (DEN) vs Elverum Handball (NOR)
Wednesday 23 February, 18:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • Aalborg have won the last four group matches, including the 34:28 at Elverum on 8 December, and top the table, equal with Montpellier, on 16 points
  • in contrast, Elverum have lost the last five games and are being chased by Vardar and Zagreb
  • both teams count on some of the best current EHF Champions League scorers: Tobias Grøndahl (Elverum) is third on the list with 62 goals, Felix Claar (Aalborg) is sixth on 59 strikes
  • Aalborg’s Kristian Bjørnsen and Sebastian Barthold will face many Norwegian country fellows
  • two of Elverum’s young guns will join top clubs after this season: Hungarian Dominik Mathe will transfer to Paris Saint-Germain, Swedish EHF EURO champion Eric Johansson to THW Kiel

THW Kiel (GER) vs Montpellier HB (FRA)
Wednesday 23 February, 18:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • Kiel were the lucky 31:30 winners at Elverum in the last round, thanks to the saves of goalkeeper Niklas Landin, and are only one point below their visitors
  • the sensational 28:25 home defeat against Vardar last week ended Montpellier’s series of eight unbeaten matches, which had started with the home victory against Kiel in October
  • the 37:30 win, including 15 goals of the young guns Kylian Villeminot and Julien Bos, was the second victory of Montpellier against THW in nine matches
  • Niklas Ekberg is currently the top THW scorer on 57 goals - and will face his country-fellows Lukas Pellas and Karl Wallinius, who all won the gold medals at EHF EURO 2022 with Sweden
  • while Montpellier lost against Creteil and ranked only sixth in the French league, Kiel won at Hanover and are second in the German league

HC Vardar 1961 (MKD) vs PPD Zagreb (CRO)
Wednesday 23 February, 20:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • both sides caused major sensations in the last round: Vardar won 28:25 at Montpellier and Zagreb beat Szeged 26:24 on home ground
  • the hosts, who have lost the match at Zagreb in December 23:22, are on seven points, one point behind the visitors, who are equal with Elverum
  • before their victory against Montpellier, Vardar had lost seven matches in a row, for Zagreb, the victory against Skopje in the reverse fixture was the first win of this season
  • Timur Dibirov (Vardar) is the fourth-best scorer of the EHF Champions League on 61 goals so far, Ivan Cupic (Zagreb) is tenth-ranked with 56 strikes
  • the overall balance of both sides is fully equal by six victories each and one draw in so far 13 matches

Pick Szeged (HUN) vs HC Meshkov Brest (BLR)
Thursday 24 February, 20:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • both sides remained without a point in round 11, as Brest lost 33:30 against Aalborg on home ground and Szeged were defeated 26:24 at Zagreb
  • Szeged are currently fourth-ranked, one point below Kiel and two each below Montpellier and Aalborg, while Meshkov only have four points from 11 matches on their tally
  • a defeat at Szeged could already end Meshkov’s hopes if Elverum take at least one point against Aalborg
  • Szeged have won seven of so far nine duels with Meshkov, including the 28:25 away victory in October
  • both sides are coached by Spaniards: Juan Carlos Pastor (Szeged) and Dani Gordo (Brest)

GROUP B

Lomza Vive Kielce (POL) vs HC Motor (UKR)
Wednesday 23 February, 18:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • after 11 rounds, Kielce are top of the group with 16 points, while Motor are sixth with eight points and played one game less, their game from last week against Paris having been postponed
  • the first confrontation between the two sides ended with a Kielce win in Ukraine, 26:25
  • never in history have Motor won a game against Kielce. Their best results, in seven confrontations, is a draw from the 2018/19 Last 16 at home (33:33)
  • Kielce’s Daniel Dusjshebaev made his return to competition last week, after suffering a torn ACL in early 2021
  • this weekend, Kielce won their domestic league game against Zabrze (37:28)

Barça (ESP) vs Telekom Veszprém HC (HUN)
Thursday 24 February, 18:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • both teams are currently head to head in the run for second place. Barça are second with 14 points while Veszprém are third with one point fewer
  • in the first game between the two sides this season, Veszprém took the points at home (29:28)
  • the two teams played against each other 23 times in the history of European competitions. And since 1986, never did Veszprém manage to take a point in Barcelona
  • it was made official last week that Icelandic left-winger Bjarki Mar Elisson would be joining Veszprém next summer, with Dejan Manaskov leaving the club in the meantime

 Paris Saint-Germain HB (FRA) vs SG Flensburg-Handewitt (GER)
Thursday 24 February, 20:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • this will be Paris’ first game in the competition in 2022 as their game against Motor from last week was postponed
  • the first game between the two teams this season, played in Germany, ended in a draw (27:27)
  • Flensburg are the last away team to have taken the points in Paris in the Champions League, back in September 2020
  • the French side is currently fourth in the group, with 12 points and one game in hand, while Flensburg are fifth with nine points
  • Paris remain the undefeated leader of the French league, having won their 17th game in a row against Limoges last weekend (44:29), Flensburg are third in the German Bundesliga, after their victory 30:26 against Erlangen

FC Porto (POR) vs CS Dinamo Bucuresti (ROU)
Thursday 24 February, 20:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • both teams are battling for sixth place, with Porto standing seventh with eight points. Dinamo are last in the group, but only two points behind the team from Portugal
  • Porto and Dinamo already played against each other once this season, and the Portuguese side took the points in Romania, 27:26
  • Dinamo announced last weekend that yet another former Barça member would join them as David Barrufet is their new sports director
  • Porto are currently second in their domestic league, three points behind Sporting. This weekend, they defeated Xico Andebol (47:26)
  • on the other hand, Dinamo are the undefeated leader of the Romanian league, having beaten Timisoara 29:27 last weekend

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