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Group phase approaches decision time

EHF / Danijela Vekić, Björn Pazen, Kevin Domas, Tiago Nogueira

After one rescheduled match last week, the EHF European League Men 2021/22 resumes after its two-month winter break with a full round on Tuesday night.

As the group phase heads into round 7, the situation in the four groups becomes clearer as more teams can secure their place in the Last 16 while others must avoid early elimination from the race to the knockout phase.

In group A, Orlen Wisla Plock can follow Füchse Berlin to the Last 16 with at least a point against Pfadi Winterthur.

Two teams in group B are under pressure to keep their slim Last 16 hopes alive, as Cocks and Chekhovskie medvedi are on the verge of elimination: everything but a win would put them out of the race for the next phase.

In group C, SC Magdeburg want to maintain their unbeaten status when hosting Gorenje Velenje, who are battling to get into the top four. Things also get tight for PAUC Handball, who are currently on one point and visit third-ranked RK Nexe.

Group D is up for a close finish over the remaining four rounds, with leaders USAM Nimes Gard hosting runners-up HC Eurofarm Pelister, and Grundfos Tatabánya KC facing a must-win game against AEK Athens to keep any Last 16 dreams alive.

20220214 Elm Preview Plock Quote
Finally, the European League is back! We are playing at home against a team (Pfadi) which showed in the last match that they can play at a high level. I hope that we will play a good match and the points will stay in Plock.
Tin Lucin
Orlen Wisla Plock left back

GROUP A

Orlen Wisla Plock (POL) vs Pfadi Winterthur (SUI)
Tuesday 15 February, 18:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • having 10 points on their account, Wisla only need a draw to qualify for the Last 16 already; their only defeat was against leaders Füchse
  • Pfadi lost the first match against Ploack 35:23, one of five defeats for the fifth-ranked Swiss team this group phase
  • Russian EHF EURO goal getter Mark Sergei Kosorotov is Plock’s best scorer woth 40 goals; Cédrie Tynowski scored 22 goals for Pfadi
  • in the Polish league, Wisla are runners-up as they trail leaders Kielce by three points; Pfadi are also second in the Swiss league – behind leaders Kadetten

Fenix Toulouse Handball (FRA) vs Füchse Berlin (GER)
Tuesday 15 February, 18:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • by winning the rescheduled match at Winterthur (30:27) for their sixth straight win, Füchse booked their Last 16 ticket last week
  • Füchse won the reverse fixture against Toulouse 32:30, the first meeting between the two teams
  • Fenix are currently ranked third with six points, including two clear wins against Presov right before the EHF EURO break
  • leading scorers of both sides are Nemanja Ilic (Fenix/55 goals) and Danish EHF EURO bronze medallist Lasse Anderson (Füchse/31)
  • Fenix beat Istres in their only French league game after the EHF EURO, while Füchse have beaten Löwen and Hamburg in the German Bundesliga to rank fourth

Bidasoa Irun (ESP) vs Tatran Presov (SVK)
Tuesday 15 February, 20:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • Tatran coach Slavko Goluza left late December and he has been replaced with club legend Radoslav Antl, Presov’s all-time top scorer
  • Presov beat Irun 27:25 in round 1 but have lost all five matches since
  • the teams have balanced head-to-head stats: both had one victory in three previous meetings, which also included a draw
  • Bidasoa Irun are on four points and could make a huge step towards the Last 16
  • Bidasoa are ranked second behind Barça in the Spanish league despite a surprise 25:25 draw against Morrazzo Cangas on Saturday
20220214 Elm Preview Lemgo Quote
We proved in the last one or two years that we can stand the heat in away matches, like as we won at Nantes. In the end, we can beat any opponent in the Bundesliga and in the European League if we defend on the highest level. We want to climb in the ranking, and we have four finals ahead.
Bjarki Mar Ellisson
TBV Lemgo-Lippe left wing

GROUP B

GOG (DEN) vs Chekhovskie medvedi (RUS)
Tuesday 15 February, 18:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • GOG are currently leader of group B with nine points while Chekhov only have two; a defeat could eliminate Chekhov from the race to the Last 16
  • the Danish side easily won the first match in November: 39:32
  • GOG line player Oscar Bergendahl won gold with Sweden at the EHF EURO 2022
  • GOG’s Mathias Gidsel is out for months with a knee injury
  • seven Chekhov players were part of the Russian team that made it to the EHF EURO 2022 main round last month

HBC Nantes (FRA) vs Cocks (FIN)
Tuesday 15 February, 20:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • while Nantes are in third place with eight points, Cocks are on the verge of elimination without points so far
  • the French side easily won the first match in Finland: 40:28
  • during the winter break, Cocks saw their Serbian playmaker Djordje Djekic sign for French side Chartres
  • Nantes won two games in their domestic league since the end of the EHF EURO – both against Saint-Raphaël; Cocks defeated Dicken but lost to BK-46

SL Benfica (POR) vs TBV Lemgo Lippe (GER)
Tuesday 15 February, 20:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • Benfica are joint leader of the group with nine points, while Lemgo are one point behind in third
  • the first confrontation between the two teams, in round 1, resulted in a one-goal win for Benfica (30:29)
  • Lemgo played just one Bundesliga match so far in 2022, beating Lübbecke (27:22) last Thursday; Benfica defeated Avanca (36:21) and Porto (36:33)
  • two Lemgo players were crowned European champions in January: goalkeeper Peter Johannesson and left back Jonathan Carlsbogard
  • another Lemgo player appeared in the EHF EURO final: Spanish line player Gedeon Guardiola
20220214 Elm Preview Velenje Quote
Magdeburg are currently the leading team in the Bundesliga and that says enough about them. We have to go into the match as focused as possible from the first minute, because they will punish every mistake. I hope we show the right face: brave and fighting. Then anything is possible.
Aljaž Panjtar
RK Gorenje Velenje goalkeeper

GROUP C

SC Magdeburg (GER) vs RK Gorenje Velenje (SLO)
Tuesday 15 February, 18:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • Magdeburg lead the group with 11 points, Velenje are fifth with three points
  • Magdeburg won the reverse fixture 31:27 in round 1
  • Magdeburg have won their last three Bundesliga matches; Velenje are ranked fifth in the Slovenian league
  • Velenje top scorer Aleks Kavcic has left the club to join Croatian EHF Champions League side HC PPD Zagreb
  • Magdeburg had 11 players competing at the EHF EURO 2022, three returned with a medal: Daniel Petterson won gold with Sweden, Magnus Saugstrup and Jannick Green bronze with Denmark
  • also, Magdeburg’s Iceland star Ómar Ingi Magnusson became top scorer

RK Nexe (CRO) vs PAUC Handball (FRA)
Tuesday 15 February, 18:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • Nexe are third in the group with eight points; PAUC are last and have only one point so far, from a draw with Velenje
  • Nexe only just won the reverse fixture in France: 30:29
  • Nexe’s squad is coming together after injuries, with Aleksandar Bakic having returned and Janko Kevic, Borna Manci Micevic and Luka Moslavac close to doing so as well
  • PAUC Handball have two EHF EURO silver medalists: Ian Tarrafeta and Iñaki Peciña; Karl Konan, Roman Lagarde and Wesley Pardin ended fourth with France
  • Nexe defeated Dubrovnik and Trogir in the Croatian league and cup, respectively; PAUC beat Nancy 33:27 and are third in the French league

BM Logroño La Rioja (ESP) vs IK Sävehof (SWE)
Tuesday 15 February, 20:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • Sävehof travel to Spain with eight points earned so far, same as Nexe; La Rioja are fourth with five points
  • Sävehof had a big win in the first meeting with La Rioja: 43:31
  • La Rioja are proud of Augustin Casado’s silver from the EHF EURO 2022; he is also the EHF European League Men top scorer so far with 48 goals
  • Michael Apelgren’s team won the Swedish Cup in early February
  • La Rioja rank fourth in the Spanish league; Sävehof still lead in Sweden
20220214 Elm Preview Nexe Quote
PAUC have very good players and can be a very awkward team. I honestly expected them as favourites in our group. We beat them in the first game in France with a minimal goal difference and we will certainly do our best in this game to beat them again.
Branko Tamše
RK Nexe head coach

GROUP D

USAM Nimes Gard (FRA) vs HC Eurofarm Pelister (MKD)
Tuesday 15 February, 18:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • this is a clash between the top two teams in the group, with Nimes leading Pelister by a single point
  • Nimes are coming off a home win in the French league
  • Pelister have been unbeaten since October and occupy the first place in the Macedonian league
  • the first game in October ended with a clear victory for Nimes, but Pelister have not lost a match since that round 1 meeting

Grundfos Tatabánya KC (HUN) vs AEK Athens HC (GRE)
Tuesday 15 February, 18:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • this is a must-win game for both as the two lowest-ranked teams in group D go heat-to-head
  • Athens won the first game at home in October by eight goals: 34:26
  • Athens, last season’s European Cup champions, won the first two matches of the group phase but lost the next four
  • Tatabánya player Lukas Urban will meet fellow Slovakian international Juraj Briatka from AEK

Kadetten Schaffhausen (SUI) vs Sporting CP (POR)
Tuesday 15 February, 20:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • Sporting are third with seven points, just one ahead of fourth-ranked Kadetten
  • Sporting won the reverse fixture at home by a single goal: 29:28
  • after a disappointing start to the group phase, Kadetten have been working their way up with two wins and a draw from their last three matches
  • Sporting won three of their first four games but have not won since

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