Race to Last 16 gets tense in round 8
Eight teams have already done so, and others can secure their Last 16 spots in the third-to-last round of the EHF European League Men group phase on Tuesday.
In group A, the situation may already be settled on Tuesday night. While Montpellier and Göppingen are already through, Benfica and Schaffhausen could join them if they both win.
Group B is more open, still, but Ystad are in the position to seal their Last 16 berth with a win against FTC.
As three teams in group C are through, three others battle for the remaining ticket. Skjern could grab it, if they beat Hard while Balatonfüred do not upset group leaders Nexe.
Also in group D, all teams are still in with a chance to advance, and Pelister can take a huge step by beating Aguas Santas.
After last week's defeat against Göppingen, we want to show in every possible way that we are capable of being a worthy opponent of a club with such a long history as Schaffhausen. It will be very important to keep the number of turnovers and technical mistake low so that the opponent can not easily score quick goals.
- Montpellier lead group A with the maximum of seven points; Presov are fifth, with two points
- while Montpellier have already booked their ticket for the Last 16, Presov need a win to keep their chances alive
- in the first confrontation between the two teams this season, Montpellier took the points at home by winning 41:30
- with 244 goals scored, Montpellier are the most efficient offence of the competition, while Presov are the second least efficient, with 188 goals
- last weekend, Presov were defeated at home in the Czech league by Jicin (31:28) while Montpellier took the points in the French league against Toulouse (34:29)
- Göppingen stand second in the group after seven rounds with 10 points, while Benfica are fourth, with six points
- the German side booked its ticket for the Last 16 last week, while Benfica are almost through; a draw in Göppingen might be enough for them to qualify
- the two teams played against each other in round 2, when Göppingen took the points in Lisbon (31:27)
- Benfica’s best scorer, Petar Djordjic, netted 43 times this season, while Josip Sarac scored 37 goals Göppingen won their Bundesliga game last Thursday against Erlangen (31:25), while Benfica also took the points in their domestic league, in Maia-Ismai (37:23)
Kadetten Schaffhausen (SWI) vs Fejer B.A.L. Veszprém (HUN)
Tuesday 14 February, 20:45 CET, live on EHFTV
- after seven rounds, Schaffhausen are ranked third with eight points, while Veszprém are last, with two
- the Swiss side only need a draw to book their Last 16 ticket, while Veszprm could remain in the run if they take the points on Tuesday
- Kadetten took the points in the first game between the two teams this season in Hungary (33:25)
- with 247 goals conceded, Veszprem have the least efficient defence in the competition
- Kadetten head coach Adalsteinn Eyjolfsson: "The match against Veszprém is very important for us. Due to the fact that we will become second or third in our group, it will be a key game for us."
- last Saturday, Schaffhausen put an end to their losing streak by taking the points in Basel in the Swiss league (38:37), while Veszprém suffered their 12th defeat of the season in the Hungarian league in Komló (28:27)
It's a complicated match against a very difficult opponent. We will play to win two points and secure our qualification.
- the Swedish side is one of the three sides that have put together a five-game winning streak this season, with Montpellier HB and Füchse Berlin being the other two, which are now on a seven-game winning streak
- Ystad will seal a Last 16 berth provided they do not lose against FTC, a team which they lost against in the first match in Hungary, 34:37
- left back Jonathan Svensson is Ystad’s top scorer this season, with his 48-goal tally being the second best in the competition so far, only nine goals less than Motor’s Ihor Turchenko
- no other goalkeeper made more saves than Ystad’s Niklas Kraft, who stopped 97 shots for a 33.6% efficiency, 17 saves more than any other goalkeeper in the competition
- FTC head coach István Pásztor: "We won against the Swedish champions at home, but they have improved a lot since then, including defeating Flensburg. We will do everything we can to win with fighting spirit and focusing on our defense."
- only one side, fellow Hungarian team Fejer – B.A.L. Veszprém – has conceded more goals than FTC’s 243 this season
PAUC Handball (FRA) vs SG Flensburg-Handewitt (GER)
Tuesday 14 February, 20:45 CET, live on EHFTV
- leaders Flensburg will be looking to confirm their first place in the group, having already secured their Last 16 berth last week with their 33:30 win over Valur
- after starting with three wins in the first four games, PAUC Handball have lost three matches in a row, having a one-point lead over fifth placed side FTC
- Flensburg boast the second-best attack in the competition so far, scoring 241 goals, an average of 34.4 goals per game, only three goals less than Montpellier HB, who scored the largest amount of goals this season
- centre back Jim Gottfridsson will miss the game due to an arm injury, but Flensburg will have line player Johannes Golla, Germany’s captain, back in the team
- PAUC have only two wins in their last eight games in all competitions, as they lost the domestic league game against Nimes by 10 goals (21:31) on Saturday
- the hosts are on a five-game winless streak, including two home losses in a row, as their progression to the Last 16 berth is now under threat
- Benidorm have won two of the last four games, including an away win against FTC, but they can leave the last place and leapfrog Valur with a win here
- only two points separate Benidorm from the third place in the group, which means that the Spanish side can dream about a Last 16 berth in their maiden season in the group phase of a European competition
- only one side, Hard, has a worse form than Valur in the last five rounds, with the Icelandic side earning a single point in that span
- Benidorm coach Fernando Latorre: "We have nothing to lose against a great team like Valur. We will enjoy the experience and try to bring the two points back to Spain."
- Valur’s Arnór Snær Óskarsson is the fifth best scorer in the competition after the first seven rounds, with 45 goals, while wing Stiven Valencia has 38 goals and centre back Benedikt Gunar Óskarsson added 37 goals, as the three combined for 52% of their team’s goals
We are insecure in our defence and we miss too many 100% chances. We have to work our way out of this situation and stand together. In Skjern, we can take a positive step forward.
- Hard are still without a win in the competition and are bottom of the table with one point; they still have a theoretical chance of progressing
- Skjern are on a three-game losing streak and need a win to come a step closer to the Last 16; them winning and Balatonfüred losing would see them through
- Skjern beat Hard in round 2 by 32:27 after an eight-goal outing by Simen Holand Pettersen and Alfred Joel Jönsson
- both sides have around 60% attack efficiency, with Skjern scoring 204 and Hard 191 goals
- Skjern celebrated a big win against KIF Kolding (38:25) and Hard suffered a one-goal defeat against BT Füchse in their domestic leagues
- both sides have secured their Last 16 ticket but their clash can impact the ranking in the group
- in their previous encounter this season, Granollers beat Sporting 32:29 after a good performance by Rangel Luan da Rosa between the posts
- Granollers scored 31.86 goals per game on average, while Sporting are at 30.71 goals
- Costa brothers Martim and Francisco have scored 40 per cent of all Sporting goals so far (86 out of 215)
- Sporting head coach Ricardo Costa: "They are currently one of the top teams in the Spanish league, one of the best leagues in the world. We will have to be very serious and put all our energy onto the court if we want to defeat BM Granollers."
- Granollers head coach Antonio Rama: "Beating Sporting twice in the same season is very complicated, we did it at home in the first game of the Europa League and in the Iberian Super Cup, we know that they will be attentive. A very talented team, very young, very fast, a great club."
- Sporting are still in the lead in Portugal after a 38:24 win against Vitoria, while Granollers remain second in Spain by beating Guadalajara 34:26
- Balatonfüred need to win to keep their Last 16 hopes alive; Nexe, on the other hand, are already through and aim for the top of the group
- the Hungarian side could not keep up with Nexe in their previous encounter allowing the Croatian side to win by 32:23
- Nexe have the fourth-best defence in the EHF European League with 196 goals conceded - 28 goals per game on average
- Nexe coach Branko Tamše: "Although we played well in Našice, we shouldn't look back on the first game. Balaton are a very good and compact team. They play very fast handball, they have very good players, several Hungarian and Serbian national team members, so we will surely have a tough fight."
- Balatonfüredi were defeated by Veszprém (41:20); Nexe earned a hard-fought win against Porec at the start of the championship round in Croatia
We are going to have an extremely difficult game in North Macedonia. But our team has already proved that nothing is impossible, and we will give everything to come out victorious.
- Skanderborg won the first duel against Motor 37:31 and have lost only once at home – against Füchse
- thanks to the 24:22 against Pelister last week, the Danish side already booked their spot in the Last 16, now having 10 points on their account
- fifth-ranked Motor lost 32:24 at Berlin last week; their three points have all come from the matches against Aguas Santas
- Motor left back Ihor Turchenko is the competition’s top scorer with 57 goals; best Skanderborg scorers are Thomas Sommer (40) and Hakun West Av Teigum (38)
- in the Danish league, Skanderborg beat Mors 33:31 and rank sixth; Motor took their sixth victory in the second German league by beating Lübeck/Bad Schwartau 25:22
- if Motor and Aguas Santas lose and Irun at least take one point, Bidasoa have booked their spot in the Last 16 already after this round
- besides Montpellier in group A, Füchse Berlin are the only team with the maximum of 14 points after seven group matches, and are confirmed for the knock-out stage already
- Berlin won the first duel against Bidasoa 34:29 on home ground
- if Berlin win and Skanderborg do not win against Motor, they are already confirmed as group winners
- Bidasoa Irun head coach Jacobo Cuétara: "One of the best teams in the world is coming, with players who we enjoy watching in the major events in the world. Is a game to enjoy and be proud that such a team comes to our court."
- Milos Vujovic (43 goals) and Jakob Holm (42), one of three 2023 World Champions in the Füchse squad, are among the top 10 scorers of the competition
- Füchse remained on top of German Bundesliga after their 32:29 win against Ahlen-Hamm on Sunday, while Irun lost 26:27 at Morazzo Cangas to rank sixth in the Spanish league
HC Eurofarm Pelister (MKD) vs Aguas Santas Milaneza (POR)
Tuesday 14 February, 20:45 CET, live on EHFTV
- Pelister still wait for their first victory on home ground; their only point came from a 29:29 draw with Bidasoa Irun
- The Macedonian side have five points on their account, two more than their next opponents and HC Motor
- Aguas Santas took their first group phase victory last week with the 28:25 against Irun and can catch up with Pelister if they win
- Pelister won the first match in Portugal 29:27 after a close fight - and thanks to seven goals of their Dane Sebastian Henneberg
- Pelister have lost both matches in the SEHA league so far, against Vojvodina and Nexe; Santas lost against champions FC Porto in the Portuguese league
Photos courtesy of Peter Cseh, Sylvain Sauvage, Porfirio Ferreira