20200916 Nantes Veszprem2
EHF Champions League

German-French duels and campaign openers ahead

Kevin Domas / Björn Pazen

Group A is topped by unlikely leaders ahead of round 2 of the EHF Champions League Men 2020/21, as Elverum and Meshkov Brest are the frontrunners, with Paris and Szeged not having played their opening clash. Together with Flensburg, the three teams that won their first games will have the ambition to add more points, with all three playing away from home this week.

In group B, the German-French duels continue with the away match of Nantes at Kiel. Like THW, all the first-round winners (Aalborg, Veszprém and Barça) will have home matches against the losers of the opening games. Also, the brothers Blaz and Mitja Janc will duel in the theatre of handball dreams, Palau Blaugrana.

One match scheduled for round 2, Vardar vs Elverum, has been postponed due to restrictions.

GROUP A
Lomza Vive Kielce (POL) vs MOL-Pick Szeged (HUN)
Wednesday 23 September, 18:45 CEST, live on EHFTV.com

  • the two clubs have not met in the EHF Champions League since 2017. Out of the eight direct confrontations Kielce and Szeged played, the Polish side won six, including all home games
  • due to cases of Covid-19 at the club, Szeged did not play last week, while Kielce were defeated 30:31 in Flensburg
  • this game should be the first in the Champions League for Martin Stranovsky with Szeged. The Slovakian left wing joined the Hungarian club a few weeks ago
  • Kielce won their last Polish League game on Saturday in Zabrze (31:24)

MOTW: Paris Saint-Germain Handball (FRA) vs SG Flensburg-Handewitt (GER)
Wednesday 23rd September, 20:45 CEST, live on EHFTV.com

  • Paris have yet to start their Champions League campaign, as last week’s game in Szeged was postponed
  • this confrontation has become a regular in the Champions League, as Paris and Flensburg have met in the group phase every season since 2015/16
  • the French side won nine of the 12 matches against Flensburg, including the six games played on the home court
  • both teams have yet to start their domestic league campaigns, as Paris will play their first game in the Lidl Starligue on Sunday against PAUC

FC Porto (POR) vs HC Meshkov Brest (BLR)
Wednesday 23 September, 20:45 CEST, live on EHFTV.com

  • this will be the second straight home game for Porto. The first ended with a two-goal defeat to Elverum (28:30)
  • the two teams met in the group phase last season, with Porto winning the two confrontations
  • after a knee injury suffered last week against Elverum, Porto’s Rui Silva will not be playing against Brest
  • Porto’s loss last week was the first time since 2013 the Portuguese team did not win their opening game in the Champions League

GROUP B
Aalborg Håndbold (DEN) vs HC Motor (UKR)
Wednesday 23 September, 18:45 CEST, live on EHFTV.com

  • after their 31:29 away win at Celje, Aalborg can make a huge step towards the play-offs by beating another contender
  • Motor lost their opener at home 25:30 against Barça
  • in the 2014/15 season, both teams duelled in the group phase, with each side winning the away match
  • in the previous season, Aalborg were only defeated on home ground by Szeged, Barça and PSG, while Motor did not win any away match (but tied at Porto and Kiel)
  • in the Danish league, Aalborg are on top of the table with four victories in four matches, one point ahead of GOG

Telekom Veszprém HC (HUN) vs HC PPD Zagreb (CRO)
Thursday 24 September, 18:45 CEST, live on EHFTV.com

  • Veszprém started their 26th Champions League season victorious, winning 28:24 at Nantes, while Zagreb lost at home 21:31 against Kiel to open their 27th season in the top flight
  • Zagreb did not win any Champions League match against Veszprém since February 2000. The overall balance is eight Veszprém victories, one draw and three wins for the Croatian side
  • for Veszprém, it is Champions League match 294, for Zagreb, 288. In the Champions League all-time ranking, Veszprém are second and Zagreb are fifth
  • Veszprém’s only Croatian, Manuel Strlek, was born in Zagreb

THW Kiel (GER) vs HBC Nantes (FRA)
Thursday 24 September, 18:45 CEST, live on EHFTV.com

  • coaches Filip Jicha (Kiel) and Alberto Entrerrios (Nantes) met in the Champions League 2012 final, when THW took their last Champions League trophy after a 26:21 result against Atletico Madrid
  • in round 1, Kiel won at Zagreb (31:21), while Nantes lost their home match against Veszprém (24:28)
  • though both sides have been Champions League finalists, it is the first ever duel between Kiel and Nantes
  • neither the French nor the German league have started yet. Kiel face Flensburg on Saturday in the German Supercup; Nantes start their domestic campaign on Sunday with a home match against Ivry
  • in the previous season, Kiel drew in their first home match (against Kielce)

Barça (ESP) vs RK Celje Pivovarna Laško (SLO)
Thursday 24 September, 20:45 CEST, live on EHFTV.com

  • Barça won their opener in Zaporozhye, while Celje lost at home against Aalborg
  • in the previous season, Barça scored 82 goals in the two group matches against Celje (45:21 and 37:25)
  • four times, the duel Barça vs Celje was a Champions League semi-final. Four times, Barça made it to the final
  • Celje’s last victory against Barcelona was in the 2005 semi-final (34:31). Celje won in Palau Blaugrana only once, in 1997 (26:22)
  • the two Janc brothers Blaz (Barça) and Mitja (Celje) will face each other, and Barcelona’s other new Slovenian arrival, Domen Makuc, will duel with the club he just left this summer

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