210204 Kiel Motor 1
EHF Champions League

Kielce the hunted; Kiel the hunters

Kevin Domas / Björn Pazen

This week is set to be a big one in the EHF Champions League Men, with 12 matches on the schedule from Tuesday to Sunday.

In group A, Kielce have the opportunity to secure top spot after their two games this week – but in Paris and Szeged, they will have to fight for every point. Flensburg, Meshkov Brest and Paris will be on the hunt for the Polish side, who could see their current points advantage melt, as six games will be played this week.

In group B, four teams have two matches to be played on Tuesday and Thursday. Defending champions Kiel want to climb the ladder in the ranking, while Aalborg can only mathematically pass Veszprém to finish second below confirmed group winners Barça. Meanwhile, Zagreb have two more chances to harvest their first points of the EHF Champions League season.

Paris Saint-Germain HB (FRA) vs Lomza Vive Kielce (POL)
Tuesday 23 February, 18:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • this is a rescheduled game from round 9
  • Kielce won the first leg between the two teams at home (35:33)
  • in three visits to Paris, Kielce never took a single point. The last time the Polish side played in Paris was in the 2018/19 quarter-final return leg, when they were defeated 26:35
  • Kielce are currently top of the group with 17 points while Paris are fourth with 10

Elverum Handball (NOR) vs HC Vardar 1961 (MKD)
Wednesday 24 February, 18:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • the sides drew in the mutual first leg on Sunday, 34:34
  • other than Sunday’s game, the teams never played against each other in the Champions League
  • Vardar remain last in the group with four points while Elverum are just one rank higher, with five
  • if Vardar goalkeeper Borko Ristovski is still out for the trip to Norway, the team from North Macedonia will be able to count on Robin Cantegrel and Marko Kizic between the posts. Both delivered very good performances last week

MOL-Pick Szeged (HUN) vs Lomza Vive Kielce (POL)
Thursday 25 February, 18:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • Kielce won the first confrontation between the two sides this season, 26:23
  • overall, the Polish side have won seven of the nine mutual games played in European competitions, including two games in Szeged, in 2014 and 2016
  • Kielce are top of the group with 17 points while Szeged are fifth with 10
  • prior to this clash, Szeged are on a run of three straight victories

SG Flensburg-Handewitt (GER) vs Paris Saint-Germain HB (FRA)
Thursday 25 February, 20:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • the teams have met 13 times in the history of European competitions – Paris won nine of those games while Flensburg took four
  • in the first leg, back in September, Flensburg became the first team since 2016 (THW Kiel) to take the points in Paris
  • Paris clinched the points on their last two trips to Flensburg. The last time the French side lost in the north of Germany was in September 2017
  • Flensburg currently suffer many injuries in the squad, with Franz Semper, Alexander Pettersson and Jacob Heinl out. On Paris’ side, Luka Karabatic is still missing

MOL-Pick Szeged (HUN) vs SG Flensburg-Handewitt (GER)
Sunday 28 February, 18:00 CET, live on EHFTV

  • this game will be the second for both teams in the Champions League this week
  • Flensburg won the first leg at home in December, 26:24
  • overall, the German side have won five of the seven confrontations between the two sides. The only time Szeged beat Flensburg was in 2018, in the Champions League group phase (30:28)

HBC Nantes (FRA) vs HC PPD Zagreb (CRO)
Tuesday 23 February, 20:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • in their latest game, Nantes came close to ending Barça’s incredible series of 43 unbeaten home matches, but were defeated 29:30
  • Nantes lost their first four Champions League home matches, before cheating the gallows thanks to a clear 38:29 win against Aalborg that put the French side on eight points after 11 matches
  • Zagreb still have no points in their account – the only side in the competition with this record
  • Nantes won the first duel in Zagreb on 14 February 34:24. Former Nantes player Senjamin Buric was Zagreb’s top scorer, with six goals
  • while Zagreb did not play in the SEHA League, Nantes drew 23:23 with Aix in the French league, remaining in fifth position

THW Kiel (GER) vs Aalborg Håndbold (DEN)
Tuesday 23 February, 20:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • Kiel are on nine points – three below Aalborg – but have played two matches less
  • two Danish world champions on THW’s side – Niklas and Magnus Landin – will face their national teammates and fellow gold medallists Magnus Saugstrup, Hendrik Møllgard and Nikolaj Christensen
  • in the first leg in October, Kiel ended Aalborg’s best winning run (four victories in a row) thanks to a 31:23 away win
  • the top scorer in the first leg was former Aalborg player Sander Sagosen, with 11 goals for Kiel
  • Kiel missed their last three Champions League matches due to a COVID-19 case, and returned to the court on Sunday, drawing 24:24 against Magdeburg in the Bundesliga. Aalborg just beat GOG in the top match of the Danish league to reduce the gap to the top side

RK Celje Pivovarna Laško (SLO) vs Barça (ESP)
Wednesday 24 February, 20:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • Barça are already the confirmed group winners with the maximum of 24 points from 12 matches. Celje are currently seventh ranked with six points
  • the Catalan team won the mutual first leg this season 42:28
  • in 15 previous duels, Barça have won 11 times and Celje four times. The last victory for the Slovenian record champions was a 34:31 result on home ground in April 2005
  • Celje only won one of six home matches of this season, against Zagreb
  • two of Barça’s Slovenian players, Domen Makuc and Blaz Janc, previously played for Celje

HC Motor (UKR) vs Aalborg Håndbold (DEN)
Thursday 25 February, 17:00 CET, live on EHFTV

  • before Aalborg’s duel at Kiel, both sides have 12 points in their account, and currently sit in third and fourth position
  • Motor have won three of five home matches this season
  • Aalborg won the first leg versus Motor in a clear way, 38:29 – their second win in three matches against Motor
  • intermediately, Motor won six matches in a row, but still wait for their first point in 2021 after defeats in Kiel and Veszprém
  • Motor’s top scorer, Viachaslau Bokhan, is on 52 goals and joint seventh on the season’s top scorer list – three goals ahead of his teammate Aidenas Malasinskas and six ahead of Aalborg’s Nikolaj Christensen

HBC Nantes (FRA) vs THW Kiel (GER)
Thursday 25 February, 18:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • before Tuesday’s matches, Kiel are on nine points – one point ahead of Nantes – but have played two games less
  • it is the rematch of the biggest EHF Champions League home defeat ever for THW Kiel – a 27:35 loss in October
  • this match in 2020 was the first mutual duel ever in the history of the clubs
  • HBC Nantes was the last club of THW legend Dominik Klein, who won the EHF Champions League three times with Kiel
  • both sides have hosted the EHF Cup Finals, but with different results: Nantes were finalists twice, in 2013 and 2016, but lost both; Kiel hosted the event in 2019 and took their fourth EHF Cup trophy

HC PPD Zagreb (CRO) vs Telekom Veszprém HC (HUN)
Thursday 25 February, 20:45 CET, live on EHFTV 

  • Veszprém are second ranked, with 17 points from 12 matches, but cannot reach the top position anymore
  • one victory from the last two matches will be enough for Veszprém to secure second position, even if Kiel win all five remaining games
  • Veszprém’s Croatian left wing Manuel Strlek played for Zagreb until 2012, when he left to Kielce
  • it is the 14th duel between these sides. Veszprém have won nine times, one match ended with a draw and Zagreb took three victories
  • Zagreb play their 27th EHF Champions League season; Veszprém their 26th
  • no clubs have lost more EHF Champions League finals than Veszprém and Zagreb (both four times) and never taken the trophy

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