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15.02.2018, 16:50
PSG on the verge of group victory
«Go back »Print Version


GROUPS A/B PREVIEW: Excitement at both ends of Groups A and B as PSG could tie up top spot in Group B, while Szeged and Kielce can book their Last 16 tickets

»EHF CL Channel »2017-18 Men's CL
»Group Phase
»
 

PSG on the verge of group victory

Round 12 of the VELUX EHF Champions League Group Phase may see the first team book their spot in the quarter-finals as PSG need only one point in their match against Flensburg to seal top position in Group B.

In Group A, Vardar will be keen to show a positive reaction to their first defeat of the season as they welcome Szeged to Skopje.

  • Nantes head to Zagreb in search of eighth straight win
  • Duel of the Dujshebaev brothers in Kielce
  • 17 EHF EURO 2018 semi-finalists on court in Paris on Saturday

GROUP A

HC PPD Zagreb (CRO) vs HBC Nantes (FRA) - ehfTV.com Match of the Week
Saturday 17 February, 20:00 hrs local time, live on ehfTV.com

The Match of the Week is a must-win encounter for Zagreb as time runs out for them to remain in the hunt for the Last 16, but they are up against arguably the most in-form team in the competition. After seven straight victories, Thierry Anti’s HBC Nantes sit just one point behind top side Vardar, which means winning Group A and skipping the Last 16 is still very much on the table.

While Zagreb won only three points on home court so far this season, Nantes have won their last three away matches. Their only duel to date was the reverse fixture, which the French runners-up took a dramatic 28:27 victory.

With only four points on their account, the hosts are two points below Kristianstad and Plock in the race for sixth place in the group. But the situation for Zagreb is not easy, after Stipe Mandalinic, Zarko Markovic and Matevs Skok left the squad coached by Zlatko Saracevic during the winter break.

HC Vardar (MKD) vs MOL-Pick Szeged (HUN)
Sunday 18 February, 17:00 hrs local time, live on ehfTV.com

How will the defending champions cope with their first defeat of the campaign? After the 29:28 loss at Barcelona last weekend, Vardar still have their fate in their own hands, as they have a one-point advantage over Nantes and face them on 25 February in France.

However, Vardar must first withstand the test provided by Szeged. The Hungarian side displayed their strong current form in Round 11, beating Rhein-Neckar Löwen in a goal-fest 37:35 away from home. This result and the draw in the first clash between the sides means Vardar will be taking nothing for granted.

For the second straight match, Vardar’s outgoing coach Raul Gonzalez will face a team coached by a fellow Spaniard, this time Juan Carlos Pastor. Recently crowned EHF EURO champion Arpad Sterbik will duel with another Spanish counterpart, Jose Manuel Sierra. The goalkeepers worked together to steer Spain to their 2013 World Championship title.

Elsewhere in Group A:

FC Barcelona Lassa (ESP) vs Orlen Wisla Plock (POL)
Saturday 17 February, 19:30 hrs local time, live on ehfTV.com

Rhein-Neckar Löwen (GER) vs IFK Kristianstad (SWE)
Sunday 18 February, 19:00 hrs local time, live on ehfTV.com

GROUP B

PGE Vive Kielce (POL) vs RK Celje Pivovarna Lasko (SLO)
Saturday 17 February, 16:00 hrs local time, live on ehfTV.com

The Dujshebaev family reunion is a highlight of Group B this weekend as father Talant and his older son Alex host younger son Dani. The brothers were teammates when Spain took their first EHF EURO title in Zagreb last month and it was the younger Dani who came out on top when the sides met earlier this season, the 31:27 win was Celje’s only triumph at home so far this season. Since that win, Celje also beat Kiel away from home, but still sit bottom of the table, three points below Meshkov Brest in sixth place.

In Round 11, Celje pushed Paris Saint-Germain hard before losing out 31:26, while former Celje right wing Blaz Janc secured a last-second draw for Kielce at Flensburg, rescuing a point after letting a six-goal lead slip.

2016 champions Kielce have not been at their best this season, but can book their Last 16 ticket if they beat Celje and Aalborg do not win against Kiel on Sunday.  

Paris Saint-Germain Handball (FRA) vs SG Flensburg-Handewitt (GER)
Saturday 17 February, 17:30 hrs local time, live on ehfTV.com

One point is enough for PSG to secure top position in Group B and skip the Last 16. With eight straight victories under their belt, the French side will be full of confidence as they aim to avenge their only defeat so far this season.

Flensburg have yet to take a point in Paris, with all three of their victories against the 2017 finalists occurred at home, but that will have to change if they are to keep alive their slim chance of winning Group B.

Flensburg’s centre back Kentin Mahe, who will join Veszprém next season, will face five French teammates, with whom he won bronze at EHF EURO 2018.

17 players who reached the EHF EURO 2018 semi-finals will be on court on Saturday, nine for Flensburg, including MVP Jim Gottfridsson, and eight for Paris, including EURO champion Rodrigo Corrales as well as All-star team players Mikkel Hansen, Sander Sagosen and silver medallist Jesper Nielsen.

In their domestic leagues, both are chasing the leaders, with PSG in second place behind Montpellier and Flensburg fourth in Germany, four points behind Rhein-Neckar Löwen.

Elsewhere in Group B:

Telekom Veszprém HC (HUN) vs HC Meshkov Brest (BLR)
Saturday February, 17:30 hrs local time, live on ehfTV.com

Aalborg Handbold (DEN) vs THW Kiel (GER)
Sunday 18 February, 16:50 hrs local time, live on ehfTV.com


TEXT: Björn Pazen / cor
 
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