20210204 Veszprem Barca Manaskov
EHF Champions League

Barça host Veszprém in top-level clash

Kevin Domas / Björn Pazen / cg

After a series of rescheduled matches to get the top-flight competition up and running in 2021, the EHF Champions League Men returns with eight clashes this week.

In group A, Kielce could reclaim first place in the group, as the Polish side will host Porto and also travel to Brest. 

In group B, Veszprém travel for the second leg of the top duel with Barça after the Hungarian side lost the first encounter on home ground. Zagreb are on the hunt for their first win of the season, while Motor want to take revenge for a defeat in Kiel.

On Wednesday, the Match of the Week will see eight World Championship finalists from Denmark and Sweden fighting with Aalborg in Nantes.

20200923 Aalborg Saugstrup

GROUP A
Lomza Vive Kielce (POL) vs FC Porto (POR)
Tuesday 9 February, 18:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • this is a rescheduled game from round 10
  • Kielce lost their leading place in the group to Flensburg last week, but could catch up with the German side if they win against Porto
  • the sides drew in the first leg of the confrontation in Portugal (32:32)
  • Kielce won their first two games in 2021, against Kwidzyn and Mielec in the Polish league

MOL-Pick Szeged (HUN) vs FC Porto (POR)
Thursday 11 February, 18:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • the teams have only met once in the history of European competitions – earlier this season. In October 2020, in the first leg of the confrontation, Porto won 25:19
  • Szeged lost to Paris last week (29:32) while Porto took the points against Vardar (27:24)
  • the sides are close in the standings, with the Portuguese team currently fifth with eight points while Szeged are just one spot behind, with four points
  • Porto only took one of their eight points away from home this season – in Skopje against Vardar (25:25) in October

HC Meshkov Brest (BLR) vs Lomza Vive Kielce (POL)
Thursday 11 February, 18:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • the clubs have faced each other 11 times in the Champions League. Kielce won 10 times, including the first leg this season (34:27)
  • the only time Meshkov took the points against Kielce was in the Champions League 2017/18 group phase
  • Meshkov suffered their first home defeat this season last week against Flensburg (26:28)
20200916 Flensburg Kielce3

GROUP B
RK Celje Pivovarna Laško (SLO) vs HC PPD Zagreb (CRO)
Tuesday 9 February, 18:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • the overall balance between the sides is equal: Celje and Zagreb have each won 11 games and they drew once
  • Celje are on four points from two away wins – in Zagreb (30:22) and last week in Nantes. Celje’s last home victory was on 10 November 2019 – a 24:22 result against Zagreb
  • Zagreb are still on zero points – their seven defeats in seven group matches represent their longest losing run in EHF Champions League history
  • in contrast to the EHF Champions League, Zagreb had a successful start in the SEHA League by beating the two European League participants TATRAN Presov and Eurofarm Pelister
  • Ziga Mlakar played for Zagreb for some months after his departure from Plock, but returned to Celje in September; former Zagreb goalkeeper Filip Ivic now plays for Celje

Barça (ESP) vs Telekom Veszprém HC (HUN)
Tuesday 9 February, 20:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • last week, Barça won the first leg 37:34 – their ninth victory in their ninth group match. Another win against Veszprém would extend Barça’ advantage over the Hungarian side to seven points
  • the Catalan team have won 23 of their last 24 EHF Champions League matches – the exception was the VELUX EHF FINAL4 2020 final against Kiel
  • Veszprém are still unbeaten in away matches this season – their balance is three victories and one draw, in Kiel
  • Barça can count on an impressive series of 41 straight unbeaten EHF Champions League home matches since a 31:33 loss against Kielce five years ago (5 December 2015), including 23 home victories in a row
  • Veszprém have lost all nine previous matches at Palau Blaugrana, while Barça have won 15 times in 22 duels so far against the Hungarian team

MOTW: HBC Nantes (FRA) vs Aalborg Håndbold (DEN)
Wednesday 10 February, 20:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • Aalborg’s Magnus Saugstrup, Hendrik Möllgard, Nikolaj Laeso and Benjamin Jakobsen became world champions with Denmark at the end of January. Their club teammates Mikael Aggefors, Felix Claar and Lukas Sandell won silver with Sweden
  • HBC Nantes’ Emil Nielsen won gold and Adria Figueras claimed a bronze with Spain at Egypt 2021
  • currently fourth ranked, Aalborg have 10 points in their account, six more than Nantes
  • HBC Nantes have lost all four home matches in this season, taking their four points collected so far in the away matches in Kiel and Celje
  • Nantes have lost the last three Champions League matches – a double header with Motor and a home match against Celje – which is their longest losing run in the competition
  • Aalborg have won three of four away matches this season, including a 32:30 in Veszprém. They were only defeated in Barcelona (33:42)

HC PPD Zagreb (CRO) vs Barça (ESP)
Thursday 11 February, 20:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • before their matches on Tuesday, the situation could not be more different: Zagreb have lost all their group games, while Barça have won all of them, including a record-breaking 45:27 result in the first leg between these sides – PPD’s biggest ever Champions League defeat
  • Zagreb’s only victory against Barça in 24 matches was an away win at Palau Blaugrana – a 30:29 in 2012
  • Barça’s Croatian playmaker Luka Cindric never played for Zagreb – only for Karlovac on a senior level only – before he went abroad
  • at the World Championship in Egypt, David Mandic and Marin Sipic were the only Zagreb players in the Croatian squad, alongside Cindric

RK Celje Pivovarna Laško (SLO) vs Telekom Veszprém HC (HUN)
Thursday 11 February, 20:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • both sides are playing their 26th season in the EHF Champions League
  • Veszprém have won 13 of 15 matches against Celje – the only victory for the Slovenian side dates to 2007, a 28:23 result
  • Veszprém won the first leg on home ground 39:24 – their clearest victory so far this season
  • in contrast to four-time finalists Veszprém, Celje have won one EHF Champions League title, in 2005
  • Veszprém right wing Gasper Marguc will face his younger brother Gal, while the Hungarian side’s line player Blaz Blagotinsek also played for Celje before

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