SUMMARY: Barça win fascinating MOTW; PSG and Veszprém drop points
The group phase of the Machineseeker EHF Champions League featured its final round before the winter break on Wednesday and Thursday, highlighted by an intriguing Match of the Week in France where Barça beat HBC Nantes 37:33.
- round 10 of the Machineseeker EHF Champions League group phase
- Match of the Week: Barça hold off a Nantes comeback to win MOTW 37:33
- other results, Thursday: Dinamo and Veszprém share the points (31:31) and Zagreb take two costly points in Plock (30:26) in group A; Kielce beat Celje 36:28 while Kiel earn a 30:26 victory in Aalborg in group B
- Wednesday: Magdeburg stun PSG in Paris 37:33 and GOG earn a narrow 34:33 win over Porto in group A; Szeged take the points in Elverum (34:32) in group B
- check the updated group standings and watch match highlights on the Home of Handball YouTube channel
- the Machineseeker EHF Champions League returns on 8/9 February 2023
- Eric Willemsen reported
Thursday 15 December 2022
Phew, what a night to close out the year 2022 for the Machineseeker EHF Champions League! The MOTW between Nantes and Barça has fully lived up to its billing with that scintillating second half, while round 10 has had more exciting stuff and surprises on offer. The pictures below are the proof!
Here ends our coverage of round 10... and we will only be back in eight weeks' time, on 8/9 February 2023 to be precise, for the first of the last four rounds of the group phase. However, there is still a whole lot of handball going on in the meantime.
So, for now it is goodnight, happy holidays, and stay healthy!
Of course, you can also watch the highlights of all round 10 matches on our Home of Handball YouTube channel, where you find the MOTW between Nantes and Barça but also the other games. Check it out!
What a night to close the year 2022 for the Machineseeker EHF Champions League. Read all what happened in our last three match reviews for round 10, written by EHF journalists Björn Pazen and Kevin Domas:
And confirmation again that a French player has been named Player of the Match tonight – though it wasn't a Nantes player, it was Barça line player Ludovic Farbregas:
The stats after the MOTW: interestingly, Nantes end with a higher shot efficiency than Barça. It is fair to say that the French team's attack is not the reason they have lost this clash, it has been their defence, especially in the first half. Also, Barça's goalkeeper duo Gonzalo Pérez de Vargas and Emil Nielsen making the difference between the posts...
In the other games tonight, Kiel beat Aalborg 30:26 as 10 different players of the German team make the scoresheet, led by Sander Sagosen with six goals, while Kristian Bjørnsen has eight for Aalborg. It means that Kiel will remain in fourth place of group B.
Over in group A, Zagreb take a mighty important win over Plock by the exact same result: 30:26. The Croatian side is now just one point behind fifth-place GOG in the standings, while Plock's hopes to make the play-offs have suffered a severely hit tonight.
It looked so easy in the first half, it was so hard in the second. Barça come out on top in a fascinating MOTW against Nantes but have had to dig deep, as right back Dika Mem acknowledges right after the game:
We played really good today. It is always difficult to win here in Nantes. I think we played a really great first half, but it is normal, they play at home, they get back by one goal, so it was hard to win here.
22:15 RESULT | Nantes vs Barça 33:37 (16:22)
What a match it has been in the second half! Great work by Nantes to push Barça to the limit, but the defending champions step it just in time and finish with a clear win. Ludovic Fabregas the top scorer with eight goals - and the Player of the Match.
Barça avoid the equaliser by Nantes and instead increase the lead to three again: 35:32 with three minutes left. Wow, they might win it, but oh, have they been made work (and sweat) hard for this!
Elsewhere, Kiel seem on their way to victory in Aalborg (27:22 with eight minutes left), while all is still open in Plock, where Zagreb have a slim 24:23 lead.
What a comeback from Nantes! Backed by the loud crowd of 10,322 fans in the Neodif XXL they are now just one behind in the MOTW: 31:30 for Barça. This is a turnaround that did not seem on the cards at all at half-time.
(As was this goal from Barça Domen Makuc earlier:)
Team timeout Barça. Carlos Ortega needs to gather his players as Nantes have suddenly reduced the gap in this MOTW to just three (31:28). From seven back to three, can Nantes keep this going?
Early tonight, we spoke about the influence of Xavier Pascual in his second season as Dinamo coach. Here is what the head coach has said after the draw with Veszprém:
I have a team that fight, fight, fight. It was very complicated in the first half, but then we came back. It is incredible, and doesn't matter who played. For me, it is not a question about one guy, it is all about our team. That is why I am very proud to be their coach. It is a great gift for our fans.
Barça still six goals up (26:20) after six minutes in the second half, but a heartbreaking moment as Haniel Langaro goes down with an apparent knee injury and has to be carried off the court by his teammates. Ouch!
Also half-time leads for the visitors in the two simultaneous games, with Zagreb leading 14:13 in Plock, and Kiel 16:14 in Aalborg.
While those two games could still go either way after the break, it is hard to see another winner coming out of MOTW than Barça...
21:22 HALF-TIME | Nantes vs Barça 16:22
Nantes had XXL hopes from the MOTW in their Neodif XXL arena, but it is Barça with a XXL lead at the break. Nantes too weak in defence; condecing 22 times in the first half is just too much to handle. The half-time stats, especially in terms of efficiency, tell the story of this MOTW so far:
In Aalborg, Kiel goalkeeper Niklas Landin with an acrobatic save:
Nantes have beaten Barça only once in eight previous duels – 29:25 in a group phase match in December 2017. Can they repeat the feat five years later?
So far, it is all about Barça, who have gone 10:6 up in the opening quarter.
Elsewhere, Zagreb doing well with a 6:3 lead at Plock, while Kiel also have a healthy away lead: 8:4 at Aalborg. Are we going to close 2022 with three away wins?!
We are 11 minutes underway in MOTW and Barça are already well up on Nantes: 8:4. Barça's French international Dika Mem the leading scorer with four.
Just before the MOTW throws off, here are the match reviews from tonight's earlier games, written by Adrian Costeiu and Björn Pazen:
What a venue for the MOTW: here is the Neodif XXL in Nantes:
About 15 minutes and the last three matches in the Machineseeker EHF Champions League in the year 2022 will throw off. We will focus on our Match of the Week between Nantes and Barça, but will keep you updated on what happens at Plock vs Zagreb and Aalborg vs Kiel as well, of course.
20:18 RESULT | KIELCE vs CELJE 36:28 (18:15)
In the end a clear result, as expected by many, in favour of Kielce. But the favourites have been made work hard for this, as Celje demonstrated their talent in impressive style for the first 25 minutes. Arkadiusz Moryto again Kielce's leading scorer, with eight goals; Ante Ivankovic has nine for Celje.
20:15 RESULT | DINAMO vs VESZPRÉM 31:31 (13:16)
It is a draw! A miraculous save by Khalifa Ghedbane on a last-second shot from Petar Nenadic saves the points for Dinamo. A deserved result for a match with two different faces.
If this match ends in a draw (it is 30:30 at the moment), Veszprém will join PSG as group A leaders with 15 points each.
Of course, Veszprém hoping for a bit more...
No matter how this match ends, but it is another confirmation of the great work Xavi Pascual has been doing. In his first year with Dinamo, after having won countless trophies with Barça, the coach not always managed to put his stamp on the Romanian team. Now in his second year, the hand of Pascual is more visible and Dinamo have become strong contenders – and difficult opponents even for the big teams.
Veszprém controlled the last part of the first half, Dinamo the first part of the second half. Amd here we are, stuck at 26:26 with 10 minutes left. Andrii Akimento for the hosts and Mikita Vailupau for the visitors both woth six goals from eight attempts the leading scorers.
But arguably Dinamo's nicest goal has come from Lazar Kukic:
While Dinamo vs Veszprém is wide open again, Kielce vs Celje keeps going the home team's way.
What is happening in Bucharest?! Veszprém have not scored in the first six minutes after the break, but Dinamo have – five times, and they now lead 18:16. What a bizarre turnaround this is!
19:24 HALF-TIME | DINAMO vs VESZPRÉM 13:16
Veszprém have edged ahead after the opening quarter and look like having this game under control. Remarkably, only five players for Veszprém on the scoresheet so far; both Petar Nenadic and Bjarki Mar Elisson with four goals.
19:21 HALF-TIME | KIELCE vs CELJE 18:15
Well, what a difference five minutes can make..! Celje suddenly lose their grip on the game in the closing stage of the opening half as Kielce use a 4:0 run to go 18:14 up, before Celje can at least reduce the gap to three before the break.
Experience counts, and that is Kielce's surplus over Celje, for sure.
Celje doing an impressive job in Poland so far, keeping Kielce in check. It is 14:14 at the moment. And Ante Ivankovic has netted six times already:
We are back level in Kielce: 13:13 in the 21st minute. Team timeout for Celje, as they have lost a four-goal lead (10:6) but want to keep their high level up now.
Veszprém and Dinamo very much in the balance for the opening quarter. And Petar Nenadic doing his thing:
Brave start from Celje in Kielce: the visitors from Slovenia are two goals up in the opening 10 minutes.
"Hey, Arpad, do you have a direct link to our match on EHFTV?"
"Sure, Cédric, here you go!"
(Of course, Kielce vs Celje is also live on EHFTV now.)
In the second match at 18:45 CET, there is also a top spot at stake – in group B, where Kielce can take the lead with a win over Celje... at least for two hours. Current leaders Barça will of course end the year 2022 on top of group B if they win the Match of the Week against Nantes later tonight.
I have to admit that I don't understand Polish, but I can imagine what it means when Kielce head coach Talant Dujshebaev uses the word "optimyzmem":
Veszprém can give themselves an early Christmas present: top spot in group A! Current leaders PSG lost to Magdeburg on Wednesday, opening the door for Veszprém, who are one point behind. However, in Bucharest tonight, the Hungarian side will have to do without their Egyptian star, Yahia Omar, as they have just announced on Twitter.
Opponents Dinamo will remain in fourth place, no matter tonight's result. However, they will want to keep the gap to third-place Magdeburg on two points like before this round, and they need a win for that to happen.
Good evening, and welcome back – for the last time in the calendar year 2022 – to the live blog for the Machineseeker EHF Champions League.
We are going to close round 10 tonight with five appealing matches, and the first two are set to throw off in just over half an hour in Bucharest and Kielce:
There'll be a short break in the blog now while we prepare for the evening ahead. In the meantime, Barça confirmed their squad yesterday. Nantes have made two key announcements in terms of personnel this week: left back Thibaud Briet, who turned 23 yesterday and has been superb this season, has extended his contract until June 2028. Meanwhile Manuel Gaspar has joined from Sporting as a back-up goalkeeper, as Nantes' amazing Icelandic talent Viktor Hallgrímsson is currently out injured. Gaspar is not named on the match line-up today, however, with Andreas Hoffman backing up Ivan Pesic.
Group A ends tonight with Plock hosting Zagreb. Zagreb have been on the up recently, beating Veszprém and drawing with Dinamo last week, while Plock have lost four matches in a row. Another win for Zagreb would be a big step in their hunt for the play-offs. Last time they met the teams drew 26:26.
Here's Plock's squad for the match:
As well as MOTW at 20:45, we have another showdown between Aalborg and Kiel. In their first encounter the match ended in a 36:36 draw, and since then neither side has had an enormous success - Aalborg have lost the four successive matches, while Kiel beat Nantes last week after three losses. Aalborg has reported the match is sold out, and Kiel says their fans are en route.
The early matches tonight give Veszprém and Kielce a chance to end 2022 atop the group standings. Veszprém arguably have a better shot at this - they are one point behind PSG after their defeat by Magdeburg last night, and they beat Dinamo 33:30 in round 3. But Dinamo are on a four-game unbeaten run and Veszprém's last away game saw them beaten by Zagreb.
The game will be marked, as is traditional when these two sides meet, with a moment of silence in memory of Marian Cozma who played for both clubs and was stabbed in a fight in Veszprém in 2009.
Kielce are also second by a point, but with Barça playing later a victory would not guarantee them first place. The first match between Celje and Kielce in Slovenia resulted in a 33:30 win for the visitors, and although Celje snapped their losing streak last week against Elverum Kielce on home ground are a tough ask. Here's the Kielce squad ...
Can you believe it? It's the last day of the Machineseeker EHF Champions League in 2022 - indeed, the last games until February, as players depart for Christmas and the 2023 IHF Men's World Championship next month.
But we're going to end on a high, with five thrilling games on the schedule: Dinamo vs Veszprém and Kielce vs Celje first up at 18:45 CET, followed by the Match of the Week between Nantes vs Barça, plus Plock vs Zagreb and Aalborg vs Kiel at 20:45 CET.
The MOTW is taking place in Nantes' Neodif XXL arena, which seats 10,000 people and is sure to be packed. Nantes fans always create a superb atmosphere and against Barça, in such a hall, it will be electric!
Before the match, EHF journalist Kevin Domas had a chat with Nantes' Spanish right wing Kauldi Odriozola about his move to the French club and what he hopes from tonight's game. Well worth a read!
Wednesday 14 December
Here ends our coverage of the opening night of round 10, which has seen Magdeburg come back from four goals behind at half-time to beat group A leaders PSG in Paris, and both GOG and Szeged taking narrow wins.
This last round before the eight-week winter break will be completed with five more matches on Thursday, including the MOTW in France between Nantes and Barça at 20:45 CET. So make sure to join us again tomorrow from late in the afternoon for your last portion of Machineseeker EHF Champions League action in 2022!
For now, it is goodnight and we leave you with the best pictures of this evening:
GOG end their three-game losing streak (well, they played PSG twice and Magdeburg away, so this streak sounds more dramatic then it actually is) with a very narrow win over Porto, who squander a good chance in the closing minutes to take at least one point.
This is the match review from EHF journalist Kevin Domas:
22:18 RESULT | GOG vs PORTO 34:33 (15:13)
A red card for Daymaro Salina in the penultimate minute and then a one-goal defeat... things are just not going Porto's way at all this season, and their story continues in the same fashion in Denmark.
Certainly not GOG's best match of the year, but a win is a win... Morten Olsen with 10 goals and Emil Madsen with eight their best shooters; Tobias Thulin important with 15 saves.
Exactly what you need in such a tight battle: a great goalkeeper!
This one is really going down to the wire: GOG and Porto are stuck at 30 all, with five minutes left. Impossible to predict who will take the points here tonight!
Porto just never give up:
Team timeout Porto. "Now we fall asleep in defence," says coach Magnus Andersson to his players. Porto with a strong start into the second half, but a 4:1 run has put GOG back into the lead: 23:21. This remains anybody's game!
21:24 HALF-TIME | GOG vs PORTO 15:13
A late turnover and a buzzer beater by Lukas Jørgensen give GOG a two-goal lead at the break. Porto still very much in with a chance to take at least one point back with them to Portugal. GOG's Morten Olsen with six goals the leading scorer, Tobias Thulin with nine saves (42%) a big factor to the home team's lead, too.
Team timeout GOG. The Danish side are having more troubles with Porto than they (and many others) might have expected before the match. On the other hand, we all know Porto are better than their one point from nine matches suggests...
Anyway, GOG 14:13 up with two minutes until the break.
Both teams have been in the lead, but GOG and Porto are currently level at 12 all. Great save by Porto's Sebastian Frandsen this:
Let's hear from Magdeburg goalkeeper Mike Jensen, one of the standout players for the German side in their excellent 37:33 away win over PSG:
We are really proud. Everything was fast today. We were really good in offence. During the second half, we scored on each of our occasions. It’s not often that teams win in Paris, so we can be proud of us today. It was a really good performance and we have to go on.
GOG scoring some nice goals on home court, but Porto are enjoying a surprise early lead in Denmark: 8:7 after the opening quarter. Remember, the Portuguese side have gathered just one point from their previous nine matches...
While the last match of tonight is running in Denmark, here are both reviews of the earlier games, written by EHF journalists Kevin Domas and Björn Pazen:
You know these EHF Champions League nights: no time to waste, so on to the next match. We go to Denmark where GOG host Porto in group A.
Just like all other matches, you can watch this game live on EHFTV, but depending on your location, geo-restrictions might apply.
And look what it means to Magdeburg! A class win in Paris, which ends PSG's eight-match winning streak:
20:15 RESULT | PSG vs MAGDEBURG 33:37 (19:15)
Wunderbar! What a reaction from Magdeburg after the break, when they battle their way back into the game and 'win' the second half 22:14 - and, more importantly, the match 37:33!
Their Icelandic duo absolute key for Magdeburg tonight, with Ómar Ingi Magnussen scoring 12 times and Gisli Thorgeir Kristjansson nine. Also, Mike Jensen again a wall between the posts.
What a win for Magdeburg, which could become very important in the battle for the top-two spots in group A.
20:12 RESULT | ELVERUM vs SZEGED 32:34 (14:19)
Well done Elverum in the second half, but the damage has been done before the break. Mario Sostaric and Sebastian Frimmel with six goals each give Szeged a deserved win in Norway.
PSG won the away match in Magdeburg clearly, 29:22, but are now in serious danger of dropping two points against the same opponents. Remarkably how they turned an early deficit into what looked like a healthy half-time lead, only to let Magdeburg come back into the game in the second half.
Remember, if PSG are to lose, Veszprém could go top of group A tomorrow!
Magdeburg three ahead in Paris (31:28) with six minutes left on the clock. And Ómar Ingi Magnusson has raised his tally to 11...
PSG goalkeeper Jannick Green with 12 saves so far against his former team, but Magdeburg are back in the lead in Paris: 24:22. What a rollercoaster match this is!
Over in Norway, the match between Elverum and Szeged now also very much in the balance, with the hosts quickly recovering from their 19:14 half-time deficit and now trailing by just one: 24:23.
Magdeburg again with the better start, just like in the first half. They are back within one from PSG (21:20) after seven minutes!
19:27 HALF-TIME | ELVERUM vs SZEGED 14:19
Elverum have lost the plot a bit after their strong start and a 5:3 lead in seven minutes. A 6:0 run for Szeged has turned the match around and the Hungarian visitors have not looked back since.
Uros Borzas for the hosts and Kent Robin Tønnesen for the guests the leading scorers with four goals each.
19:23 HALF-TIME | PSG vs MAGDEBURG 19:15
Shrugging off their loose start, PSG have turned out to be the more effective team and go into the dressing rooms with a healthy four-goal lead.
Nikola Karabatic and Ferran Sole for PSG, and Matthias Musche and Gisli Thorgeir Kristjansson for Magdeburg all with four goals; Ómar Ingi Magnussen stuck at his early five.
Brilliant stuff! Here is the handful of early goals for Magdeburg's Ómar Ingi Magnusson against PSG:
PSG have overcome their early scare and 3:0 deficit against Magdeburg and now lead by two: 13:11. This was their first goal:
PSG have restored the pecking order. A 7:2 run has given the group A leaders a 12:10 lead over Magdeburg. Good-old Nikola Karabatic has netted four times so far.
Meanwhile in the simultaneous group B match, Elverum are trailing Szeged 10:6 but have scored one the best goals of the match so far:
Our prediction earlier here on the live blog that we might see a lot of goals in Paris is coming true so far: 8:6 for Magdeburg after eight minutes and Ómar Ingi Magnussen is already on a stunning five goals from five efforts!
Wow, what a start in Paris! Not even two minutes on the clock and Magdeburg are already 3:0 up!
Teams are getting ready, throw-off in 10 minutes in Paris and Elverum!
Arguably the most appealing match tonight starts at 18:45 CET in Paris: Group A leaders PSG take on third-place Magdeburg.
PSG lost their season opener in Veszprém last September (34:32) but have since been on an eight-match winning streak, which includes their 29:22 victory in Magdeburg in round 3. If PSG win again, they are guaranteed to go into the winter break as group A leaders; in case of a draw or defeat, Veszprém could overtake them tomorrow with a win at Dinamo in Bucharest.
Magdeburg are having a strong return to Europe's top flight this season, ranked third and still in with a chance to finish in the top two and skip the play-offs for a direct entry into the quarter-finals.
We might see a lot of goals tonight, as PSG have the most productive attack of all 16 group phase teams. Also, five of the 10 best scorers in the EHF Champions League so far are involved in this match: Kamil Syprzak, Dainis Kristopans and Elohim Prandi for PSG; Gisli Kristjansson and Ómar Ingi Magnusson for Magdeburg.
In one of the two matches starting at 18:45 CET, Elverum host Szeged in group B, with the Norwegian hosts in a somewhat similar position to Porto over in group A.
Elverum are bottom of the table with two points but would definitely boost their play-off chances with a win tonight, which would see them go level with Celje on four points, just two behind Szeged in sixth place.
But Szeged have lost only once in six matches in the past against Elverum, and also clearly won the reverse fixture earlier this season in Hungary: 30:23.
So, we have three matches coming up tonight. Let's have a look at them in backwards order, so starting with the last match, at 20:45 CET: GOG against Porto in group A.
GOG won the reverse fixture in Portugal 33:26 in October and seem favourites to add another win tonight. Their leading scorers Simon Pytlick (53 goals) and Emil Madsen (48) are hard to stop for any defence, and Porto have conceded the most goals in group A so far: 295, except for one other team... GOG have conceded 302!
While GOG are ranked fifth with seven points, Porto are bottom of the table with just one point and they need a quick turnaround in fortunes to maintain any realistic hope of reaching the coveted sixth position and a place in the play-offs. Can they do it tonight?
The group phase is certainly not fading out near the end of the calendar year, as five of the eight matches in round 10 are scheduled for Thursday, including the MOTW Nantes vs Barça in the last time slot at 20:45 CET! What a way to wave goodbye to the competition for two months...
Anyway, we start the round with three games tonight, and there is enough action to keep you on the edge of your seats.
But first you want some highlights from last week? We hear you! Here is the Best 7 from round 9:
For an in-depth look at all eight matches tonight and tomorrow, read the round preview written by our EHF journalists Björn Pazen and Kevin Domas:
Good afternoon, and welcome to the very last Machineseeker EHF Champions League live blog...
... in 2022! We are entering round 10 tonight, the final round before Europe's top flight heads into an eight-week winter break. Although, it won't be much of a real break for many of the stars, as they will join their national teams for the 2023 IHF World Championship in Poland and Sweden in January.
But first let's look at what is coming our way tonight and tomorrow. We are two hours away from throw-off of the first matches and here is the full playing schedule for round 10: