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Classic rivals clash again in star-studded Match of the Week

Björn Pazen & Kevin Domas

We have passed the halfway mark in the Machineseeker EHF Champions League and this week’s round 8 clashes see clubs face the same opponents for the second week in a row.

The second half of the group phase in group A begins with Veszprém targeting a second straight win against Zagreb, while GOG will try to make up for last week’s loss against Paris. Porto are in desperate need of point as they host SC Magdeburg.

In group B, the legendary duel of Barça (ten-time winners) and THW Kiel (four titles) will be repeated as the Match of the Week after the thrilling draw last week. Celje hope to turn the tide against Szeged, while Kielce could profit from a Barça defeat, if they win in Elverum.

GROUP A

GOG (DEN) vs Paris Saint-Germain HB (FRA)
Wednesday 30 November, 20:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • at the midway point, Paris are second in the group with 12 points, while GOG are fourth, with seven points
  • Paris won the first game between the two teams at home last week (41:36), partly thanks to a stunning performance by goalkeeper Jannick Green (17 saves)
  • this win was the second one in history for Paris against GOG, the first one dating back to 1996
  • Kamil Syprzak, who netted 48 times for Paris, is the second-best scorer in the Champions League. Jerry Tollbring stands in fifth place in the ranking, with 44 goals scored
  • for the second time this season, GOG will host a Champions League game in the Jyske Bank Arena in Odense - the first time was in round 5 for the game against SC Magdeburg
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It is games like the one on Wednesday that drive us as handball players, and we look forward to playing for a packed arena in Odense. I am sure that our fans will create a backdrop that is as good as the one PSG's fans made in Paris. And of course, we believe we can create a surprise on the court.
Simon Pytlick
GOG left back

HC PPD Zagreb (CRO) vs Telekom Veszprém HC (HUN)
Wednesday 30 November, 20:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • last Thursday, Veszprém won the first game of the Champions League season between the two clubs (32:28)
  • this win was the ninth straight for the Hungarian side in their meetings in European competition
  • Veszprém are one of the only two teams, with Barça, that have finished the first part of the group phase undefeated. They are currently on top of the group, with 13 points
  • with 194 goals scored, Zagreb are currently the second least efficient offence in the Champions League, while Veszprem are the second best defence, with 211 goals taken
  • Zagreb and Veszprem added yet another win to their current domestic winning streak over the weekend: Zagreb in Bjelovar (42:23) and Veszprem against Csurgoi (44:28)

Orlen Wisla Plock (POL) vs CS Dinamo Bucuresti (ROU)
Thursday 01 December, 18:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • at the end of the first part of the group phase, Dinamo are ranked fourth in the group, with seven points, while Plock are two spots behind, with five points
  • in the first game between the two sides, last week, Dinamo took the points at home (32:27)
  • both teams’ best scorers have almost identical returns: 31 for Plock’s Lovro Mihic, 30 for Dinamo’s Ali Zein
  • with 197 goals scored, Plock are the third least-efficient attack in the Champions League, while Bucuresti have netted 218 times
  • last weekend, Plock won their twelfth consecutive Polish league game in Wielkopolski (38:28) while Dinamo also took the points against Potaissa Turda (43:28)

FC Porto (POR) vs SC Magdeburg (GER)
Thursday 01 December, 20:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • after 7 rounds, Porto are bottom of the table with zero points, while Magdeburg are ranked third, with nine points
  • in the first game this season between the two sides, Magdeburg won 41:36, beating their record for most goals scored in a Champions League game along the way
  • overall, Magdeburg have won four of the five confrontations between the two teams in the history of European competitions
  • Porto centre back Rui Silva: "We have to begin the match with confidence in what we are doing. We cannot let Magdeburg impose their game here."
  • with his 38 goals, Gisli Kristjansson features in the top 10 of the best scorers in the Champions League
  • Porto’s best scorer, Jack Thurin, has netted 29 times since the beginning of the season

GROUP B

RK Celje Pivovarna Laško (SLO) vs Pick Szeged (HUN)
Wednesday 30 November, 18:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • Szeged won last week’s duel clearly 36:27 - it was their second victory in seven group matches
  • Celje are on two points, their only win by now was on home ground against THW Kiel
  • Celje’s Aleks Vlah is currently the top scorer of the Machineseeker EHF Champions League with 52 goals, best Szeged scorer is Norwegian Kent-Robin Tonessen with 25 strikes
  • Szeged have won the last eight duels against Celje, the last victory of the Slovenian record champions dates back to 2008, the overall balance is eight wins for Szeged, two for Celje and one draw
  • both sides were victorious in their domestic competitions last weekend: Szeged beat NEKA 36:24, Celje won 39:31 against Ribnica - and both sides are second-ranked in their leagues

Elverum Handball (NOR) vs Lomza Industria Kielce (POL)
Wednesday 30 November, 18:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • last week, Kielce beat Elverum 37:30 after a clear 22:14 halftime advantage and thanks to ten goals of Artsem Karalek
  • thanks to this win, Kielce still have a clean record in matches against Elverum, winning three of three
  • while Kielce are Barça’s closest rivals on 12 points, Elverum only won a single group match by now, against Celje
  • the top scorers of both sides have more than 30 goals on their tally: Arkadiusz Moryto (38), Szymon Sicko (37) and Uros Borzas (31)
  • while Elverum did not have a match in the Norwegian league last weekend, Kielce took their 11th victory in the same number of matches in the Polish league with a 40:25 win against Tarnov
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We all know the group table and I think we are favorites. But we are also sure the game will be difficult. Elverum has nothing to lose and it is always difficult to play against that kind of opponent.

We must improve our defensive game because in the last game we made a few mistakes. The offensive game, except for one short moment, was looking quite good.
Alex Dujshebaev
Kielce right back

MOTW: Barça (ESP) vs THW Kiel (GER)
Wednesday 30 November, 20:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • after six consecutive victories in the group phase, Barça dropped their first points in the 30:30 draw away to Kiel last week - in a thrilling endgame, first leading 28:25, then conceding five straight goals and finally scoring the last two
  • Barça top the table by 13 points, while Kiel are on seven points, taking only two points in the last four matches
  • Barça goalkeeper Gonzalo Pérez de Vargas: "Last week's game was strange, because we were better  but we did not prove it until the end of the game. We were close to coming back to Barcelona with no points. But playing at home, we want to win and be on the top of the standings."
  • it is the 31st time the clubs face in official matches, 15 times Barça were the victors, 12 times Kiel – this fixture was three times a final (2000 won by Barça, 2010 and 2020 won by Kiel); the last time they duelled was in semi-final of the EHF FINAL4 2022, when the eventual champions beat THW 34:30
  • top scorers of both sides are two left-handed players: Dika Mem (Barça) with 37 goals and Niklas Elberg (Kiel) with 31
  • after the MOTW, club legend Victor Tomas will have his number 8 jersey retired under the roof of Palau Blaugrana. Tomas, a three-time Champions League winner, played from 2002 until 2020 and was the club captain from 2012

HBC Nantes (FRA) vs Aalborg Håndbold (DEN)
Thursday 1 December, 20:45 CET, live on EHFTV

  • Aalborg won only one of the last five group matches, while Nantes have won five of the last six matches, including the 35:32 last week in Aalborg
  • with ten points on their account, Nantes are already three points ahead of the Danish side
  • Nantes have won two of three duels against Aalborg by now, including the only match on home ground in the 2020/21 group phase
  • Nantes left back Thibaud Briet: "Last week was a big fight. We played our game perfectly, got on the ball quickly and defended very hard. They are probably preparing new things and new tactics to take their revenge."
  • Aalborg centre back Henrik Møllgaard: "In the game in Aalborg, Nantes came with what we expected; I think the result tells more about our own game and actions. They have a good team and it will be fun to play away against them."
  • both sides had been part of the EHF FINAL4: Nantes in 2018 (finalists) and 2021, Aalborg were finalists in 2021
  • Aalborg’s Mikkel Hansen is the third best scorer of the competition with 46 goals, and the top Nantes scorer is Valero Rivera with 33
  • both sides lost their last matches in the domestic leagues: Nantes 32:31 against Toulouse, Aalborg were defeated 31:24 on home court by European League participants Skanderborg-Aarhus

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