GROUP A/B PREVIEW: Aalborg, Flensburg, PSG and Vardar are the only four teams who are yet to drop a point ahead of round 3 of the VELUX EHF Champions League 2019/20

Four teams eye third straight win

Match of the Week moves north this weekend, and for the first time in the VELUX EHF Champions League 2019/20 season, it will include two teams from group A: Elverum Handball and Paris Saint-Germain.

But the battle will be huge on four courts, as PSG, SG Flensburg-Handewitt and Aalborg Handball will try to keep their winning streaks going. For Elverum Handball, HC PPD Zagreb and RK Celje, these clashes will be another chance to open their record in the Champions League.

Meanwhile, group B’s ties pit unbeaten HC Vardar against winless HC Motor Zaporozhye, while FC Porto Sofarma will try to extend their five-game winning streak on the home court when they meet PGE VIVE Kielce. Playing away versus Montpellier HB, Veszprém will try to bounce back after last week’s heavy defeat against THW Kiel. 

GROUP A 
MOL-Pick Szeged (HUN) vs SG Flensburg-Handewitt (GER)
Saturday 28 September, 17:30 local time, live on ehfTV.com

  • Szeged and Flensburg battled last season in the group phase, with each winning their home games by two goals

  • This will be the first time Szeged right wing Bogdan Radivojevic plays against his former team wearing the Hungarian side’s jersey

  • Szeged are undefeated at home since December 2017 – they have not lost any of their last 12 Champions League games on the home court

  • The last time Flensburg won a European cup game in Hungary was in 2012, when they defeated FTC in the Cup Winners’ Cup. The following four trips to Hungary saw only defeats

MOTW: Elverum Handball (NOR) vs Paris Saint-Germain HB (FRA)
Saturday 28 September, 17:30 local time, live on ehfTV.com

  • The game will be played in Hakons Hall in Lillehammer, a venue built for the 1994 Winter Olympics, which has twice hosted the Women’s World Championship

  • Elverum aim to beat the record for most spectators at a handball game in Norway

  • Paris will play without Sander Sagosen, the local hero, who suffered a hamstring injury on Wednesday

  • The French side are currently second in the group with four points, while Elverum are still looking for their first point this season

HC PPD Zagreb (CRO) vs Barça (ESP)
Saturday 28 September, 20:30 local time, live on ehfTV.com

  • From 1997 to 1999, the two teams battled for the title in the EHF Champions League three seasons in a row

  • Barcelona lead the head-to-head statistics clearly, as the Spanish side won 19 contests while Zagreb only took one, in 2012

  • Zagreb changed coach this week, with Branko Tamse replaced by Veselin Vujovic with immediate effect

  • Zagreb have not won a Champions League game since February 10, 2019 – a five-game streak without a victory

RK Celje Pivovarna Lasko (SLO) vs Aalborg Handbold (DEN)
Sunday 29 September, 17:00 local time, live on ehfTV.com

  • Celje suffered their biggest ever defeat in the Champions League last weekend in Barcelona (21:45)

  • Aalborg currently have the third most effective defence in the competition and also count the third top scorer of the competition, Norwegian left wing Sebastian Barthold, in their roster

  • With 45 goals scored and 70 against, Celje have the poorest goal difference in all four groups so far

Celje-Flensburg2_565

GROUP B
FC Porto Sofarma (POR) vs PGE VIVE Kielce (POL)
Saturday 28 September, 19:00 local time, live on ehfTV.com

  • Porto are unbeaten in their last five games on the home court, and have lost only three home matches in the entire history in the competition

  • For the first time in the past three seasons, Kielce can start the group phase with a three-game unbeaten streak

  • With a win, Kielce can stay near Vardar and Kiel, the other two unbeaten teams in the group, in the battle for the first place

  • The two sides met three times in the premium European competition, with Kielce taking all three wins with an average goal difference of 8.6 goals per game

HC Motor Zaporozhye (UKR) vs HC Vardar (UKR)
Sunday 29 September, 18:00 local time, live on ehfTV.com

  • During this clash, Vardar will become only the 12th team in the competition’s history to score 4,000 goals overall. They are currently on a tally of 3,989 

  • The title holders are leading the group after two games and two wins, while Motor are last, with a -19 goal difference after losing both matches at the start of the season

  • The hosts have not won in the past five matches, while Vardar travel to Ukraine with a five-game winning streak behind them, including the two matches in the VELUX EHF FINAL4 last season

  • A win would keep the Macedonian side in first place for another round – after they started the past five seasons with three group phase wins in a row 

  • The two sides have never met in a European competition before

Montpellier HB (FRA) vs Telekom Veszprém HC (HUN)
Sunday 29 September, 19:00 local time, live on ehfTV.com

  • Both teams started the season with a win and a loss. Veszprém crashed to an unexpected home defeat against Kiel last week, 37:31 – their first of the season in all competitions

  • The Hungarian side can clinch their 190th win in the history of the top European competition on Sunday. Only Barça (221) beat Veszprém in this ranking

  • Veszprém and Montpellier both won their midweek games. The French side swerved past Tremblay, 26:25, in the domestic league, while Veszprém defeated Spartak Moscow 26:23 in the SEHA League

  • The two sides have met 14 times in the VELUX EHF Champions League, with Veszprém taking 10 wins, opposed to Montpellier’s four. The Hungarian team won the last six games between the two, including the last four, played in the past two seasons

TEXT: Kevin Domas / Adrian Costeiu / cg