SUMMARY: Dramatic Plock victory completes play-off lineup

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The concluding round 14 delivered the final decisions in the Machineseeker EHF Champions League group phase. The eight-game schedule was highlighted by Paris Saint-Germain Handball defeating Telekom Veszprém HC 37:35 in a scintillating Match of the Week, a result that sent SC Magdeburg through to the quarter-finals directly.


Thursday 2 March 2023


Wow, what a night! We are still catching our breath but this wraps up our coverage of round 14 – and of the group phase, for that matter. Remember you can find all match reviews here on eurohandball.com.

The Machineseeker EHF Champions League resumes with the play-offs on 22/23 and 29/30 March. Here is the schedule:

  • Veszprém vs Szeged -> winners play Kielce in quarter-finals
  • GOG vs Aalborg -> winners play Barça in quarter-finals
  • Dinamo vs Kiel -> winners play PSG in quarter-finals
  • Plock vs Nantes -> winners play Magdeburg in quarter-finals

Thanks for joining us on the live blog and see you again soon! For now, it is good night and relive this evening one more time with the best pictures in our gallery:


Let's hear from Tin Lucin, with nine goals one of the key players for Plock in their thrilling win over Porto:

20230302 CLM R14 Live Blog Gallery 16
It was a good game and a good fight. We are happy because this allows us to go to next stage, and it was only for one goal, so we are really happy that we did this. Now we just want to celebrate and then get back to work.
Tin Lucin
Orlen Wisla Plock left back


Let's talk about the road to the TruckScout24 EHF FINAL4 2023. We have seen the four play-pairings, but what about the quarter-finals?

Here we go:

  • Veszprém vs Szeged -> winners play Kielce in quarter-finals
  • GOG vs Aalborg -> winners play Barça in quarter-finals
  • Dinamo vs Kiel -> winners play PSG in quarter-finals
  • Plock vs Nantes -> winners play Magdeburg in quarter-finals


Three one-goal wins tonight, what a way to finish the group phase! Here is the overview of all results in the concluding round 14 yesterday and tonight:


More expressive Plock celebrations, this time coach Xavier Sabate:


Watch what it means to Plock to book this, literally, last-minute ticket to the play-offs:


Here are the four pairings for the play-offs:

  • Veszprém vs Szeged
  • GOG vs Aalborg
  • Dinamo vs Kiel
  • Plock vs Nantes

The first leg is 22/23 March, the second leg 29/30 March.

22:22 RESULT | Magdeburg vs Dinamo 34:33 (19:17)

It did get close in the end, but Magdeburg keep the points at home and Dinamo finish group in fifth, so they can prepare for a clash with another German team in the play-offs: Kiel! 

22:18 RESULT | Porto vs Plock 27:28 (13:15)

What. A. Finish! High drama in Porto as Plock hold on to a one-goal lead until the final buzzer to squeeze into the play-offs.

Congrats to Plock, commiserations to Zagreb who so narrowly miss the play-offs...


Last minute, last timeout. Can Plock hold on to their narrow lead?


Oh, this is one of those nights... Plock are now back level in Porto: 24:24. Six minutes left on the clock...


Tim Hornke, what a goal:


This is such an intense battle in Porto! Chapeau to the home team who want to leave the competition with their heads up high. Plock need to find a solution soon, current score: 23:21...


Magdeburg, meanwhile, lead Dinamo 30:25, so the Romanian team's dream to edge GOG for fourth place will likely not come true.

Unless something truly exceptional happens in the last 15 minutes in Magdeburg, we can say that GOG finish fourth in group A and will play Aalborg, while Dinamo rank fifth and play Kiel in the play-offs.


A two-goal lead for Porto! Is this match drifting away from Plock? Remember, Plock must win, otherwise their European season ends tonight. 


Don't think the deal has been sealed for Plock with that half-time lead: Porto have hit back and currently lead 18:17! That result would mean Zagreb are through and Plock are out...

This last decision of the group phase is really going down to the wire tonight.

21:24 HALF-TIME | Porto vs Plock 13:15

Plock on course to the play-offs?! They must win this match to overtake Zagreb, and have been in control of most of the first half.

Tin Lucin with five their best scorer; Jack Thurin leads with six for the hosts.

21:21 HALF-TIME | Magdeburg vs Dinamo 19:17

Magdeburg have nothing at stake but are playing to win. So are Dinamo, who eye fourth place in the group. They have stayed level with Magdeburg for most of the first half but dropped three down several times.

Magdeburg's Tim Hornke with five from five the best shooter so far.


14:11 – so far, so good for Plock. Xavier Sabate can be satisfied just before the break in Porto.


Plock remain ahead in Porto, 12:10 now. Nothing decisive yet, far from, but imagine the nerves in Zagreb at the moment...


Elsewhere, Magdeburg and Dinamo are locked at 12:12. Remember, Dinamo must win to grab that fourth spot.

So far, this has been a spinning match:


Strong start from Plock for an early 8:4 lead in their must-win match at Porto, but the hosts are coming back: 9:7 at the moment.


One more time so we are all on the same page:

  • Dinamo finish fourth and GOG finish fifth if Dinamo beat Magdeburg;
  • GOG finish fourth and Dinamo finish fifth if Dinamo do not beat Magdeburg;
  • Zagreb finish sixth and Plock finish seventh if Plock do not beat Porto;
  • Plock finish sixth and Zagreb finish seventh if Plock beat Porto.

Of course, the final standings determine the pairings for the play-offs. Before tonight's last two matches, the play-off lineup looks as follows:

  • Veszprém vs Szeged
  • A4 (Dinamo or GOG) vs Aalborg
  • A5 (GOG or Dinamo) vs Kiel
  • A6 (Zagreb or Plock) vs Nantes


Magdeburg vs Dinamo, the second match starting at 20:45 CET, is important for the visitors from Romania. They are for sure through to the play-offs, but can improve their final position: fourth if they beat Magdeburg, fifth with any other result.

And Magdeburg? Since Veszprém's defeat in MOTW against PSG yesterday, the German side know they finish second and are through to the quarter-finals.


Time to turn our attention to the last two matches of this season's group phase... and to the last two decisions!

First of all, Plock are playing for their chance to snatch a play-off spot (and throw Zagreb out of the competition). Their only task is: winning in Porto! No other result will help them.

And Porto? They know this is their last European match this season...


Confirmation of the final standings in group B:

20:12 RESULT | Kielce vs Barça 31:32 (12:13)

Barça keep their clean sheet in the group phase! They have come very close to dropping a point for the second time – after their earlier draw with Kiel – but come away with their 13th win.

Timothey N'guessan scores his sixth to put Barça 32:31 ahead with half a minute left, but Alex Dujshebaev is denied the chance of a late equaliser for Kielce due to a technical error. 

Barça win group B, Kielce finish second. Though we knew that before the game, it was a good watch.


It doesn't always have to be jump shots...


Good stuff! Halfway through the second half and we are completely level: 23:23. Just what you hope for in a match like this. Impossible to predict the winner now...


Wow, there you go: Kielce have turned it around and lead 20:17! The main difference, really, is the scoring efficiency: Kielce 70%, Barça50%. Time for a team timeout for Barça...


You can check your socials at home. If you come to the arena, then cheer for your club! ;-)

19:20 HALF-TIME | Kielce vs Barça 12:13

Some hectic last seconds as Artur Parera hits the cross bar and fails to make it 14:11 for Barça, before Alex Dujshebaev puts one past Emil Nielsen just before the buzzer to reduce Kielce's deficit to just one.

Barça seemed heading for a big lead at some point but this match is still very much in the balance.


Acrobatic save from Andreas Wolff prevents Kielce from dropping further behind against Barça:


New tactics for Kielce? Alex Dujshebaev explains Benoit Kounkoud how the hosts can catch up with Barça as they still trail by three goals after three-quarter of the first half.


The better start for Barça: they have a 4:0 run to go 6:3 up against Kielce in the opening 14 minutes. Half of Barça's production so far comes from Luis Frade.


Barça call it a "Partit sense pressió però amb ambició" – A match without pressure but with ambition. Tune in to EHFTV now to watch Kielce vs Barça live! (Geo-restrictions may apply.)


Pre-warmups between Kielce and Barça are in full flow:


We are 50 minutes away from throw-off and what a way to start the final night of the group phase: Kielce vs Barça!

It was the final last year and both teams have long been confirmed as quarter-finalists in the current campaign, but there are no test matches or friendly games in the Machineseeker EHF Championship. Honour and confidence are at stake for both, so we expect quite some clash in the Hala Legionów tonight. 

Here is the complete schedule for tonight:


The last of the round's matches will determine who finishes fourth and fifth in group A. Thanks to PSG's MOTW win against Veszprém, Magdeburg are safe in second, but Dinamo can bump themselves ahead of GOG if they win.

If they're fourth, they will face Aalborg in the play-offs with a potential quarter-final against Barça. If they're fifth, they meet Kiel in the play-offs, with PSG awaiting in the quarter-finals.


Arguably the most important game tonight is the one in Porto. After hosting - and winning - their postponed round 12 game against Zagreb on Sunday, Porto are now welcoming Plock. 

Porto are out of the running, and the maths is simple: Plock must win to go through. A draw is not enough, as Zagreb beat the Polish team in round 10 and the two drew in round 5. 

Although Plock beat Porto in round 1, the Portuguese side have had a late resurgence in their performance, beating Dinamo and Zagreb and coming within two goals of Veszprém. They want to finish on a high.



Today's action begins with a replay of the EHF FINAL4 final 2022, as Kielce host Barça. Barça are confirmed in top spot in the group but are unbeaten in 21 Champions League games, including that final, and definitely want to win again tonight! 

Here are the squads:




Here it is, the last day of the Machineseeker EHF Champions League 2022/23 group phase - and we still don't know if the last team in the play-offs is Zagreb or Plock! Plock have it all in their hands, but face a resurgent Porto and their fans to get through. 

Here's the evening's schedule.

Wednesday 1 March


Here ends our coverage of the opening night of round 14. One more night and three matches to go in the group phase. This is what we have coming up for you on Thursday:

  • 18:45 CET, group B: Kielce vs Barça
  • 20:45 CET, group A: Magdeburg vs Dinamo
  • 20:45 CET, group A: Porto vs Plock

We are going to see three quarter-finalists in action: Kielce, Barça, and Magdeburg; and three teams who are not sure yet what their final position in the group will be: Dinamo, Porto, and Plock. And the latter team doesn't even know yet whether they will go to the play-offs at all...

So much to look forward to! So please join us again on the live blog tomorrow. For now, it is good night and enjoy the best pictures of the day:


Five matches played, five match reviews from EHF journalists Björn Pazen and Kevin Domas to be read:


So, what do we know and what do we still not know with just three matches left in the group phase?

  • We know all four teams directly through to the quarter-finals: PSG, Magdeburg, Barça, and Kielce.
  • We know one play-off pairing: Veszprém vs Szeged (!).
  • We do not know the positions four through seven in the final standings of group A, so we don't know the other three play-off pairings.
  • We even do not know all teams through to the play-offs, as the final spot from group A (either Zagreb or Plock) will only be confirmed after Thursday's Porto vs Plock game.


What is Szeged coach Juan Carlos Pastor gesturing here? "Stay calm, it is only Veszprém next"?


What we know about the final standings of group A:

  • 1. PSG – to quarter-finals
  • 2. Magdeburg – to quarter-finals
  • 3. Veszprém – to play-offs, play Szeged (No. 6 from group A)
  • 4. Dinamo OR GOG – to play-offs, play Aalborg (No. 5 from group A)
  • 5. GOG OR Dinamo – to play-offs, play Kiel (No. 4 from group A)
  • 6. Zagreb OR Plock – to play-offs, play Nantes (No. 3 from group A)
  • 7. Plock OR Zagreb – out
  • 8. Porto – out


Some key stats of the MOTW in one visual:


Let's hear from goalkeeper Jannick Green, named Player of the Match after PSG's come-from-behind victory against Veszprém:

20230103 CLM R14 Live Blog Quote 2
We wanted to win today, even though it didn't matter for us in the group. But we wanted to win because that is good for the self-confidence, good for the team. That's why we were frustrated after the first half. We can be very happy with our performance.
Jannick Green
Paris Saint-Germain HB goalkeeper

22:23 RESULT | GOG vs Zagreb 33:29 (20:12)

Zagreb mount a comeback in the second half, but despite Timur Dibirov's eight goals, it is not enough... They must now wait and hope that Plock do not beat Porto tomorrow.

And GOG will finish fourth as long as Dinamo do not beat Magdeburg. 

22:14 RESULT | MOTW PSG vs Veszprém 37:35 (19:24)

Well done to PSG! Already confirmed as group A winners, they dig deep in the MOTW to turn a big deficit against Veszprém into a two-goal victory.

That result sends Veszprém into the play-offs as the third-ranked team from group A... and Magdeburg into the quarter-finals! Even if they lose to Dinamo tomorrow, Magdeburg will finish second thanks to leading the head-to-head comparison with Veszprém.


Team timeout PSG. They are 34:32 up in this MOTW, can they hold on to it in the last seven minutes?


PSG complete their turnaround in the MOTW: from 22:26 to 31:28 within 12 minutes. They have really come out of the dressing room as a different team!


Oh, what a big finish this from a big player! And, what a recovery: PSG are now back level with Veszprém in MOTW: 28:28!


Earlier tonight Nantes locked up third spot in group B in a thrilling way: they dropped a point in Szeged, but so did Kiel in Elverum.

Former Szeged player Jorge Maqueda was happy to see his Nantes finish third: 

20230103 CLM R14 Live Blog Quote 1
It was a special feeling to come back to Szeged, I am grateful that I had a chance to play in this team in the past. However, my feelings had no place on the court today as I had to give everything for the success of Nantes. We can be happy with the draw and also with our third place in the group.
Jorge Maqueda
HBC Nantes right back

21:29 HALF-TIME | MOTW PSG vs Veszprém 19:24

Veszprém are doing everything to keep their hopes for second place alive! They take advantage of too many openings in the PSG defence to build a healthy five-goal lead. Remember, if Veszprém win, they must still hope for Magdeburg to drop at least a point against Dinamo on Thursday.

21:24 HALF-TIME | GOG vs Zagreb 20:12

GOG going all in today! Five goals from Simon Pytlick help them build a substantial lead over Zagreb. If they hold on to this and win, they are close to finishing fourth.


Manuel 'The Dolphin' Strlek:


Elsewhere, GOG and Zagreb have a close battle in Denmark. The match will not only affect the final standings of group A, but also Zagreb's chances to make it to the play-offs at all:

Zagreb finish sixth and Plock finish seventh if:
- Zagreb do not lose against GOG;
- OR Zagreb lose against GOG AND Plock do not beat Porto.

If Zagreb lose, they have to wait another 24 hours to find out whether they are still in the competition, as Plock visit Porto on Thursday at 20:45 CET.


The big man of the MOTW so far: Veszprém left wing Manuel Strlek nets five times from five attempts in just over 11 minutes.


What a start for Veszprém in this MOTW! Four goals from Manuel Strlek give them an early five-goal lead over PSG in Paris: 9:4.


No time to waste after that thrilling ending to the group B matches, as we are about to throw off the MOTW between PSG and Veszprém, as well as GOG against Zagreb.

To sum it up: PSG are first, no matter what. Veszprém can finish second but will have to wait until the Magdeburg result Thursday to be sure:

Veszprém finish second and Magdeburg finish third if:
- Veszprém beat PSG AND Magdeburg do not beat Dinamo;
- OR Veszprém draw with PSG AND Magdeburg lose against Dinamo.


Here are the final standings of group B (since Kielce vs Barça tomorrow won't affect the order):

  • 1. Barça – to quarter-finals
  • 2. Kielce – to quarter-finals
  • 3. Nantes – to play-offs, play No. 6 from group A
  • 4. Kiel – to play-offs, play No. 5 from group A
  • 5. Aalborg – to play-offs, play No. 4 from group A
  • 6. Szeged – to play-offs, play No. 3 from group A
  • 7. Celje – out
  • 8. Elverum – out

20:20 RESULT | Szeged vs Nantes 28:28 (13:15)

Oh-là-là, what a conclusion! Nantes drop a point in the closing seconds... but have been helped by Elverum snatching that point from Kiel, so Nantes still finish third.

20:16 RESULT | Elverum vs Kiel 26:26 (11:12)

Crazy scenes in Norway and well done Elverum! Playing for their honour, they hold the mighty Kiel to a draw (and were even leading by two goals with seven minutes left), which means the German side will most likely miss third place and finish fourth...

20:13 RESULT | Celje vs Aalborg 31:34 (15:19)

Congrats Aalborg! Their win in Celje hands them fifth place in group B, which automatically means that Szeged are ending up in sixth position. Aron Pálmarsson with 10 goals the outstanding shooter for Aalborg tonight.

The Danish side will meet the fourth-place team from group A in the play-offs: Dinamo or GOG. 


Well well, Nantes are four goals up... wait a few minutes... and we are all level again in Szeged, 26:26. What a thrilling ending to group B!


Scoring like this against the club he will join this summer, Celje's Aleks Vlah shows Aalborg why they have bought him:


Nantes open a four-goal lead in Szeged: Pedro Portela nets for 24:20 after 16 minutes into the second half. Is that the decision in the race to third place? Any win will do for Nantes...


Kiel are eying third place, but Elverum could become a stumbling block tonight, most notably goalkeeper Emil Imsgard:

19:26 HALF-TIME | Szeged vs Nantes 13:15

A close fight in Hungary, where Nantes are trying to secure third place in group B with a win. Led by four goals from Rok Ovnicek, they are two ahead at half-time – but nothing secured yet...

19:23 HALF-TIME | Celje vs Aalborg 15:19

Only needing a draw, Aalborg quickly went up by four goals and retained that margin until the break. Aron Pálmarsson with six and Kristian Björnsen with five the leading scorers for the Danish side, which looks bound to finish in fifth position.

19:20 HALF-TIME | Elverum vs Kiel 11:12

Elverum might be out but they are giving no presents to Kiel. Backed by a loud crowd, they nearly earned a 11:11 half-time score, until Niclas Ekberg netted from the right wing in the last second. All to play for after the break!


Looks like Aalborg have already switched on their gallery-play mode:


In Norway, Kiel are playing already eliminated Elverum. In order to finish third in group B, Kiel need more points than Nantes get in Hungary against Szeged.

At the moment, Kiel lead 9:6 while Nantes are stuck at 10:10.


OK, Aalborg might have taken a runaway lead in Slovenia (currently 11:7), the standout goal so far was scored by hosts Celje:


After the opening 10 minutes in our three games running at the time, Aalborg have taken a huge four-goal lead over Celje (8:4), with the other two matches very much still in the balance.

Remember, Aalborg 'just' need a draw to lock up fifth place in group B, which would send Szeged into sixth position, no matter the result of their game against Nantes.


Lets go! Tune in to EHFTV to see Aron Pálmarsson and all the other stars LIVE in the three group B matches starting at 18:45 CET. (Be aware geo-restrictions may apply, depending on your location.)


Here is what is at stake in Slovenia, Norway, and Hungary for the first three matches in this round 14: Nantes and Kiel battle for third (and fourth) place, Aalborg and Szeged for fifth (and sixth) place in group B.

That means the final standings in group B will already be known after this first batch of matches, since the Kielce vs Barça clash tomorrow will not affect the finishing position for any of the clubs.

Nantes finish third and Kiel finish fourth if:
- Nantes beat Szeged;
- OR Nantes draw with Szeged AND Kiel do not beat Elverum;
- OR Nantes lose against Szeged AND Kiel lose against Elverum.

Kiel finish third and Nantes finish fourth if:
- Kiel beat Elverum AND Nantes do not beat Szeged;
- OR Kiel draw with Elverum AND Nantes lose against Szeged.

Aalborg finish fifth and Szeged finish sixth if:
- Aalborg do not lose against Celje;
- OR Aalborg lose against Celje AND Szeged do not beat Nantes.

Szeged finish fifth and Aalborg finish sixth if Szeged beat Nantes AND Aalborg lose against Celje.


In case you missed it earlier, here is the Timeout with Champions ahead of the MOTW between PSG and Veszprém, tonight at 20:45 CET. This time, Markus chatted with PSG's Luka Karabatic and Veszprém's Rodrigo Corrales about...

... well, just listen into it!


It is all about group B when we throw off round 14 in about 50 minutes' time. We have Celje vs Aalborg Nantes, Elverum vs Kiel, and Szeged vs Nantes to start with.

And while Celje and Elverum know their European campaigns are over after tonight, the other four teams all play to get the most favourable finishing position in the group with regard of the possible opponents in the play-offs!  


Some more info on the PSG vs Veszprém clash in MOTW tonight:

  • PSG suffered one of their two group phase defeats in the season opener in Veszprém (36:34) in September.
  • Their second defeat came in a home match – against Magdeburg (37:33) in round 10 in December.
  • Veszprém have not won any of their three CL away matches since 3 November 2022; they lost to HC PPD Zagreb, drew with Dinamo, and lost to Magdeburg.
  • The head-to-head comparison is very balanced: both PSG and Veszprém won seven of their previous 15 duels, with one draw.
  • However, Veszprém have won the last three duels.
  • PSG have played at the EHF FINAL4 five times and Veszprém seven times, but both are yet to win the CL.

Just back from injury, PSG's Dominik Mathe is looking forward to "this very special MOTW" in which he faces some of his Hungarian national teammates at Veszprém, as he tells EHF journalist Kevin Domas.


The MOTW, tonight at 20:45 CEST, will see two contenders for the TruckScout24 EHF FINAL4 2023 go head-to-head in Paris: PSG and Veszprém.

While PSG are guaranteed to finish first, Veszprém are still in the running to take second place (and a direct spot in the quarter-finals). But even if they win the MOTW, Veszprém will have to wait until Thursday and the result of Magdeburg vs Dinamo to know if they finish second or third. The calculations are simple: Veszprém need more points from PSG than Magdeburg get from Dinamo.

Here are how both goalkeepers are stacking up against each other: Yannick Green (who, before joining PSG in the summer of 2022, played eight seasons for Magdeburg) and Rodrigo Corrales (who played three seasons for PSG before his move to Hungary in 2020).


The last round of a group phase is what you could truly call crunch time. Which teams and which players step up the best when things get tight and nervy?

Our data analyst and journalist Julian Rux dived into this question and has come up with this great work, revealing the real crunch-time kings of handball!


In seven of the eight games in round 14, at least one team has still something at stake, whether qualification for the quarter-final (Magdeburg and Veszprém) or for the play-offs (Zagreb or Plock), or their final position in the group.

The only exception is still a match you don't want to miss: Kielce vs Barça, the duel between the top-two teams from group B which have their final ranking already confirmed: Barça first, Kielce second.

For all the rest, read the round preview and the detailed who-needs-what calculations:


Round 14 wraps up the group phase, so let's have a look at the current standings.

From the final standings after Thursday's play, the teams ranked first and second advance directly to the quarter-finals, the teams ranked third through sixth proceed to the play-offs, and the teams ranked seventh and eighth are out:


Good afternoon and welcome to the live blog for the last eight matches in the Machineseeker EHF Champions League 2022/23 group phase!

Just three hours left until round 14 throws off. This last round will bring us the final decisions in both groups. And while 'only' one quarter-final and one play-off ticket might be still open, there is a lot more to play for tonight and tomorrow. The final standings in the group will also determine the pairings for the play-offs.

First, let's have a look at our full playing schedule:

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