Nos. 1 and 2 meet in both groups; Aalborg host Kolstad in MOTW
Round 6 of the Machineseeker EHF Champions League 2023/24 group phase sees the top two teams in both groups go head-to-head on Thursday: Paris Saint-Germain Handball against THW Kiel in group A, and Barça against Telekom Veszprém HC in group B.
The appealing midweek schedule starts with a Nordic duel in the Match of the Week between Aalborg Håndbold and Kolstad Handball on Wednesday, and also includes a matchup between two multiple EHF Champions League winners: Montpellier HB and SC Magdeburg.
Kolstad have a lot of good, experienced players – not least (Sander) Sagosen, who we always enjoy welcoming back to his old home. We can take a lot of good things with us from the game in Paris, where I think we played 50 good minutes and proved that we can beat anyone.
In Aalborg, we will face one of the favourites to reach the EHF FINAL4. A team full of world-class players in all positions and a great width in the squad. We go to the task with respect and a great hunger to make a good performance.
We are facing a great team like Industria Kielce, who have been playing in the same system for years and whose goal always is the EHF FINAL4. I said before the start of the season that in fourteen games, we will surprise someone. Maybe this match against Kielce will be the one. We respect them, whatever players they come with, they are very strong. They have a system and the system is their strongest asset.
We are going away very focused, counting on winning very important points. About injuries, we are Industria Kielce and we will not cry. We hope that Igor Karacić will help us. We will fight no matter what. We all know that North Macedonia is tough terrain because of the fans' support. However, we can cope with pressure. For us, the louder the cheering, the greater the motivation.
We always had very big respect for Zagreb – we especially have it this season. They are coming after three games without defeat, for sure with a lot of confidence and a good atmosphere in the locker room. I was there 10 years, and I know that coach changes were always bringing positives to the team, so it will be the same now. But we are not running away from the fact that at our arena, we are the favourites.
It will be the big clash of the moment in the group. It is a decisive match in terms of the standings, as it would allow us to consolidate our place among the top two teams in the group. But also mentally, as we have to beat THW. We are coming off a match against Aalborg where we were able to stay calm and draw on our experience to win in the closing minutes. We will have to play better against Kiel, that is for sure, but that kind of attitude can help us move forward.
Everyone knows what it means to play against this world-class team in Paris. You are not a favourite there as an away team. That is why we are going to Paris without any pressure, but with the great will to play a good game and take something countable with us.
The upcoming meeting that we are play in front of our fans is an especially important match. Without any doubt it will be difficult as we compete with a team that plays fast handball and fights until the end in all the duels. We hope that with the support of our fans we will achieve our first victory in EHF Champions League and in this way, we will start a new period in this competition.
At the moment, both teams have zero points, but Wisla have a lot of quality and experience in their roster. We have problems with injuries – we lost our captain Žiga Mlakar until the new year – so we will add another player from our academy. We have enough time for preparation and we will try to find the best solutions to surprise Wisla.
It is one of the best matches in Europe. Being able to play it at home with our fans is important. We can enjoy a great match. Veszprém are a very tough team, one of the greats in Europe. (Ludovic) Fabregas was a very important player at our club and we all have very fond memories of him. I hope our fans receive him as he deserves.
I believe we are continually improving, and our team has strength, which is excellent. I think I can be very satisfied with our match against Plock. Our defence was very tough, and the goalkeepers also performed well. If we can stop Barça's attacks with similar effort and this defence, which I believe is one of the best in Europe, we can be successful.