Seven teams head into round 3 unbeaten
Seven teams in the group phase of the Machineseeker EHF Champions League have started their season with the perfect two wins from two games. The four teams with back-to-back wins in group B will meet each other this week in round 3, which is highlighted by the Match of the Week between Industria Kielce and Paris Saint-Germain Handball on Wednesday at 18:45 CEST.
MOTW: Industria Kielce (POL) vs Paris Saint-Germain HB (FRA)
Wednesday 27 September, 18:45 CEST, live on EHFTV
- Kielce, last season’s runners-up, opened the season with one defeat (against Aalborg) and one win (Kolstad); PSG won both their matches (Szeged, Zagreb)
- two current Kielce players made their first professional debut at PSG: Benoit Kounkoud and Dylan Nahi
- the sides faced each other 12 times in the CL since 2016; PSG lead the head-to-head 7-5 but Kielce won both times they met at an EHF FINAL4, most recently last June
- the last seven duels between the two teams were all won by the hosts; the last team to get an away victory were PSG, winning 34:28 in Kielce in the CL 2017/18 quarter-finals
- both teams remain undefeated in their domestic league: Kielce defeated Piotrków (45:26) and PSG beat Créteil (35:27) last Sunday
It will be a big game against a big team. We are fully prepared for this and hope for good performance. We will play in front of our fans again and we want to achieve our first win at home this season in the EHF Champions League. For me, Nikola Karabatić is the best player of all time. This guy has won everything. I had the opportunity to play with him and
for me he is the best. This season is his last, so he will give his everything in every game. We have to be careful, because Paris has a lot of weapons. Every position is strong in this team. I think we have to play our handball and do our best. Especially stay focused on ourselves and be confident all the time. If we do that, we can beat anyone.
- Pelister are looking for their first points following defeats against Kolstad and Aalborg; Kiel gathered the maximum four points against Zagreb and Szeged
- French goalkeeper Vincent Gérard made his CL debut for Kiel last week
- Pelister have so far scored the fewest goals of all 16 group phase teams: 45
- the two sides have not played against each other in a European competition before
We have analysed Kiel's matches, they prefer modern handball and dynamic play. My team need to play patiently in attack and with that we will prevent their quick game. Eurofarm Pelister will only grow, we won two games from the Superleague and they were a good sign for us.
It will be a really heated atmosphere. We have to focus on our game and do what we set out to do. We shouldn't get too irritated by what's happening in the stands. After the two defeats Pelister is even more dangerous, they will try with all means to beat us. Pelister is a stumbling block for every team and we don't want to be the first to stumble over it.
OTP Bank - Pick Szeged (HUN) vs Aalborg Håndbold (DEN)
Wednesday 27 September, 18:45 CEST, live on EHFTV
- Aalborg lead group A after their wins in Kielce (34:31) and against Pelister (38:23); Szeged started with defeats against PSG (31:29) and in Kiel (35:32)
- Aalborg have scored 72 goals the first two rounds, more than any other team
- Szeged’s Mario Sostaric is the competition’s leading scorer with 17 goals
- the teams’ head-to-head stats after 10 duels are balanced: both Szeged and Aalborg won four times, and two duels ended in a draw
- both teams are coming off domestic wins: Szeged beat Veszprémi KKFT 34:26 in Hungary; Aalborg defeated Ringsted 36:30 in Denmark
We have to bring a lot of speed into the game, like we did against Pelister and Kielce, and really challenge them on that. And at the same time stand together in the defence, not giving away too many easy goals. Then I think we will take the two points with us back home.
- Zagreb lost their first two games of the season; debutants Kolstad started with a win at Pelister but lost last week, against Kielce
- Zagreb and Kolstad have never played against each other in a European competition
- Kolstad’s Adrian Aalberg and Gøran Johannessen have both netted 11 goals so far, once more than Zagreb’s best scorer Yoel Cuni Morales
- only one of the teams came out victorious of this weekend’s domestic league games: Zagreb won in Gorica (31:24), but Kolstad lost in Runar (36:30)
We've got a game against a top-class opponent coming up. Looking at their roster, you feel like you're playing the Norwegian national team - they have a really good roster that knows how to run the court extremely well. That is exactly one of the aspects of the game in which we'll have to perform much better than we did against PSG, if we want to achieve a good result in the end of course. They have a solid number of exceptional players like Sagosen, Bergerud and Johanessen, while Rod's injury appears to be a certain problem for them at this point. I feel like their rotation is, on the other hand, not as long and that is exactly where I see our chance in this game. As the game goes, their fatigue might end up playing an important factor, and that's when we'll try to capitalise.
SC Magdeburg (GER) vs RK Celje Pivovarna Laško (SLO)
Wednesday 27 September, 20:45 CEST, live on EHFTV
- this is a duel between two CL winners: Magdeburg in 2002 and 2023, Celje in 2004
- the last time the teams met was in the CL 2001/02 quarter-finals, when Magdeburg narrowly advanced on the way to their first title
- defending champions Magdeburg suffered two clear losses in their first two matches this season, against Veszprém (33:28) and Barça (32:20)
- Celje also lost twice, although narrowly: 36:34 against GOG, 30:29 against Porto
- Celje’s Mitja Janc is the fourth best scorer in the CL so far, with 15 goals; no team in group B scored less goals than Magdeburg: 48
"No question, we want to get our first points in the Champions League on Wednesday. Celje has a young talented team, but we hope for many spectators in GETEC Arena and two points."
SC Magdeburg is a top team, current European champion. Maybe they are in a bit of "points crisis", losing against Veszprem and Barcelona, so they will really need points against us. Overall, they are playing attractive handball, one of the most beautiful in Europe, so they will overturn their result curve. On us is to show again that our young team belongs between these giants. We were really close in first two matches to get points, but missing experience hit us hard. So will will work on that.
- Porto had two one-goal wins so far: 24:23 against Plock in round 1 and 30:29 at Celje last week, when line player Victor Iturriza scored the last four goals for his side
- with four points after two matches, Porto have already nearly matched their total of five points from the entire group phase last season
- Barça finally beat Magdeburg last week after three straight defeats against the German side, including the 2022/23 semi-final last June
- Barça line player Luis Frade played for Porto before
- the teams also met in 2021/22 group phase, when they had a draw in Portugal while Barça won the reverse fixture in Spain
It's going to be a great game on Thursday. I hope our hall is full and the fans are in for support. It's a special day, FC Porto's 130th anniversary and we hope to finish with a win. There's no small games in Machineseeker EHF Champions League, so we can hope to be good and better than Barcelona, at least we've working on that. We've been putting our hearts out everyday to be better every game!
All Champions League games are complicated and playing away from home even more. We have started on the right foot but each game is a story and we cannot relax.
They have four points, like us. In these two games there have been times in which they have been losing with a clear adverse score and they have been able to come back. That says a lot in their favour. We have to continue building our game based on defence, continue going out on the counterattack, being intelligent and also dominating the positional attack.
- both teams are on the maximum of four points; Morten Olsen netted 10 times to help GOG beat Plock, while Veszprém came from behind to beat Montpellier last week
- GOG coach Mikkel Voigt had a perfect debut after replacing Ian Marko Fog
- with 68 goals, GOG have the most-scoring attack in group B (overall, only Aalborg have scored more goals); Veszprém have netted 66 times
- when both teams also met last season, they each won the away game: GOG 37:36 in Veszprém; Veszprém 31:30 at GOG
- GOG took only their second win in round 5 of the Danish league this weekend (37:25 against Kolding); Veszprém did not play but remain leaders in the Hungarian league
We have had a really good start to this year's EHF Champions League with two wins in two matches, and we hope to continue that trend against Veszprem, even though they might be favourites on paper.
Last year we also met twice in the group stage, where both clubs won close matches away from home, and it is obvious that we hope to repeat or better the success this year.
Veszprem is well equipped in all places, but we are ready for the task, and I am convinced that the spectators in Odense - and in front of the TV - can look forward to a close match with watchable handball.
GOG have a very good team, there's no doubt about it, and they are one of the best when it comes to fast breaks. Of course, this requires good performance from their goalkeepers, which can give them a significant advantage. That's why it's vital for our attack to function well and for us to capitalize on most of our opportunities. In order to help ourselves to transition back, we need to score – it's that simple. We must minimize our mistakes. Capitalizing on mistakes and fast breaks are GOG's biggest strengths. We saw their match against Kolding and their two victories in the EHF Champions League, so we are facing a team that has been dominant and very confident so far. That's precisely why we need to take this match very seriously.
- both sides seek their first points: Montpellier lost to Barça and Veszprém; Plock went down in Porto and against GOG
- two Slovenian playmakers (Stas Skube/Montpellier and Miha Zarabec/Plock) and two experienced Bosnian players (Mirsad Terzic/Plock and Marko Panic/Montpellier) will face in this duel
- their only previous matches came in the CL 2013/14 qualification, when both won their home game but Plock advanced (29:27 in Montpellier, 28:33 in Plock)
- both teams has comprehensive wins in their domestic leagues Sunday: Plock defeated Gdansk 31:20; Montpellier beat Limoges 36:30
photo FC Porto © Peter Spark / PhotoReport.in
We have a lot of experience as a club in the Champions League but we have a young team with players who still have everything to prove in this competition. Our level at the moment is not good enough to compete with teams like Barcelona and Veszprém, but that doesn’t mean that we won’t be at their level in three months’ time.
This week we are playing against a historical club in the EHF Champions League that is Montpellier Handball. They showed in Veszprem what they are capable of by playing a fantastic match and almost winning it on the incredibly difficult terrain that is the Veszprém Aréna. We expect a tough encounter against such an experienced and great club, but we will try to do our best and get there our first points of the season.