Summary: Barça win MOTW vs Veszprém; Szeged end Meshkov's play-off chance
The EHF Champions League Men 2021/22 group phase continued with round 12, highlighted by the Match of the Week between Barça and Telekom Veszprém HC on Thursday.
- round 12 of the EHF Champions League Men 2021/22 group phase
- in the MOTW, Barça defeat Veszprém 35:30 to stay in second on the group B table while the Hungarian side fall a place
- also in group B, Dinamo Bucuresti beat Porto 32:31 in a thriller, PSG win vs Flensburg 33:30 and Kielce defeat Motor 33:26
- in group A, Szeged win 28:26 against Brest, Kiel overthrow Montpellier 35:26, Vardar beat Zagreb 20:19, and Aalborg defeat Elverum 32:27
That brings us to the end of a big two days of round 12 action, and a big two days of live blog coverage!
As we farewell the round, read all about what happened on this second day of matches in the reviews below.
What a round! Round 12 brought us plenty of thrills and it's only going to keep getting better in this business end of the group phase.
See all the results of the round below.
Thanks for this great fight tonight, as the first leg in Germany. I think we play good in 5-1 defensively. We were good on our fast breaks too. We got more problems in the second half and Flensburg fought until the end. We remained calm at the end and particularly during the last five minutes of the game. We have to keep this spirit and this state of mind. It’s important to have this type of experience for the future.
22:19 RESULT | FC PORTO VS DINAMO BUCURESTI 31:32
Right to the wire at Porto! Valentin Ghionea nets the winning goal for Dinamo with 21 seconds on the clock, leaving Porto reeling after a tense battle to the final buzzer. With the win, Bucharest join Porto on eight points on the group B table and keep their chance of climbing the table right into the play-offs alive.
22:16 RESULT | PSG VS SG FLENSBURG-HANDEWITT 33:30
Flensburg come very close in the end but PSG net the last two goals to seal the deal in their favour. The French team move up to 14 points with the victory — and leapfrog Veszprém in the process. Meanwhile, Flensburg end the round with nine points.
22:13 RESULT | PICK SZEGED VS MESHKOV BREST 28:26
Szeged collect an important two points that see them pull level with Montpellier on a total of 16 now, thereby remaining among the group frontrunners. On the other hand, Meshkov have the unenviable position of being the first team to farewell their play-off dream, as the Belarusian team can now no longer reach the play-offs.
Brest sit bottom of group A with four points — four below Zagreb and Elverum. With two rounds left, Meshkov could still level with their two rivals on points, but Zagreb and Elverum would both rank above Brest in a three-way tie.
Five minutes remain in Porto and this is where it's at, as we have a game looking to be on its way to a very late decision. The teams are yet again on equal footing, 29:29, as crunch time begins.
But Porto and Dinamo are not alone on the edges of their seats — Flensburg have shocked PSG with a 5:2 run that sees them within one goal, 31:30, with just over two minutes left.
Hard to watch the world-class back court show over at PSG vs Flensburg without being reminded of how much we enjoyed the performances of some of these individuals at the EHF EURO 2022.
For the French team, EURO All-star Team members Mikkel Hansen and Luc Steins are playing great games, with seven goals from Steins and seven assists, while Hansen has netted three and also recorded seven assists.
And who should outclass them both in the playmaking department but EURO MVP Jim Gottfridsson? Flensburg's centre back has dished out 11 assists tonight.
With 10 minutes on the clock, PSG stay in command at 29:25.
PSG and Szeged remain in front of their opponents as the clocks in their respective arenas tick on, although Szeged only have the slightest advantage, 23:22, with 15 minutes to go in Hungary. In Paris, the French side are benefitting from taking the lead early in the match, holding their advantage at 26:22 with 13 minutes left.
Meanwhile, a thriller continues to unfold in Portugal, where Dinamo have reclaimed the lead at 22:20 in the 43rd minute.
21:28 HALF-TIME | FC PORTO VS DINAMO BUCURESTI 12:12
Dinamo had a distance of four goals in their favour more than once in the first half, but Porto fought back and levelled the game — and perhaps even grabbed the momentum as they finished the period stronger than their visitors.
21:24 HALF-TIME | PSG VS SG FLENSBURG-HANDEWITT 17:13
Flensburg never had the upper hand as PSG dominated the opening half, leading as clear as six goals inside the last two minutes of the period. It was a crucial two goals scored by Flensburg after that, as they closed the gap and kept the task for the second half more manageable. Can the German side turn this around?
21:23 HALF-TIME | PICK SZEGED VS MESHKOV BREST 16:14
A strong end to the first half, powered by three goals from line player Bence Bahidi in the last five minutes, sees the Hungarian side go to the break with a two-goal gap in their favour.
15 minutes of game time later and the only real change is at Szeged, where Pick have fought back and we now have a level match, 13:13. In Paris, PSG are confidently ahead of Flensburg, 15:11, and in Porto, Dinamo maintain their advantage, at 10:8.
The points up for grabs in Portugal are among the most important being decided in these last round 12 matches, as Porto and Dinamo are both ranked outside the top six — but still have the chance to climb the table and reach the play-offs.
It will be an interesting outcome if Dinamo go home to Bucharest with the points, after Porto won the reverse fixture in Romania.
10-minute update from three courts — where only one home side has the upper hand at present: PSG. PSG have a two-goal edge over Flensburg, at 6:4, while Szeged and Porto are both trailing their opponents. In Hungary, Meshkov Brest have a 7:5 advantage. In Portugal, Dinamo Bucuresti lead 5:2.
While the goalkeepers shone early in the MOTW, only one team is having such a performance between the posts in the three live matches — Dinamo, where Khalifa Ghedbane is on fire with three early saves.
Before we completely switch focus to the last three matches of the round, let's have a closer look at how Barça defeated Veszprém in the MOTW — according to the stats.
For his role in Barça's goal, Gonzalo Perez de Vargas received the Player of the Match award.
Round 12 is soon to come to a close with three more clashes coming your way to wrap it up.
Less than 15 minutes until these battles throw off:
- 20:45 CET Szeged vs Meshkov Brest
- 20:45 CET FC Porto vs CS Dinamo Bucuresti
- 20:45 CET PSG vs SG Flensburg-Handewitt
Catch the action live on EHFTV.
The first half, Gonzalo [Perez de Vargas] was amazing and kept us in the match. Our mistake in the first half was that we missed seven goals. In the second half both goalkeepers weren’t at the same level but we improved our defence.
20:15 RESULT | MOTW BARÇA VS VESZPRÉM 35:30
A tight battle turned into a strong win for Barça. The Spanish powerhouse move up to 16 points on the table, while Veszprém remain on 13.
Celebration mode on for the defending title holders.
Less than six minutes to go and the two points have slipped further from Veszprém's grasp, as Barça lead 31:25.
Individually, it's still Gonzalo Perez de Vargas and Yahia Omar who are standing out for their teams. In Barça's goal, Perez de Vargas maintains a save rate near 40 per cent (39 to be precise) with a total of 16 shots stopped, while Omar has now netted six for the Hungarian side as well as made two assists.
But Omar has been passed on the score board by his rival right back, Dika Mem, who has notched up seven goals. And those seven goals have been enough to see Mem reclaim a clear first position in the season's top scorer race. He now sits on a total of 73 for the season — six ahead of Elverum's Tobias Grøndahl.
Inside the last quarter of the MOTW now and Barça are steadily in front, 23:21. Are they on their way to victory?
Should Barça clinch the win, it will be the 13th loss for Veszprém on the Spanish side's court. But there is something far more pressing than the historical record, and that is the current group standings.
A victory for Barça will see them move up to 16 points and leave the possibility for Veszprém to fall to fourth, if PSG defeat Flensburg later on Thursday night. It could therefore be a very costly loss for the Hungarian team.
On the other hand, if Veszprém come back and take the points, they will climb into second place, passing Barça.
10 minutes into the second period and Barça have a narrow upper hand, leading 20:19.
We're seeing an interesting tactics battle, with Barça attempting 5-1 defence only for Veszprém to answer with seven-against-six that forces the home side to drop back. Nevertheless, Barça are winning the chess game — for now.
We're almost set for the second half of the MOTW to begin. If Veszprém can secure the win, they will be the second team to do so in Palau Blaugrana this season — and that is no normal feat.
Barça had a six-year unbeaten record on their home court prior to the 2021/22 season — or more precisely, prior to their first match against Kielce in the 2021/22 group phase, when the Polish side caused a huge upset and won 32:30 in Barcelona in November.
Can Veszprém follow Kielce's example and make it two from two games versus the Spanish powerhouse this group phase?
With both teams recording very similar — and low — shot efficiencies, it is very clear this MOTW is all about the goalkeepers. But Barça's Gonzalo Perez de Vargas wins that battle for the first half in the end, with a save rate of 48 per cent and 12 shots stopped.
The top scorer of the first half is on Veszprém's side, as Yahia Omar ends the period with four strikes and just one missed.
Here's what EHF journalist Björn Pazen has to say about the clash:
"What a crazy MOTW. First, both goalkeepers stand like walls, then Barça give their quite comfortable-looking lead from their hands as Veszprém increase their efficiency in attack, and finally both sides focus more on attack then defence. The top duel of round 12 is a highlight to watch, combining individual class with fight and tension. The 13:13 is a deserved result — and appetising for the second half."
19:22 HALF-TIME | MOTW BARÇA VS VESZPRÉM 13:13
What a first 30 minutes in the Match of the Week! Both sides took their turns with leads of more than one goal, but in the end we go to the break with the score all level at 13:13
A huge turnaround from Veszprém! Four unanswered goals in little over two minutes see the Hungarian team turn the 7:5 lead for Barça into 7:9, prompting a timeout from the Spanish side.
Both Gonzalo Perez de Vargas and Rodrigo Corrales are keeping their save rates above 40 per cent, while in the individual scoring race it's Veszprém's Yahia Omar and Manuel Strlek who lead with three goals apiece.
Almost one quarter of the MOTW played and the goalkeepers are really stealing the show here. Barça are now in front 7:5, as Gonzalo Perez de Vargas racks up seven saves at 58 per cent for the home side while Rodrigo Corrales tallies five at 42 per cent.
Almost nine minutes played in the MOTW and we have a very competitive game on our hands so far, with the score level at 4:4 — and everything else pretty equal too. Both teams have a shooting percentage of 57 per cent and enjoyed stellar openings in goal, with Barça's Gonzalo Perez de Vargas just outsaving his Spain teammate Rodrigo Corrales in Veszprém's goal.
All great photos of the pre-warmup chats, but this one of Veszprém sports director Laszlo Nagy is pretty special. The former right back played for Barcelona for 12 years and won the Champions League title twice with the club, along with numerous domestic trophies.
Reunions galore before the MOTW, as Veszprém and Barça take the court to start warmup. Check out the photos below!
We expect an extremely hard game. We won against them [Barça] at home so they are prepared for us. They were the champions last year — a team with huge quality and high confidence, so to win we have to be really good that night. We are ready from now and prepared for everything,
Starting whistle on the MOTW in just over 30 minutes!
Face of the EHF Champions League Markus Floth had a chat with Barça's Ali Zein and Veszprém's Rasmus Lauge before the big clash, as part of the Timeout with Champions series by Gorenje. Check it out on Instagram.
Less than two hours remain until throw-off in the MOTW! Check out the highlights of the season's first match between Veszprém and Barça below.
Let's take a closer look at the PSG vs Flensburg duel. When the teams met in the reverse fixture in Germany, the game ended in a 27:27 draw.
For PSG, it is the first Champions League match in 2022, following postponement of their match against Motor in round 11.
PSG line player Kamil Syprzak said, "we expect big support from our fans to welcome the Champions League back to Coubertin," and the French side will surely be hoping that support will help them to victory.
But can PSG's fortress hold off Flensburg? The German team were the last side to take the points on PSG's court, in September 2020.
The third game starting at 20:45 CET comes from group A: Szeged vs Meshkov Brest. Both teams enter tonight's match on the back of losses — Brest lost to Aalborg while Szeged were defeated by Zagreb.
Meshkov are fighting for important points to stay alive in the competition, taking the court as the bottom-ranked team in the group, after just one win and two draws in the group phase.
It will be a tough fight for the Belarusian team in Hungary, as Brest have the historical record versus Szeged against them. Szeged have won seven out of nine previous matches, including a 28:25 victory at Meshkov in the reverse fixture.
Two other group B games will be played tonight, with PSG vs Flensburg and Porto vs Dinamo Bucuresti throwing off at 20:45 CET.
Fourth-ranked PSG are the top-placed of these sides, with 12 points and one game in hand. The remaining three teams are in a precarious position with two rounds left to play, as Porto and Dinamo round out the table in the two lowest positions, while Flensburg are narrowly in fifth place — only one point separates the German team from the Motor in sixth and Porto in seventh.
With survival in the competition at stake for all, these two encounters are sure to provide plenty of thrills.
Tonight's action opens with the Match of the Week, Barça vs Veszprém.
The last clash between these titans was a memorable one, as Veszprém ended Barça's run of 29 group phase wins by taking a 29:28 win in Hungary. The title holders have become a little more familiar with group phase losses since then, having been defeated twice by group leaders Kielce. Barça also drew with Porto in Portugal.
While Barça won their first game back in 2022, Veszprém drew in round 12 — also versus Porto. Veszprém's last win was in round 9 at the start of December against CS Dinamo Bucuresti.
So the two teams are among the group B frontrunners, entering tonight's game in second (Barça) and third (Veszprém). But as Veszprém back Yahia Omar told eurohandball.com, it has been a somewhat rocky season: "The season was full of ups and downs — probably one of the hardest groups in Champions League history in terms of competition."
Read the MOTW feature with Omar below!
Welcome to the second day of live blog coverage of round 12! Courtney Gahan here to guide you through the four matches coming your way tonight.
- 18:45 CET: MOTW Barça vs Veszprém
- 20:45 CET Szeged vs Meshkov Brest
- 20:45 CET FC Porto vs CS Dinamo Bucuresti
- 20:45 CET PSG vs SG Flensburg-Handewitt
Here ends our coverage of the opening night of round 12. It was an enjoyable evening with those four games, and the best thing is... we have more excitement coming up tomorrow, with four more games including an all-time classic as the Match of the Week: Barça against Veszprém.
So, I am sure you will be back here tomorrow evening! For now, have a good night but first flip through the best pictures from tonight's matches:
Some had written off Vardar for this season after their terrible run with seven straight defeats before the winter break. But watch them now, two wins and the 2017 and 2019 champions are fully back in contention for the play-offs.
This is what head coach David Davis said after the narrow win in the Balkan derby against Zagreb:
The players were nervous, it was not nice to watch this duel. Everyone knew that this match was 'all or nothing.' This is an important victory for us, for the club, for everyone.
Read in depth what happened in each of the four games tonight in our match reviews:
So, that is round 12 halfway done. All four home teams book wins, three of them with almost identical results:
- Aalborg vs Elverum 32:27
- Kielce vs Motor 33:27
- Kiel vs Montpellier 35:26
- Vardar vs Zagreb 20:19
What do we learn from this?
Aalborg and Kielce extend their leads in groups A and B, respectively; Kiel climb to second place in A, overtaking Montpellier; and Vardar suddenly rank fifth, passing both Zagreb and Elverum tonight.
You find the updated standings here on eurohandball.com.
22:18 RESULT | VARDAR vs ZAGREB 20:19 (11:9)
Vardar led 20:17 with 150 seconds left on the clock, but this match was always going to be a close affair. Zagreb closed the gap to just one again - but had not enough time to go for the equaliser.
Vardar continue their strong start into 2022 and suddenly climb past Zagreb and Elverum into fifth place!
22:14 RESULT | KIEL vs MONTPELLIER 35:26 (19:13)
Big, big win for the 2020 champions. Kiel have been convincing from the start and never looked back once in the lead. Steffen Weinhold leads with five goals, four players follow with four goals each.
Former group leaders Montpellier start 2022 with back-to-back defeats and drop into third place. EHF journalist Björn Pazen says this was Montpellier's biggest defeat since their 37:27 loss against an other German side, Rhein-Neckar Löwen, in November 2018.
Team timeout Vardar: they lead Zagreb by two (20:18) in the closing minutes and coach David Davis knows what his players should do to keep it that way.
Over in Germany, Kiel are leading Montpellier by a double-digit figure (33:23) and will now overtake the French side in the standings into that all-important second place.
Terrific from Taleski:
The Balkan derby is going down to the wire. Vardar and Zagreb have swapped leads but are back at level terms: 16 all, with 10 minutes left.
Montpellier could have been further behind...:
21:23 HALF-TIME | KIEL vs MONTPELLIER 19:13
Montpellier couldn't lose for eight straight games before the winter break, but they seem heading for their second straight defeat after the 10-week pause. Kiel just too dominant, and with the far better shot efficiency: 70% vs 52%.
21:20 HALF-TIME | VARDAR vs ZAGREB 11:9
There had not been more than one goal in it until Vardar went from 5:6 to 9:6 in what was the crucial phase of the opening half. This is still anybody's game, obviously.
Kielce went two points clear on top of group A following their win over Motor earlier tonight. Here is what the coaching staff said after the match:
Judging by the course of the game, we were better in one crucial element – defence. We started very aggressively, our opponents made mistakes in attack what we could use in fast breaks. Coach Talant could juggle with the squad. We had a good rhythm and Motor had problems with following us.
Meanwhile, Jeremy Toto looks up and sees that his Vardar and Zagreb are all level after 14 minutes: 5:5.
Kiel have the better start and lead Montpellier by three goals after 10 minutes. If the German side win, they would leapfrog their opponents into second place.
It will be interesting to see how Vardar and Zagreb come out tonight, a week after they both landed spectacular wins: Vardar in Montpellier, Zagreb against Szeged. It adds even more spice to this Balkan derby, with both teams eager to strengthen their position ahead of the last two rounds, which will decide about their play-off fate.
The rest of the evening belongs to group A, with Kiel vs Montpellier and Vardar vs Zagreb. Two interesting matches, with different backgrounds.
Montpellier are under pressure in the battle for top spot after Aalborg have done their job earlier tonight. Can they take the points from the 2020 champions?
Vardar and Zagreb have whole other things on their mind: will they even make it into the play-offs?
20:16 RESULT | AALBORG vs ELVERUM 32:27 (14:13)
That is win No. 5 in a row for Aalborg - and defeat no. 6 in a row for Elverum. It looked like a close contest in the early stages but Aalborg just proved too strong. They now go two points clear on top of group A, with rivals Montpellier starting their match in Kiel in just under half an hour.
20:12 RESULT | KIELCE vs MOTOR 33:27 (19:13)
High fives in Kielce: the group B leaders have never been in trouble against Motor, quickly establishing a six-goal lead - that then lasted until the final buzzer. Nicolas Tournat with eight goals and Arkadiusz Moryto with seven the outstanding scorers.
Cool hip shot from Felix Claar this:
Kielce dominating against Motor but not all efforts go in...
Team timeout Motor. They have been outplayed by Kielce since the start of the match. It is 25:17 for the hosts with less than 18 minutes left on the clock. Can't see a turnaround happening here.
Aalborg seem in control now. They go 22:16 up and that early scare in the match has been forgotten.
19:24 HALF-TIME | KIELCE vs MOTOR 19:13
Commanding lead for the group B leaders who have quickly gone from 4:1 to 8:2 - while keeping that margin of six more or less throughout the first half. Nicolas Tournat with five and Arkadiusz Moryto with four the best scorers so far.
19:20 HALF-TIME | AALBORG vs ELVERUM 14:13
Aalborg edge in front in the closing minutes before the break, after a slow start to match. Elverum have been ahead by three at one point but need to start all over again in the second half.
OK, OK, Elverum can do in-flights, too!
You actually wanted to SEE that lovely in-flight from Aalborg I wrote about at 18:56? OK, here you go:
Kielce in overdrive early on:
Lovely in-flight from Nikolaj Læsø reduces Aalborg's early deficit against Elverum to just one: 5:4 after 10 minutes. The visitors from Norway look unaffected by their recent run of five losses and have gone 5:2 up early in the match.
Meanwhile, Kielce are cruising at home against Motor: 11:5.
So, we throw off in Aalborg and Kielce in 10 minutes' time. Remember you can watch all EHF Champions League matches live on EHFTV (though geo-blocking might apply due to regional broadcast rights) and you don't have to chose: with the multi-screen function you can watch up to four matches at the same time!
All agree that group B is one of the toughest groups the EHF Champions League has ever seen. Some call it the toughest group...
...so how must it feel for Kielce to be at least two points ahead of all those powerhouses: Barça, Veszprém, PSG... In Poland they might start dreaming about bigger things again, but hey, Talant Dujshebaev will make sure they go step-by-step.
And the next step is Motor: they beat the likes of Veszprém and Flensburg this season, but all points came in their own arena, as they have lost all their away matches so far. Can they break with that tradition in Kielce tonight?
Aalborg and Elverum are both from Scandinavia - but that is about where their comparison ends ahead of tonight's duel.
Group A leaders Aalborg are enjoying a four-match winning streak - including that 34:28 in Elverum just before the winter break - while Elverum have lost their last five matches and must be careful to even make the play-offs now.
Will the trends continue and do Aalborg add another win? Or are Elverum in for a surprise?
What a way to throw off this round 12: both group leaders are in action in the first time slot at 18:45 CET!
Aalborg overtook Montpellier at the top of group A last week and hope to strengthen their position in the Scandinavian derby against Elverum - knowing that Montpellier face a heavy trip to Kiel two hours later.
And Kielce are still proudly on top of group B, and they certainly expect to stay there for at least one more round with the home match against Motor coming up tonight. Even more so: the Nos. 2 and 3, Barça and Veszprém, will face each other in the MOTW on Thursday.
Here is our tasty round 12 menu:
Good afternoon and welcome to the live blog covering round 12!
We have eight matches coming up, evenly divided between Wednesday and Thursday. While Match of the Week with Barça and Telekom Veszprém HC is scheduled for tomorrow, there is a lot to look forward to tonight, as well.
Maybe best to start with our round preview with info on each match: