Vardar will profit from the MOTW in NantesArticle
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GROUP A/B PREVIEW: Vardar's nearest rivals in Group A go head-to-head while Veszprém host the duel of the disappointed.

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Vardar will profit from the MOTW in Nantes

Six group A/B matches are still to be played in 2017. The group leaders can make huge steps towards making the Last16, as their nearest rivals face off against other.

The MATCH OF THE WEEK takes place in the XXL Arena in Nantes, where the hosts want to keep their unbeaten record against Barcelona.

  • Vardar can increase the gap at the top of Group A to four points.
  • Several former teammates face off in the MOTW in Nantes
  • Veszprém host a rematch of the historic 2016 final
  • All previous Brest vs Celje fixtures have ended with a draw.

Group A

HC Vardar (MKD) vs IFK Kristianstad (SWE)
Saturday 02 December, 17:30 hrs local time, live on

The defending VELUX EHF champions have five consecutive wins against the Swedish champions. The reverse fixture saw a 26:23 in favour of Vadar, who are still the only unbeaten team of this season's VELUX EHF Champions League.

The hosts gained huge confidence from their win against Szeged last weekend. The surprising Zagreb victory against Löwen in the opener of round 10 is significant for the Lindgren team, who are two points ahead of the Croatian side.

On the other hand, Vardar – after their lucky draw at Mannheim – profited from the Löwen defeat. As Barcelona and Nantes face each other, with a win against Kristianstad the Champions league champions can remove at least one more opponent in the race for the top position.

In the best case scenario for Vardar, the gap to second place would grow to four points.

MOTW: HBC Nantes (FRA) vs. FC Barcelona Lassa (ESP)
Saturday 02 December, 20:45 hrs local time, live on

There are three former Barcelona players in the Nates squad, and one former Nantes player in the team of Barcelona: The Match of the Week will be a very special one for Barca's Valero Rivera and Kiril Lazarow, Eduardo Gurbindo and David Balaguer of Nantes.

It is just the second time the sides have ever met, with Barcelona winning the first game 31:25. Surprisingly Nantes are ahead of Barcelona by one point. The statistics are also favourable for HBC, as they are still unbeaten on home ground in the current Champions League season and in total have only lost one of 12 home matches in this competition.

Barcelona on the other have a balanced away form of two defeats, two wins and a draw, and if the Catalans win they would pass the hosts in the ranking.

Kiril Lazarov, who won his only Champions League title with Barcelona in 2015, will want to impress, while Barcelona's Victor Tomas will be motivated to show, who is the best Spanish right back as he goes up against Nantes’ David Balaguer.

Additionally, two former Kiel Champions league winners will lock horns - Dominik Klein and Aron Palmarsson.

Also in Group A this weekend:

MOL-Pick Szeged (HUN) vs. Orlen Wisla Plock (POL)
Saturday 02 December, 16:00 hrs. local time, live on

Group B

Telekom Veszprém HC (HUN) vs PGE Vive Kielce (POL)
Saturday 02 December, 18:00 hrs local time, live on

It is the duel of the disappointed, as both sides have already lost more points than they would like. After losing three matches in a row, Veszprém are already five points below PSG and for Kielce the gap is eight – normally impossible to bridge.

The previous game between these two was a thrilling draw, when Kielce let the victory slips from their hands after having a clear lead. The previous duel between the two made handball history, when Kielce turned an eight-goal deficit into a VELUX EHF Champions League title thanks to a penalty shoot-out victory in the 2016 final.

The match will be a special one for those Hungarian national team players in the Veszprém squad, who were coached by Kielce’s Talant Dujshebaev when he was their national team coach.

Except the 29:24 against PSG, Veszprém have won all home matches so far, while Kielce’s away form is quite weak with only one win (at Aalborg) and three defeats. Another defeat could even put pressure on the Poles in terms of making it to the Last16.

HC Meshkov Brest (BLR) vs RK Celje Pivovarna Lasko (SLO)
Saturday 02 December, 18:15 hrs local time, live on

After Aalborg’s sensational win against Veszprém, the three contenders for the crucial sixth position are even closer together. The Danes are on four points, with Brest and Celje on five.

Both sides faced a series of matches against German teams in the last weeks - Brest lost all four of them against Kiel and Flensburg, while Celje’s outcome was a little bit better thanks to the away victory at Kiel. Since the 33:33 draw in the first game between the two teams, on 14 October, Brest have not won a single point.

But if you want to bet, you should put your money on a draw, as all three Champions League duels between Brest and Celje have ended with a tie.

Also in Group B this weekend:

Paris Saint-Germain Handball (FRA ) vs Aalborg Handbold (DEN)

Saturday 02 December, 17:30 hrs local time, live on

TEXT: Björn Pazen / ap