Barça and Szeged aim for seventh wins, while Veszprém seek revengeArticle
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GROUP A/B PREVIEW: The competition in Group B is heating up with six teams within four points of each other, making for a big weekend of clashes with crucial points on the line
»2018-19 Men's News

Barça and Szeged aim for seventh wins, while Veszprém seek revenge

After PSG and Montpellier’s wins on Wednesday, the rest of the pack will meet on the VELUX EHF Champions League courts this weekend. For both Barça Lassa and MOL-Pick Szeged, the aim will be simple: snatch a seventh win in eight rounds. In doing so, the Spanish side could keep their place at the top of Group A, while Szeged could stay within reach of PSG, the leaders of Group B.

In Group A, Veszprém will seek revenge after losing the first leg in Kristianstad last Saturday. In Group B, where six teams are within four points of each other, it will be interesting to see if any can make a difference and take a step towards qualification for the Last 16.

MOTW: Barça Lassa (ESP) vs HC Vardar (MKD)
Saturday 17 November, 19:00 local time, live on

• The Spanish side have won the last six games on the trot. Their streak is only eclipsed by PSG, who have won all eight games in this season of the VELUX EHF Champions League
• This is still the battle between the most effective attack in the competition (234 goals scored by Barça, with 33.4 goals per game) and the most effective defence in Groups A and B (Vardar, with 185 goals allowed)
• In the season’s first game played between these sides, just last week, Vardar never held the lead on their home court. The Spanish side took a 30:26 commanding win
• The Macedonian team have only won twice in 14 games against their Spanish opponents, and have come away from all games played in Palau Blaugrana emptyhanded
• Barça are unbeaten in 24 consecutive games at home. Their last loss came in the 2015/16 season when Kielce won 33:31 in the group phase

Telekom Veszprém HC (HUN) vs IFK Kristianstad (SWE)
Saturday 17 November, 17:30 local time, live on

• After a 30:29 win against Montpellier, David Davis’ tenure as Veszprém’s head coach continued with two defeats against Löwen and Kristianstad
• If they lose again on Saturday, Veszprém will equal their worst-ever run of defeats in the VELUX EHF Champions League – a three-game streak which occurred twice in their history, in 1996 and 2017
• Kristianstad, who won the reverse fixture 32:29 last week, can equal their longest unbeaten run – once again a three-game streak; a record from the last season
• Four losses in the first seven games of the season represent Veszprém’s worst start ever in the premium European competition

PGE Vive Kielce (POL) vs HC Meshkov Brest (BLR)
Saturday 17 November, 18:00 local time, live on

• With Kristianstad and Montpellier earning their first wins of the season, Brest’s quest for a Last 16 berth is under challenge
• The Belarusian side lost their last five games in the competition after a winning start against Kristianstad and Montpellier
• Kielce’s left back Alex Dujshebaev tallies 45 goals this season and is only three goals shy of the top goal scorer of the competition, Cocks’ Nico Rönnberg
• The Polish side won six of the seven mutual meetings, including a 36:25 drubbing last week in Belarus

HBC Nantes (FRA) vs HC Motor Zaporozhye (UKR)
Sunday 18 November, 17:00 local time, live on

• After playing them three times, Zaporozhye remain the only team that Nantes have never been able to beat in the Champions League
• In the first leg in Ukraine last Sunday, the teams drew 30:30
• After seven rounds, Nantes are third in Group B with seven points, while Zaporozhye are last with three points
• The teams’ top scorers are tied with 36 goals apiece: Kiril Lazarov (Nantes) and Barys Pukhouski (Zaporozhye)

MOL-Pick Szeged (HUN) vs Skjern Handbold (DEN)
Sunday 18 November, 17:00 local time, live on

• Last Sunday, Szeged won 29:26 in Denmark, causing Skjern’s second home defeat of the Champions League season
• For the time being, Szeged are second in Group B with 12 points, while Skjern sit three spots below with five
• Szeged have not lost a home game since December 2, 2017, when they were defeated by Wisla Plock in a Champions League clash
• Both teams won their domestic games this week. Skjern took the points against Ribe-Esbjerg in the Danish league (23:20) while Szeged did the same against Gyöngyösi (39:29)

RK Celje Pivovarna Lasko (SLO) vs HC PPD Zagreb (CRO)
Sunday 18 November, 17:00 local time, live on

• In last Saturday’s Match of the Week, Zagreb defeated Celje by two, 24:22
• After seven rounds, these teams have the least effective offence in Group B. Celje have scored 176 times, once more than Zagreb
• The teams are rubbing shoulders in the table ranking. Zagreb count five points while Celje are seventh with six

TEXT: Adrian Costeiu / Kevin Domas / cg