Barça and PSG look to strengthen their grip on the top spotsArticle
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GROUP A/B PREVIEW: While Szeged faltered and Kielce face Vardar, the two top sides in Groups A and B can extend their leads at the top of the tables.

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Barça and PSG look to strengthen their grip on the top spots

MOL-Pick Szeged may have stopped PSG’s eight-game winning run, but they lost on Wednesday against Flensburg, therefore the French giants can extend their advantage to three points if they win their next game on Saturday against Skjern.

Barça Lassa have the better head-to-head record against both Kielce and Vardar and are four points ahead of their nearest rivals in the group, but they are still on an eight-game winning streak that can be extended against Brest. With another win, the Spanish outfit - who boast the best attacking record in the competition - could edge closer to claiming first place in the group.

Elsewhere, Kielce and Vardar will fight for second place in Group A, while Motor, Zagreb, Celje and Nantes have another tough battle in Group B to see which teams go through to the Last 16 phase of the VELUX EHF Champions League.

GROUP A

HC Vardar (MKD) vs PGE Vive Kielce (POL)

Saturday, 1 December, 18:30hrs local time, live on ehfTV

  • After winning their first four games of the season, Vardar only recorded one win in the past five games in the VELUX EHF Champions League
  • Kielce won five of their seven games against Vardar, but they have only won once in Skopje, 22:20, in the quarter-final phase four seasons ago
  • The Polish side only have one point more than Vardar in the group rankings after nine rounds, but won the first leg in commanding style, 31:27

IFK Kristianstad (SWE) vs Rhein-Neckar Löwen (GER)

Saturday, 1 December, 18:30hrs local time, live on ehfTV

  • Löwen failed to take advantage of Kielce’s and Vardar’s losses last round and are still in fourth place in the group
  • If they lose on Saturday, the Lions would tie their worst-ever losing run in the VELUX EHF Champions League; three consecutive games
  • Relying on their veterans, Löwen have failed to produce goals in the past two games, with Andre Schmid, Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson and Alexander Petersson combining for five goals in the losses against Montpellier and Veszprem
  • Kristianstad earned all their five points in the past four games and can equal their longest unbeaten run if they contain Löwen on Saturday
  • The German side have lost three of their last five games, including the past two in European competition

Barça Lassa (ESP) vs HC Meshkov Brest (BLR)

Sunday, 2 December, 16:30hrs local time, live on ehfTV

  • The Spanish side can extend their winning streak to nine games, their second best ever, three games fewer than their record of 12, between 2011 and 2012
  • Barça’s attack has been unstoppable this season, scoring 310 goals in nine games, an average of 34.4 goals per game
  • Spanish coach Manolo Cadenas has failed to win a game against the two other Spanish coaches in the group, Roberto Garcia Parrondo and Xavi Pascual, drawing against Vardar last week and losing the other two
  • The Belarussian side are on a seven game winless streak, and are tied with Kristianstad for the sixth place in the group

MOTW: Telekom Veszprem HC (HUN) vs Montpellier HB (FRA)

Sunday, 2 December, 19:00hrs local time, live on ehfTV

  • After two consecutive losses, Veszprem earned two wins and can jump to a three-game winning streak
  • The title holders won against Löwen two rounds ago, but failed to kick on, being beaten in the dying seconds by Kristianstad last week
  • Montpellier have only got a point from four away games this season, a 29:29 draw against Kristianstad, but they are still last in the group, two points behind both Brest and the Swedish team
  • The Hungarian side have won nine of the 13 head-to-head matches between the two sides, including the last five games

GROUP B

HC PPD Zagreb (CRO) vs HC Motor Zaporozhye (UKR)

Saturday, 1 December, 17:00hrs local time, live on ehfTV

  • Motor have taken points from their last three Champions League games; two wins against Nantes and Zagreb, and a draw against Nantes
  • The Ukrainian side is fifth in Group B with seven points, while Zagreb are currently last with one point fewer
  • This will be Lino Cervar’s last Champions League game with Zagreb this season, as he will finish his coaching duties at the end of the year
  • In the reverse fixture, Zaporozhye won 35:27 at home 

Paris Saint-Germain HB (FRA) vs Skjern Handbold (DEN)

Saturday, 1 December, 17:30hrs local time, live on ehfTV

  • Paris are top of Group B at the moment, if they win against Skjern they will increase their lead to three points over Szeged
  • Skjern have six points at the moment, three of them were gained away
  • When the two teams met in Denmark, Paris won narrowly, 26:24

RK Celje Pivovarna Lasko (SLO) vs HBC Nantes (FRA)

Sunday, 2 December, 17:00hrs local time, live on ehfTV

  • In the first match between these two, Nantes grabbed a large win at home, 38:27
  • Nantes are in the middle of a run of six straight away games in all competitions. They left on Wednesday for a French league game and won’t be back home for a week
  • They also drew in their last two away games in the Champions League, in Zaporozhye and Zagreb
  • Celje have a good home record in the Champions League, with three wins already and only one loss

TEXT: Adrian Costeiu /at
 
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