Cramped competition at top of tablesArticle
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GROUP A/B PREVIEW: Barça and PSG are neck-and-neck in group A, while five teams are in a tough battle for second place in group B, separated by only one point
»2019-20 Men's News

Cramped competition at top of tables

On Wednesday, THW Kiel made a winning comeback after being shocked last weekend by Porto. Therefore, they remain on top in VELUX EHF Champions League group B, with the cramped race for second place heating up, as five teams are separated by only one point.

PGE VIVE Kielce are hosting the Match of the Week against HC Vardar, while Montpellier HB could take advantage of their clash against winless HC Motor Zaporozhye to secure one more week in second place.

In group A, Barça and Paris Saint-Germain HB are currently tied at the top, with MOL-Pick Szeged just one point behind. The duo will be playing at home this weekend, and could use the opportunity to widen the gap between them and the teams positioned fourth and below. At the moment, Aalborg Handbold, ranked fourth, are four points behind Barça and Paris.

If they win in Elverum, Szeged could put some more pressure on the two leaders.

Barça (ESP) vs Aalborg Handbold (DEN)
Saturday 16 November, 20:00 CET, live on

  • Barça are top of the group at the moment, while Aalborg are four points behind, in fourth place

  • Barça came out of the first leg victorious last weekend, 34:30, in Denmark

  • the two times Aalborg visited Barcelona in the Champions League, they lost clearly – by 11 in 2014 and by seven in 2015

  • before round 8, Barça had, by far, the most prolific offence of the competition, with 246 goals scored

Paris Saint-Germain HB (FRA) vs SG Flensburg-Handewitt (GER)
Sunday 17 November, 17:00 CET, live on

  • PSG are currently second in the group with 12 points, while Flensburg are fifth with seven

  • Paris won the first leg in Germany 10 days ago by one goal, 30:29

  • Flensburg announced this week that former left wing Lars Christiansen would join the staff immediately

  • the German side have welcomed the return of Goeran Johannessen, who missed the first leg due to an ankle injury

Elverum Handball (NOR) vs MOL-Pick Szeged (HUN)
Sunday 17 November, 19:00 CET, live on

  • after seven games, Elverum have yet to win a match in the Champions League. On the other hand, Szeged are third in the group with 11 points

  • Aalborg are the only team in the Champions League to have scored exactly the same number of goals as they have received (206)

  • with 169 goals scored, Elverum have the second least prolific offence of the competition

  • in all competitions, Szeged only lost two points away from home this season. That was in Paris, in round 2 of the Champions League

MOTW: PGE VIVE Kielce (POL) vs HC Vardar (MKD)
Saturday 16 November, 18:00 CET, live on

  • in the previous Match of the Week that featured the Polish champions, Kielce took a last-second draw against Kiel, 30:30

  • Vardar won the first two away games of the season, against Montpellier and Motor, but were outgunned by Veszprém, 39:30, in their third

  • Kielce lost one home game this season, against Montpellier, 29:27, but won against Veszprém and Motor

  • Kielce are unbeaten in three matches, while Vardar have their own two-game unbeaten streak, which follows two consecutive losses

  • the sides drew 28:28 last weekend in a high-octane game in Skopje – the first draw between the teams, after Kielce took five wins and Vardar three in the previous eight games

Telekom Veszprém HC (HUN) vs HC Meshkov Brest (BLR)
Saturday 16 November, 17:30 CET, live on

  • Veszprém are a tough nut to crack at home: aside from their defeat against Kiel, the Hungarian side have three wins with an average margin of 10.3 goals per game

  • Brest’s last away win came in September 2018, against Kristianstad. The Belarusian team lost their last 10 away games by an average of 6.4 goals 

  • Veszprém have the second most effective attack in the competition, with 236 goals scored in the first seven games, while Brest have conceded 220 goals – only four teams have allowed more until this point in the competition

  • the Hungarian champions put 37 past Brest last week in Belarus, in their 37:30 victory. Veszprém have won all five mutual games between the two sides

Montpellier HB (FRA) vs HC Motor Zaporozhye (UKR) 
Sunday 17 November, 19:00 CET, live on

  • Motor are currently on their worst-ever run in the competition, without a win for 10 games, with their last victory coming in February, against Skjern

  • the Ukrainian side have parted company with coach Mykola Stepanets, who was replaced by Evgeny Budko

  • Motor are currently last in the group, with only one point – seven behind the sixth place, which secures a Last 16 berth

  • Montpellier are second in the standings, with nine points, four behind leaders Kiel and level with Vardar

  • the sides met last week in Zaporozhye, with Montpellier emerging with a hard-fought 26:25 win

TEXT: Adrian Costeiu / Kevin Domas / cg