Decisive games in race for Last 16Article
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GROUP A/B PREVIEW: Depending on the results this weekend, the teams qualified for the Last 16 stage could be all but decided

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Decisive games in race for Last 16

THW Kiel may have secured first place in group B last week, but the situation is still open for group A – aside from Barça’s case. The Spanish powerhouse need only one point in their last two games to grab a direct quarter-final ticket.

Three teams are facing elimination this weekend, if they do not take two points in their respective games: Elverum Handball and HC PPD Zagreb in group A, HC Meshkov Brest in group B.

Paris Saint-Germain HB (FRA) vs Elverum Handball (NOR)
Saturday 22 February, 17:15 CET, live on

  • this is the last chance for Elverum to hope for a Last 16 spot. If the Norwegian side lose this game, they will be out of the competition

  • thanks to Szeged’s defeat on Wednesday, PSG will secure second spot in the group if they win their last two games

  • PSG won the first leg 25:22 in Norway, which remains the only time they scored less than 29 goals this season, across all competitions

  • despite them having the third most effective offence of the Champions League (only Barça and THW Kiel have scored more), PSG’s top scorer ranks 39th in the record: Sander Sagosen, with 47 goals

  • both clubs are top of their respective domestic leagues. PSG have not dropped a single point in the Lidl Starligue this season, while Elverum only lost one game, back in October

HC PPD Zagreb (CRO) vs Aalborg Handbold (DEN)
Saturday 22 February, 18:00 CET, live on

  • like with Elverum, this game is Zagreb’s last opportunity to hope for a Last 16 qualification. If they do not take the two points against Aalborg, the Croatian side will be out of the competition

  • if the Danish side win this confrontation, they will secure fourth place in the group. Aalborg could, in the worst case, be tied with Flensburg in the end, but would still finish ahead of the German side, having won the two direct confrontations

  • Aalborg easily took the win against Zagreb in the first leg at home, winning 30:20

RK Celje Pivovarna Lasko (SLO) vs Barça (ESP)
Sunday 23 February, 17:00 CET, live on

  • Barça won the first leg at home 45:21 – their largest victory in the Champions League this season, and their third biggest of all games across all competitions

  • ahead of the weekend, Celje need two points to secure sixth place in the group – but they could also grab their Last 16 ticket without even playing, if Zagreb and Elverum lose their respective games on Saturday

  • Celje have not won a match against Barça since 2005

  • the teams’ top scorers have almost the same number of goals: Aleix Gomez has netted 60 times for Barça, two more than Celje’s Josip Sarac

FC Porto Sofarma (POR) vs HC Vardar (MKD)
Saturday 22 February, 16:00 CET, live on

  • Porto can secure a Last 16 berth if they win against the title holders

  • the Portuguese side are on a three-game losing streak, dating to November 2019. They lost both matches in 2020 by an average of six goals per game

  • Vardar leapfrogged Porto for fifth place last weekend, but they only hold a one-point advantage over the Portuguese champions

  • the Macedonian side count the second highest number of goals conceded in the competition, 383

  • in the only mutual meeting between the two sides, Vardar beat Porto 32:27 in the second round of the season

HC Meshkov Brest (BLR) vs THW Kiel (GER)
Saturday 22 February, 17:30 CET, live on

  • Kiel secured first place in the group with the win against Veszprém last week

  • Brest’s fate is out of their hands – they need to win both remaining games, while Porto must lose against Vardar for the Belarusian side to stay in the hunt for the next stage

  • Kiel’s superb run this season has been fueled by a five-game away winning streak, with the German powerhouse dominating their opponents by an average 4.8 goals per game in those matches

  • Kiel have won all seven mutual meetings between the two sides, including a 31:23 drubbing in the first game between this season

MOTW: Telekom Veszprém HC (HUN) vs Montpellier HB (FRA)
Sunday 23 February, 17:00 CET, live on

  • the battle for second place is on: Veszprém hold a one-point advantage over Montpellier with two rounds to go. A win would see them secure the spot

  • Veszprém’s loss last week against Kiel, 29:28, stopped a five-game winning streak for the Hungarian champions

  • Veszprém have the second most effective attack in the competition, with 392 goals scored, while Montpellier have conceded the lowest number of goals, 324

  • Montpellier left wing Hugo Descat is a contender for the top goal scorer award: he is currently on 61 goals in fifth position. Descat scored 20 goals in two games in 2020

  • each side has played twice in the Match of the Week this season: Montpellier won against Kielce, but lost against Kiel, while Veszprém were victorious against Brest, and were defeated by Kiel

  • Montpellier beat Veszprém in the first game between the two sides, 23:18, but won only once in six attempts in Veszprém’s arena

TEXT: Kevin Domas / Adrian Costeiu / cg