Final answers await in last roundArticle
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GROUP A/B PREVIEW: The group phase of the VELUX EHF Champions League comes to an end this weekend, and there are still plenty of questions lingering before the last seven games

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Final answers await in last round

The last round of the group phase of the VELUX EHF Champions League threw off on Wednesday, and with seven games remaining, there are still questions to be answered in groups A and B.

Barça and THW Kiel have secured first place in the two groups, but there is everything to play for otherwise.  

The second spot in group A remains up for grabs, with Paris Saint-Germain HB and MOL-Pick Szeged in a two-way tussle for the position. Moreover, after RK Pivovarna Lasko Celje’s loss against Flensburg, HC PPD Zagreb can still hope for the Last 16 – but the mission will be tougher than tough, as they have to win in Paris for the first time in history.

Moving to group B, all the Last 16 berths have been secured, but Montpellier HB and PGE VIVE Kielce are both eyeing third place, while FC Porto Sofarma and HC Vardar are vying for fifth.

Barça (ESP) vs MOL-Pick Szeged (HUN)
Saturday 29 February, 20:00 CET, live on

  • Barça have already secured first place in the group. Szeged are currently third, level on points with Paris. In order to leapfrog the French side for second place, they have to win this game and hope Paris do not take a victory against Zagreb

  • Szeged are the only side to have beaten Barça in the Champions League this season – 31:28 in the first round

  • only once did the Hungarian side came back from a trip to Barcelona victorious. In 2008, Szeged won 32:28

  • Szeged announced this week that their playmaker Dean Bombac had extended its contract to 2024

Aalborg Handbold (DEN) vs Elverum Handball (NOR)
Sunday 1 March, 16:50 CET, live on

  • Elverum are out of the race for the Last 16. Aalborg are currently fifth in the group, but they will take fourth place from Flensburg if they win this last game

  • the Danish side won the first leg easily, 34:24 away

  • it was announced this week that Elverum line player Kristian Krag Ørsted would leave at the end of the season to join French side Cherbourg. He is the fourth Elverum player to sign with another club for 2020/21

Paris Saint-Germain HB (FRA) vs HC PPD Zagreb (CRO)
Sunday 1 March, 17:00 CET, live on

  • Zagreb have a small chance to qualify for the Last 16: To make it, they have to beat PSG on Sunday

  • the French side must win this confrontation to secure their place in the group. Otherwise, Paris will have to hope that Szeged do not get a better result than them in Barça on Saturday

  • Zagreb have never won in Paris in the history of European competitions. Their best result was a draw in the return leg of the quarter-finals in 2016, 32:32

HC Motor Zaporozhye (UKR) vs Telekom Veszprém HC (HUN)
Saturday 29 February, 17:30 CET, live on

  • Veszprém secured second place in the group with their win against Montpellier last week

  • Lithuanian coach Gintaras Savukynas left Finnish champions Cocks to join Motor before the game against Veszprém

  • the Hungarian champions have won four of the mutual five games, including a 40:28 result in the first round of the group phase

  • the hosts conceded the largest number of goals this season, 430, while Veszprém’s attack has scored the second highest, 416

HC Meshkov Brest (BLR) vs FC Porto Sofarma (POR)
Saturday 29 February, 17:30 CET, live on

  • Porto earned their first ever Last 16 berth last week, with their 30:22 win against Vardar

  • Brest have missed progression to the VELUX EHF Champions League Last 16 for the first time in five years

  • three of Brest’s four wins this season came at home, against Vardar, Motor and THW Kiel

  • in the first match between the two sides, Porto earned a 27:25 win

  • the Portuguese side can clinch fifth place in the group if they do not lose, while Brest are sure of finishing seventh

HC Vardar (MKD) vs Montpellier HB (FRA)
Saturday 29 February, 17:30 CET, live on

  • the Macedonian side have won only one game in their last seven and are conceding at an alarming pace of 31.7 goals per game

  • Montpellier are fourth and can jump to third with a victory, if Kielce do not win against Kiel

  • Vardar dominate the mutual meetings, winning six games out of eight, including a 33:31 victory in the first leg

  • Montpellier have never won a match against Vardar in Skopje, but surprised the Macedonian side in the 2017/18 season, when they won the semi-final in Cologne 28:27

  • the French side won their domestic league clash against St Raphael on Wednesday, 34:33, breaking a four-game losing streak

PGE VIVE Kielce (POL) vs THW Kiel (GER)
Saturday 29 February, 18:00 CET, live on

  • Kielce can secure third place in the group with a victory against Kiel, while the German side won the group two rounds ago

  • Kiel have only won once in six trips to Kielce. The Polish side also earned victories in the 3/4 placement matches at two VELUX EHF FINAL4 editions, in 2013 and 2015

  • if they win on Saturday, Kielce will hit 100 victories in the VELUX EHF Champions League – only the ninth team in the history of the competition to hit this milestone

  • in the first meeting between the two sides this season, Kielce earned a last-gasp draw, 30:30

TEXT: Adrian Costeiu / Kevin Domas / cg