Champions Barça face toughest test to date

Kevin Domas / Björn Pazen

A French-German Match of the Week and a rematch of the EHF Champions League 2014/15 final headline the third round of the EHF Champions League Men 2021/22.

The MOTW between Montpellier Handball and THW Kiel, who combine for six EHF Champions League, stands out in the schedule for group A, while in group B, only Barça have taken the maximum of four points so far. The reigning champions will test their invincibility in a high-profile clash in Veszprém.

Also in group A, Aalborg will have to withstand the heat in Skopje, while Zagreb hope to end their long series of defeats against Elverum and Meshkov aim for their first points of the season.

In group B, Kielce and Paris target their first away wins of the season, in Zaporozhye and Flensburg, as Dinamo Bucuresti try to take their second home victory, versus Porto.

HC Vardar 1961 (MKD) vs Aalborg Håndbold (DEN)
Wednesday 29 September, 18:45 CEST, live on EHFTV

  • Vardar and Aalborg clash for the first time in an official match
  • both sides are unbeaten this season — Aalborg won in Zagreb and against Montpellier, while Vardar drew at Elverum and won against Meshkov Brest
  • Aalborg have the best goal difference of all 16 teams in the competition, with +18 after two matches
  • both sides have been EHF Champions League finalists: Vardar won the trophy in 2017 and 2019, while Aalborg lost the 2021 final against Barcelona
  • Aalborg won their away match in the Danish league at Skanderborg 33:24 to top the table with eight points from four matches
  • while Lukas Sandell was Aalborg’s top scorer against Montpellier with 11 goals, Vardar have mainly relied on their new arrived French twins Olivier and Kevynn Alix Nyokas, who combine for 17 strikes in the two matches so far
  • Aalborg’s new arrival Aron Palmarsson is still ruled out due to injury

HC PPD Zagreb (CRO) vs Elverum Handball (NOR) 
Wednesday 29 September, 20:45 CEST, live on EHFTV

  • Elverum have one point from the draw against Vardar; Zagreb are still on zero
  • Zagreb’s last victory in the EHF Champions League dates to February 2020 — a 31:30 result against Aalborg. Since then, PPD have lost 18 matches in a row
  • the only duels between the sides occurred in the 2019/20 season, when Zagreb won the home match 30:27 and drew (30:30) at Elverum
  • both sides have one Hungarian in their squad: Csaba Leimeter (Zagreb) and Dominik Mathe (Elverum)
  • Elverum had a match-free weekend in the Norwegian league, but still top the table with eight points from four matches. Zagreb secured a 29:22 away victory at Umag in Croatian league

HC Meshkov Brest (BLR) vs Pick Szeged (HUN)
Thursday 30 September, 18:45 CEST, live on EHFTV

  • Brest lost their first two group matches, and new coach Daniel Gordo still waits for his first success on the international stage
  • after a draw in Montpellier, Szeged took a clear 30:21 win against Zagreb and remained unbeaten
  • the overall balance of this duel speaks clearly, with six Pick victories and only two for Meshkov — but the two Brest wins were in their last home matches, in 2017 (25:23) and 2020 (26:24)
  • Czech back Stanislav Kasparek, who joined Brest before the season, played for Szeged from 2018 to 2021
  • Kasperek: “I spent three years in Szeged, I have a lot of friends there. It will be a special game for me, a little bit strange feelings. I have already talked with some of the players, asked how they are doing. Look forward to meet them again”
  • Szeged’s new arrival Sebastian Frimmel is currently the third top scorer of the competition
  • Pick won their last match in the Hungarian league clearly — 31:20 against Csurgoi

MOTW: Montpellier HB (FRA) vs THW Kiel (GER)
Thursday 30 September, 20:45 CEST, live on EHFTV  

  • Kiel have the optimum of four points after two victories against Brest and Elverum, while Montpellier wait for their first win following a draw against Szeged and a defeat at Aalborg
  • in eight direct duels, Montpellier won only once — at Kiel rather than at home, funnily enough. Kiel won all four away matches versus the French side
  • Kiel won the Champions League trophy in 2007, 2010, 2012 and 2020, while Montpellier took the title in 2003 and 2018
  • three players have been Champions League winners with both clubs: Thierry Omeyer (Montpellier 2003; Kiel 2007, 2010 and 2012), Nikola Karabatic (Montpellier 2003; Kiel 2007) and Vid Kavticnik (Kiel 2007; Montpellier 2018)
  • from the current Montpellier squad, left wing Hugo Descat and right back Valentin Porte won the Tokyo 2020 Olympic gold medal with France, beating the Danish Landin brothers, Niklas and Magnus, in the final
  • Montpellier are 14-time French champions (but wait for the trophy since 2012, when PSG’s dominance started), while Kiel are record winners of the Bundesliga trophy with 22 titles
  • while Kiel top the ranking of the German Bundesliga with four victories from four matches, Montpellier lost the Starligue duel at Nantes 28:34 to rank ninth

HC Motor (UKR) vs Lomza Vive Kielce (POL)
Wednesday 29 September, 18:45 CEST, live on EHFTV

  • both sides currently have two points, with Motor having won against Porto and Kielce beating Veszprém in the round 2 MOTW — both by three goals
  • starting with the first duel in 2014, Motor and Kielce have faced each other six times in the Champions League. Kielce won five of those clashes, including the two in 2019/20, while one game ended in a draw, in 2019
  • Arkadiusz Moryto is currently Kielce’s top scorer in the Champions League, with 13 goals, two more than Motor’s top scorer Viachaslau Bokhan
  • this past weekend, Kielce took the points in the Polish league against Kalisz (39:27), while Motor enjoyed an easy win against CSKA Kiev (50:11)

Telekom Veszprém HC (HUN) vs Barça (ESP)
Wednesday 29 September, 18:45 CEST, live on EHFTV

  • Barça are the only team to have won their first two games in group B, while Veszprém have two points after a win against Paris and a loss in Kielce
  • Veszprém and Barça played against each other 23 times in European competitions, dating to 1986. Barça won 16 times, including the two matches last season (37:34; 37:30), while Veszprém won six and one game ended on a draw, back in 1999
  • Barça are undefeated in the Champions League since the season 2019/20 final, which they lost to THW Kiel
  • Veszprém centre back Rasmus Lauge: “­Barça are Barça. They are the reigning champions that everybody wants to beat, but they are undefeated for I don’t even know how long. It is going to be a difficult task, but we play at home and with the help of our fans we will try to take our chances”
  • both teams are currently undefeated in their domestic competitions. While Veszprém did not play in the Hungarian league this weekend, Barça took the points in Irun (32:26)
  • with 15 goals, Dika Mem is currently the second top scorer in the Champions League, with two fewer than Raul Nantes Campos (Dinamo Bucuresti)

SG Flensburg-Handewitt (GER) vs Paris Saint-Germain HB (FRA)
Wednesday 29 September, 20:45 CEST, live on EHFTV

  • the sides played against each other 14 times in the Champions League; first in 2005. PSG won nine contests while Flensburg won five
  • last season, the teams were in the same group and Flensburg won both games: 29:28 in Paris and 28:27 at home
  • in 2021/22, the German side became the first to win in Paris in the Champions League since THW Kiel in 2014
  • with 72 goals scored, Paris currently have the second most effective offence in the Champions League, with two goals fewer than THW Kiel
  • Flensburg’s Hampus Wanne ranks among the Champions League 2021/22 top scorers, with 14 goals, while Mikkel Hansen has netted 12 times for PSG
  • this weekend, Paris took the points in Créteil on Sunday (36:32) while the game between Flensburg and Lemgo was postponed

CS Dinamo Bucuresti (ROU) vs FC Porto (POR)
Thursday 30 September, 18:45 CEST, live on EHFTV

  • Dinamo and Porto have never met in European competitions
  • both teams have two points ahead of the encounter. Bucharest opened their account in round 1 against Kielce while Porto defeated Flensburg at home last week
  • last week, Cedric Sorhaindo (Dinamo) scored more than five goals in a Champions League match for the first time in 13 seasons
  • Raul Nantes Campos (Bucharest) is currently the top scorer of the Champions League, having netted 17 times over the first two rounds
  • last weekend, Bucharest took the points in the Romanian league by winning in Alexandria (34:26), while Porto defeated Povoa (33:22)

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