Zagreb host mighty Paris, Nexe can book Last 16 spot

Zvonimir Srna EHFCL

The World Championship 2023 is history, the SEHA - Gazprom League season 2023 just started - and now all EHF competitions are on the verge of re-start this week. In the Machineseeker EHF Champions League and the EHF European League each four rounds of the group phase are to be played, before the knock-out stage starts, and the EHF European Cup has reached the Last 16 already. CL participants PPD Zagreb and Telekom Veszprem start with home matches like HC Nexe in the EL, while Tatran Presov and Eurofarm Pelister will have to travel.

Machineseeker EHF Champions League

After taking five points from their last three matches before the winter break, PPD Zagreb were on a high flyer, consolidating the sixth position in group A, being three points ahead of Plock. In their re-start match on home ground, PPD Zagreb have a tough task ahead against current number 1, Paris Saint-Germain, where coach Raul Gonzalez (previously at Vardar) and Nikola Karabatic just extended their contracts. The first leg at Paris ended by a 31:40 defeat for the Croatian record champions, but since Slavko Goluza took over, PPD’s way is up. But: in eleven Champions League duels with Paris, Zagreb only took one win (in 2014) and one draw (in 2016).

But Zagreb can help Telekom Veszprem on their race for the direct ticket to the quarter-finals. Like PSG, Veszprem are on 16 points, but still have the two top clashes at Paris and at Magdeburg ahead. After becoming the only team with the full set of medals at the World Championship (Rasmus Lauge won gold with Denmark, Kentin Mahe silver with France and Rodrigo Corrales bronze with Spain), Veszprem are in the favourite role against GOG in their 2023 opener. The team of head coach Momir Ilic had won the first leg at Denmark 31:30, but the Danes - including WCh All-star team left back Simon Pytlick - have shown great performances by now and ranked fifth, right ahead of Zagreb.

Wednesday, 8 February (18:45 CET): PPD Zagreb - Paris Saint-Germain Handball
Wednesday, 8 February (18:45 CET): Telekom Veszprem - GOG

EHF European League

Despite their first defeat at Granollers in the final round before the winter break, Nexe still top the table of group C by ten points. If the team of Branko Tamse win their opener against Skjern on home ground, they would already clinch their berth for the Last 16. Nexe had won the first match at Denmark 30:29 - and can prove their home strength again, like in their first SEHA - Gazprom League home match against Eurofarm Pelister on Thursday (29:25)

In group D, Eurofarm Pelister have another duel with a Danish club, EC debutants Skanderborg-Aarhus, who play a surprisingly strong first season on the European stage. The Danes have already eight points on their account and took a win in their opener at Bitola (30:27). If Eurofarm Pelister can take revenge at the re-start, they would almost bridge the gap to the Danes. The match will be a special one for Eurofarm Pelister’s top scorer Sebastian Henneberg and coach Lars Walther, as both are Danes.

In group A, Tatran Presov have the highest hurdle of all SEHA - Gazprom League participants ahead, travelling to defending European League champions Benfica SL in Lisbon. After their first win against Fejer Veszprem, Tatran still have the chance to proceed to the Last 16, but they need an away victory at Benfica to level the points with them.

Besides, the EHF announced the venue for the EHF finals in the European League last Friday: On 27/28 May the best four teams of the competition will duel for the trophy at Flensburg, Germany.

Tuesday, 7 February (18:45): Benfica SL - Tatran Presov
Tuesday, 7 February (18:45) Skanderborg-Aarhus - Eurofarm Pelister
Tuesday, 7 February (20:45)  Nexe - Skjern Handbold

EHF European Cup

have made it to the Last 16 after the EHF decision on their match against Krems. The Serbian side locks horns with Norwegian club OIF Arendal the next two weekends for the quarter-final ticket. On Saturday, the first leg is scheduled in Novi Sad, followed by the away game at Norway. Arendal had eliminated Belgian side Vise and Czech club Zubri in the previous rounds.

Saturday, 11 February (18:00 CET) Vojvodina - OIF Arendal