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1 month ago - 2/21/2020

Four teams looking to extend winning streaks

SL Benfica, HBC Nantes, SC Magdeburg and Rhein-Neckar Löwen have all collected two wins in their first two games of the EHF Cup group phase, but their streaks will be put to test this weekend.

In group A, Benfica can remain hopeful as they host Gwardia Opole, a team that has yet to take a point this season.

The operation will be more complicated for Rhein-Neckar Löwen in group B, as the German side travel to Spain to play against Liberbank Cuenca.

In group C, Nantes face Magdeburg in the first duel of the unbeaten top teams. These two sides are among the favourites in the competition and will meet again next weekend in Germany.

In group D, all teams have already taken a point, but Füchse Berlin and Grundfos Tatabanya KC hope for second wins in order to break away at the top of group.

GROUP A
SL Benfica (POR) vs KPR Gwardia Opole (POL) 
Saturday 22 February, 17:00 CET, live on ehftv.com

  • SL Benfica achieved a morale-boosting victory against Melsungen last Saturday

  • Gwardia Opole won this Wednesday against Zaglebie Lubin (36:31) in the Polish league and will look for the first victory in the EHF Cup group 

  • in 2017/18, Gwardia Opole eliminated SL Benfica from the EHF Cup in a very balanced contest 

  • SL Benfica have only two defeats at home this season – none so far in the EHF Cup 

GROUP B
TTH Holstebro (DEN) vs USAM Nimes Gard (FRA) 
Saturday 22 February, 15:00 CET, live on ehftv.com

  • both teams are in need of a win in order to keep their quarter-final dreams alive. Holstebro the most, still being on zero points, while Nimes have one

  • Holstebro can count on right back Nikolaj Enderleit, back from injury

  • Holstebro maintained second position in the Danish league on Tuesday by defeating Aarhus Handbold 35:31 at home, before Nimes won 30:28 at home against EHF Cup colleagues PAUC Handball in the Lidl Starligue on Wednesday night

Liberbank Cuenca (ESP) vs Rhein-Neckar Löwen (GER) 
Sunday 22 February, 12:00 CET, live on ehftv.com

  • despite missing five players, Rhein-Neckar Löwen managed to win their latest group match as clearly as 35:27 way against TTH Holstebro

  • Rhein-Neckar Löwen are on top of the group with four points from two matches, followed by Cuenca, who are on three points

  • Cuenca had a poor dress rehearsal, losing 31:28 away to EHF Cup colleagues La Rioja on Tuesday night

  • Löwen drew with Lemgo 29:29 in the Bundesliga on Thursday 

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GROUP C
Abanca Ademar Leon (ESP) vs RK Gorenje Velenje (SLO)
Saturday 22 February, 19:30 CET, live on ehfTV.com

  • both sides started the group phase with two defeats, against Magdeburg and Nantes

  • in the VELUX EHF Champions League 2017/18, Leon and Velenje clashed in the group phase, winning their respective home matches

  • in 2010, Velenje eliminated the Spanish side in the Champions League qualification

  • with 26 goals, Velenje’s Matic Verdinek is currently the sixth top scorer of the competition

HBC Nantes (FRA) vs SC Magdeburg
Sunday 23 February, 17:00 CET, live on ehfTV.com

  • both sides have the maximum of four points in their account

  • when the teams met in the first ever EHF Cup group phase, in 2012/13, Magdeburg won in Nantes and drew at home

  • both teams have been part of the EHF Cup Finals twice – Nantes made it to the final twice on home ground (2013, 2016), Magdeburg lost in the semis twice (2017, 2018). Magdeburg won the EHF Cup three times in the old format 

  • thanks to 18 saves from goalkeeper Emil Hansen, Nantes won their latest French league match, in Dunkerque, 34:19 

  • Magdeburg had their East German Bundesliga derby against Leipzig on Thursday, winning by two goals

GROUP D
Grundfos Tatabanya KC (HUN) vs PAUC Handball (FRA)
Saturday 22 February, 17:00 CET, live on ehfTV.com

  • Tatabanya are currently top of the group, level with Füchse Berlin on three points. PAUC are tied in third with La Rioja, on one point

  • PAUC have not been defeated away in this season’s EHF Cup, while Tatabanya only lost one game at home in the previous three seasons – in the last group phase, to Croatian side RK Nexe

  • the last time Tatabanya played against a French side in the EHF Cup, they won at home but lost away to Chambéry in the qualification round in 2017/18

  • PAUC have not won any of their last four games, while Tatabanya have only taken victories in two of their five played since the EHF EURO

BM Logroño La Rioja (ESP) vs Füchse Berlin (GER)
Saturday 22 February, 19:00 CET, live on ehfTV.com

  • Berlin lost a competitive match for the first time in 2020 when they were defeated 30:25 by GWD Minden in the German Bundesliga on Thursday night

  • La Rioja won their three league matches in 2020 but only earned one point from their two EHF Cup games

  • the last time the two teams met was in the EHF Cup 2018/19 group phase, and Berlin won both legs 

  • Berlin have not lost a European Cup game against a Spanish team since Match 2013, when they were beaten by BM Atletico Madrid in the Last 16 of the VELUX EHF Champions League

  • the German side will still be missing key players, as Dejan Milosavljev and Fabian Wiede suffer long-term injuries. Paul Drux should, however, make his group phase debut this season after missing the first two games

Author: Kevin Domas / Björn Pazen / Peter Bruun / Tiago Nogueira