Plock host GOG in MOTW; Barça challenge Magdeburg
In group A of the Machineseeker EHF Champions League, all the winning teams from round 1 will play at home this week, including debutants Kolstad Handball hosting last season’s runners-up Industria Kielce.
In group B, the four winners of the first matchday will lock horns with the four losing teams, highlighted by the top clash between record champions Barça and current titleholders Magdeburg, and the MOTW between Orlen Wisla Plock and GOG, which are led by new head coach Mikkel Voigt.
I am very proud of the team for how they came out to the first game in Kielce. They kept a high intensity and patience throughout the whole game, which got rewarded with a win. We need to take that with us into the new game on Wednesday when we meet Pelister for the first time ever.
Aalborg is a team that played in the EHF Champions League final two seasons ago. This is our second match where we have to play against a well-known Scandinavian school. I think we have a tough match ahead of us, but we will do our best to represent Eurofarm Pelister and Macedonian handball in Aalborg. Aalborg's team has been created by young players and mega-stars Hansen and Landin. We really have a difficult mission ahead of us. We will do everything to improve the impression from the first round in the EHF Champions League.
I was surprised by the size and certainty of Kolstad's victory against Pelister. This win certainly made our opponents dream of participating in the EHF FINAL4. But when you start looking at their roster, you understand it: Sander Sagosen, Gøran Johannessen, Torbjørn Bergerud... Our defeat against Aalborg still hurts us, but our goal does not change. We want to win every next match and take first place in the group.
That will be an absolute top game at home. We want to start a hopefully good season with our fans. It will be a 50/50 game, Szeged brings incredible quality. I think they are eager to show that they are better than last year. But we have that ambition too. We have to find good solutions against their defensive bulwark and be mobile. Filip has a plan, we have to implement it now.
We went back to the intensity of the Champions League last week with a very big game in Szeged. We showed composure in the final minutes to win. We need to build on that first win by playing hard and strong against Zagreb this week. It's up to us to show that it's always difficult for our opponents to play and win at Coubertin.
One of the hardest, if not the hardest away game of the season. We're facing a team that has quality players in every position. I feel like we'll have to find a way to slow down Luc Steins and Kamil Syprzak, who are really playing in a very good form. We went through a coaching change, and as a result we're travelling to Paris with a slightly different game plan. Of course, our main goal is to give our absolute best to deliver a strong, physical performance. We all believe we can play much better than we did a week ago against Kiel.
I am sure there will be a great atmosphere and of course we want to win our first clash at home. I think we have a really difficult task ahead of us, because GOG are also a great team that presents a lot of quality, despite the changes in staff and players. The difference between us and them is really small, so in my opinion the final result will be decided by the details.
On Wednesday we play against the very good team of FC Porto, so we expect a very good performance from both teams. FC Porto is a very experienced team that has been playing together for some time, their team core consists of Portuguese national players. They showed in their first home match against Wisla that they have high ambitions. For sure they come to Celje with the same plan, but we have to stand squarely from the first minute.
It's the first game home for RK Celje Pivovarna Laško, so I believe they want to bring a great game for their fans. I'm very pleased with where my team is right now, but we all know that this is just the beginning and there's a lot to be done. So for now we're going to continue to work hard and be better than we were last game.
There are no easy matches in the Champions League, and this one will not be either. Montpellier is an absolutely tough opponent. They are physically strong and run a lot. They also have good shooters, so I expect a difficult game. However, we will play at home in front of our own fans. Thus, we have to perform well to win our first game at home in the Champions League.
A very difficult match awaits us. We know we have lost three times against them and everyone wants to win this game now. Also, it is the first Champions League game of this season at the Palau and I think everyone is focused. We will give everything, it is a very important game for us.