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20 days ago - 3/5/2019

10 nations still in title race after 176 matches and 10,038 goals

After 176 matches, the group phase of the VELUX EHF Champions League concluded last Sunday. On 20 March the knockout stage will start with many familiar faces and one Last 16 debutant, Sporting CP from Portugal.

However, for the first time the defending champions will be missing from the knockout.

It was goals galore in the group phase - more than 10,000. While Barça Lassa boasted the most impressive attack, SG Flensburg-Handewitt had the best defence.

After analysing the group phase ehfCL.com presents the most impressive and important facts and figures.

0 clubs successfully defended their title since the implementation of the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in 2010. The streak continues as title-holders Montpellier HB stranded in the group phase.

0 teams are playing a team from the same country in the Last 16, like last season.

0 teams won all their (up to) 14 group matches or remained unbeaten: PSG won 13 from their 14 matches, Barça 12 from 14.

0 teams lost all their matches. In Groups C/D, Thun ended on one point, Metalurg on two. In A/B, the lowest points total was five, from Kristianstad.

1 team is Last 16 debutant: Portuguese champions Sporting CP celebrated their biggest international success in their third EHF Champions League season after eliminating Bucuresti in the play-offs.

1 player has successfully defended the title under the current format (since 2010): Vardar’s Ivan Cupic. He won in 2016 with Kielce and in 2017 with Vardar.

3 times in their 14 group matches, Barça scored more than 40 goals.

3 times in the last four years both PSG and Barça have won their groups in the group phase and skipped the Last 16. Vardar (twice) are the only other group winners since 2015/16.

3 coaches still in the competition have won the EHF Champions League as a coach: Talant Dujshebaev (Kielce/4 titles), Xavi Pascual (Barça/2), and Raul Gonzalez (PSG/1). David Davis (Veszprém) and Roberto Parrondo (Vardar) have won the title as players of Ciudad Real.

3 coaches still in the competition also coach a national team: Nikolaj Jacobsen (Löwen and Denmark), Manolo Cadenas (Brest and Argentina) and David Davis (Veszprém and Egypt). Raul Gonzalez (PSG) has just left as Macedonian national team coach. Kielce’s Talant Dujshebaev (Hungary/Poland), Szeged’s Juan Carlos Pastor (Spain), Plock’s Javier Sabate (Hungary) and Barça’s Xavi Pascual (Romania) previously coached national teams.

4 group matches ended with 70 or more goals.

4 previous EHF Champions League winners, who combined lifted 11 trophies, are still part of the competition: Barça (1996-2000, 2005, 2011, 2015), Flensburg (2014), Kielce (2016) and Vardar (2017). Last season, six previous winners made it to the Last 16.

4 EHF Champions League finalists have advanced from the group phase: Zagreb (1995, 1997, 1998 1999), Veszprém (2002, 2015, 2016), Paris (2017) and Nantes (2018).

4 group matches involving HBC Nantes ended in a draw, twice as much as the total number of draws in Group A (two).

5 different nations won the last five EHF Champions League titles: Germany (2014 Flensburg), Spain (2015 Barça), Poland (2016 Kielce), FYR Macedonia (2017 Vardar), and France (2018 Montpellier). All five nations are still in the race for the 2018/19 title.

5 of the 8 quarter-finalists from last season have advanced from the group phase again: Nantes, Vardar, PSG, Kielce and Flensburg. Montpellier and Skjern have failed to qualify this time while Kiel haven’t taken part in the competition.

8 of the 14 teams still in the competition have been part of at least one VELUX EHF FINAL4 (since 2010): Barça (six participations/two trophies), Veszprém (four/zero), Kielce (three/one), Paris (three/zero), Vardar (two/one), Flensburg (one/one), Löwen and Nantes (both one/zero).

9 points from 14 group matches were enough for Brest to qualify for the Last 16.

10 defeats in 14 group matches was the disappointing result for defending champions Montpellier.

10 group matches (including play-offs) ended with 45 or fewer goals. Four of those matches were in Group D.

10 rounds and 60 matches in total were played in Groups C/D to find the two best-ranked teams in each group. Ultimately Plock and Sporting advanced from those groups.

10 nations are still in the competition: France, Germany, Hungary, Poland (each with two teams), Spain, FYR Macedonia, Belarus, Ukraine, Croatia and Portugal.

10 of the 14 teams still in the competition were also still in the race at this stage last season: Vardar, PSG, Veszprém, Barça, Brest, Nantes, Flensburg, Löwen, Szeged and Kielce. Zagreb, Zaporozhye, Plock and Sporting are in; Montpellier, Kiel, Skjern and Kristianstad are out.

12 of 176 group matches (including play-offs) ended with a difference of 10 or more goals. Only four of them were among the 112 matches played in Groups A/B.

12 of 176 group matches (including play-offs) ended in a draw. Seven of them were in Group B, two in Group A, three in Group D and zero in Group C.

13 was the highest number of victories by a single team in the group phase, by PSG in Group B. Barça won 12 matches in Group A.

14 points on home court, the maximum, were gathered by both PSG and Barça.

18 was the lowest number of goals scored by a team in a group phase match: Cocks, which lost 34:18 to Plock.

19 goals was the biggest difference in a group match: Barça beat Kristianstad 44:25.

24 matches still have to be played this VELUX EHF Champions League season: 12 Last 16 matches, eight quarter-finals, two semi-finals, one 3/4 placement match, and the final.

26 points, earned by PSG, were the highest number for any team in a group phase since the implementation of the format in 2015/16. So far, Barça’s 25 points from 2016/17 was the record.

33 group matches - all in the Groups A/B and two less than last season - were attended by 5,000 or more fans.

34.7 goals per match in average have been scored by Barça in the group phase.

36 consecutive Champions League matches on home ground is the record unbeaten streak of PSG, since they lost 27:25 to Kiel in November 2014.

38 was the lowest number of goals scored in a single match: Cocks vs Leon, 19:19.

44 was the highest number of goals scored by a team in a single match: Barça beat Kristianstad 44:25.

58 matches in the group phase (including play-offs) ended with 60 or more goals, 13 matches more than last year.

66 times in 176 group matches the away team won: 22 in Group A, 17 in Group B, 16 in Group C, 7 in Group D, 3 in the play-offs.

78 was the highest number of goals in a single match: Barça beat Kielce 42:36.

81 was the total number of goals in both duels between Cocks and Leon, 19:19 and 23:20.

87 goals were scored by Melvyn Richardson (Montpellier) to become top scorer of the group phase. Best scorers still in the competition are Barys Pukhouski (Zaporopzhye/80) and Andy Schmid (Rhein-Neckar Löwen/78).

98 times in 176 group matches the home team won - exactly the same number as last year: 32 in Group A, 31 in Group B, 14 in Group C, 20 in Group D, 1 in the play-offs.

138 goals were scored in the two duels between Barça and Kristianstad, 44:25 and 43:26.

176 matches have been played so far this season: 112 in Groups A/B, 60 in Groups C/D, 4 in the play-offs.

370 goals conceded made Flensburg the strongest defensive team in Groups A/B (in 14 matches); Plock conceded 296 goals in Groups C/D and play-offs (12 matches in total).

486 goals scored made Barça the strongest attacking team in Groups A/B (in 14 matches); Bjerringbro scored 373 goals in Groups C/D and play-offs (12 matches in total).

9,134 fans was the highest attendance number so far, at Zagreb vs PSG.

10,038 goals (127 more than last year) were scored in the group phase including play-offs: 3,311 in Group A; 3,215 in Group B; 1,686 in Group C; 1,615 in Group C; 211 in the play-offs.

Top 5 rankings of the VELUX EHF Champions League Group Phase 2018/19:

Most goals per match:

78 - Kielce vs Barça 36:42
73 - Barça vs Brest 41:32
71 - Kielce vs Veszprém 35:36
70 - Skjern vs Zaporozhye 37:33
69 - Löwen vs Barça 35:34; PSG vs Nantes 35:34; Kristianstad vs Barça 25:44; Barça vs Kristianstad 43:26

Fewest goals per match:

38 - Cocks vs Leon 19:19
43 - Leon vs Cocks 23:20
43 - Celje vs Flensburg 23:20
43 - Nantes vs Zagreb 23:20
43 - Zagreb vs Flensburg 21:22

Biggest winning margin:

+19 - Kristianstad vs Barça 25:44
+16 - Plock vs Cocks 34:18
+13 - Besiktas vs Bjerringbro 24:37
+12 - Chekhovskie Medvedi vs Presov 38:26
+11 - Zagreb vs Paris 21:32

Most goals scored (Groups A/B in 14 matches):

486 - Barça
455 - PSG
439 - Kielce
421 - Nantes
418 - Rhein-Neckar Löwen

Fewest goals conceded (Groups A/B in 14 matches):

370 - Flensburg
382 - Veszprém
385 - Paris
388 - Zagreb
390 - Vardar

Best goal difference (A/B after 14 matches):

+95 - Barça
+70 - PSG
+28 - Veszprém
+16 - Vardar
+14 - Szeged

Most spectators:

9,134 - Zagreb vs Paris
7,300 - Montpellier vs Barça
7,008: Skjern vs PSG
6,018: Rhein-Neckar Löwen vs Barça
5,902: Nantes vs Zagreb; Nantes vs Zaporozhye; Nantes vs Szeged

Top scorers:

87 goals - Melvyn Richardson (Montpellier)
80 goals - Barys Pukhouski (Zaporopzhye)
78 goals - Andy Schmid (Rhein-Neckar Löwen)
75 goals - Anders Eggert (Skjern)
73 goals - Zlatko Horvat (Zagreb)

Top scorers still in competition:

80 goals - Barys Pukhouski (Zaporopzhye)
78 goals - Andy Schmid (Rhein-Neckar Löwen)
73 goals - Zlatko Horvat (Zagreb)
67 goals - Alex Dujshebaev (Kielce)
66 goals - Kiril Lazarov (Nantes)

Author: Björn Pazen / ew