Men’s Champions League Power rankings: Selby ranks the teams

The play-offs and quarter-finals of the Men’s Champions League are almost here. Ola Selby of GoHandball ranks the 12 teams.

Power rankings are our ranking of which of the teams have been the hottest so far. A team that has lost one game can be considered a better team than a team that has gone undefeated. It’s all about the quality of the teams.

Here are the Power rankings – Ola Selby’s ranking of the play-offs, and quarter-finals teams in the Men’s Champions League. And by the way, here are the play-offs match-ups:

Orlen Wisla Plock – Paris Saint-Germain

PICK Szeged – Telekom Veszprem

GOG Håndbold – Industria Kielce

HC Zagreb – Montpellier HB

1: SC Magdeburg

Group phase: 12 wins, 2 losses.

Felix Claar. Photo (archive): Super Globe Media Team

In my opinion, there are 3 teams that have what it takes to win the Champions League this season, and Magdeburg is one of them. They only lost 2 games during the group phase and both of those losses came against the 2 other top teams: Barca and Veszprem.

But other than that Magdeburg won all the games they played, including beating Barca and Veszprem. And it’s important to remember that Magdeburg’s losses came in the first 2 rounds. After that – 12 straight wins for Bennet Wiegert’s team.

It looks like Magdeburg can retain the trophy from last year. The team is better this year and with the addition of Felix Claar, they have another masterpiece in the squad. A small question mark regarding the goalkeepers but what does it matter if the team scores over 35 goals game after game?

2: Barca

Group phase: 11 wins, 3 losses.

Dika Mem of France. Photo: Emma Wallskog / BILDBYRÅN

Barca lost the last 2 games of the group phase (against Magdeburg away and Montpellier at home) but before that only had 1 loss in 10 games (against Veszprem at home).

A lot of players stand out in this team. Duh! But 2 players have been outstanding: Emil Nielsen in goal and the one and only Dika Mem. Nielsen has the best save percentage of all goalkeepers who have had a decent amount of shots against them. Mem has scored 83 goals.

Barca can win it all again this year, but they are not the clear favorites.

3: Telekom Veszprem

Group phase: 10 wins, 4 losses.

Ludovic Fabregas of France. Photo: Johanna Lundberg / BILDBYRÅN

The third team that possesses the ability to win the Champions League this season is Veszprem. Sure, they lost 4 games during the group phase and maybe Magdeburg and Barca are slightly better, but to say that Veszprem lacks the ability to win it all would be blasphemous.

If you have players like Ludovic Fabregas, Nedim Remili, and Rodrigo Corrales in your team, everything is possible. And Momir Ilic manages a team without real weaknesses. Veszprem are, like they always are, in it to win it.

4: Aalborg Håndbold

Group phase: 8 wins, 3 draws, 3 losses.

Niklas Landin. Photo: Aalborg Håndbold.

Am I a bit negative when it comes to Aalborg, claiming that they won’t be able to win the Champions League this year? They have Niklas Landin and Mikkel Hansen on the team, 2 players who always perform their best at the biggest stages.

But yeah, the squad in Aalborg is just not as great as the top 3 teams. However, the resurgence of Lukas Nilsson has been a sight to behold. And Mads Hoxer is on his way to becoming a top player in the world (he has already scored 69 goals in the competition this season).

Aalborg can make it to the Final Four, but they are not a lock to do so.

5: THW Kiel

Group phase: 10 wins, 2 draws, 2 losses.

Domagoj Duvnjak, THW Kiel. Photo:

Speaking of being a bit negative. Kiel won their group ahead of teams like Aalborg, PSG, and Kielce. And yet, I rank 4 teams ahead of them in my Power rankings. Why? To start, the teams above them have better goalkeepers.

And Kiel simply hasn’t been that reliable this season. When they play at their best they are amazing. But then 2 or 3 games can go by when you are watching them and wondering what the hell is going on. And that for me does it. Kiel can’t be trusted this season.

6: Paris Saint-Germain

Group phase: 8 wins, 1 draw, 5 losses.

Luc Steins of the Netherlands. Photo: Ludvig Thunman / BILDBYRÅN

Paris Saint-Germain lost 5 games during the group phase. 5! That is not good enough for a team with that high ambitions. But then again, PSG are not the team they were a few years ago. A great team yes, but not as star-studded.

Luc Steins is still the top ankle-breaker in the world and Elohim Prandi is a powerful left back. At pivot Kamil Syprzak scores at will and in goal they have two experienced gentlemen in Andreas Palicka and Jannick Green.

But placing them at 6 was not a hard decision. Aalborg, Kiel, PSG, and Kielce all have the potential to join the top 3 teams in the Final Four.

7: Industria Kielce

Group phase: 6 wins, 4 draws, 4 losses.

Talant Dujsjebaev. Photo: Anders Bjurö / BILDBYRÅN

Another team that is tough to analyze this season. At their best they are incredible. But Kielce only won 6 games in the group phase, and that is not something we are used to seeing. Sure, they have had bad luck with injuries, but we have to expect more from this team.

Can Talant Dujshebaev do it again? Can his sons carry this team to another Final Four? I doubt it. Not this season. Maybe if Andreas Wolff is the big bad wolf in goal again. But a top 4 spot seems a bit far away at the moment for the Polish powerhouse.

8: Montpellier HB

Group phase: 7 wins, 7 losses.

Charles Bolzinger. Photo: Montpellier HB.

Perhaps the most entertaining team to watch in the Champions League this season. And in an entertaining squad Bryan Monte is probably the most entertaining player to watch of them all. The Brazilian can do it all, which he no doubt showed in the last game of the group phase against Barcelona.

But the Brazilian is not alone in this team. Sebastian Karlsson has been a revelation for all handball fans outside of Sweden and at the other wing fellow Swede Lucas Pellas has filled the large shoes of Hugo Descat with no problem at all.

And Montpellier has themselves a great goalkeeper duo as well in French nationals Remi Desbonnet and Charles Bolzinger. With a little bit of luck, this team can surprise a lot of people.

9: GOG Håndbold

Group phase: 6 wins, 1 draw, 7 losses.

Tobias Thulin, GOG. Photo: © Lau Nielsen.

Gone are the days when Mathias Gidsel, Simon Pytlick, and Lukas Jörgensen for that matter, caused chaos in European handball playing for GOG. The Danes still have a great team, but it’s no longer Nicolej Krickau who’s the coach and the turmoil at the start of the season seems to have taken its toll on the team.

This is a team that consists of a few top players that do most of the damage for GOG. Tobias Thulin has more saves than any other goalkeeper in the tournament and he will leave a big room behind when he departs for PICK Szeged next season. The other 2 players are Emil Madsen (the leading goalscorer of the competition with his 90 goals) and Aaron Mensing.

GOG can defeat Kielce but it’s more likely that their Europa adventure ends in the play-offs.

10: PICK Szeged

Group phase: 6 wins, 1 draw, 7 losses.

Bence Banhidi of Hungary. Photo: Mathias Bergeld / BILDBYRÅN

It’s not the same PICK Szeged as it was a few years ago. Don’t get me wrong, there are still quality players at every position, but maybe a bit aged stars, at least in some cases.

But then again the Hungarians are making some changes for next season, both in the team and at the bench. Can Krisztián Kárpáti achieve European success before his replacement Michael Apelgren takes over next season? Maybe.

But if Szeged are to have success this season a lot depends on the old guard: Roland Mikler, Dean Bombac, and their best player in Bence Banhidi.

11: Orlen Wisla Plock

Group phase: 5 wins, 1 draw, 8 losses.

Miha Zarabec of Slovenia. Photo: Mathias Bergeld / BILDBYRÅN

In my book, two teams are remaining in the competition that are not playing at the same level as the other teams. Those teams are Wisla Plock and HC Zagreb. It’s not that they are bad, in fact, they are among the top 12 teams in Europe this season, but it’s my opinion that there is a gap between them and my 11th-placed team in PICK Szeged.

There is however quality in this Plock team. Tin Lucin, the left back from Croatia, has scored 72 goals so far during the competition. And Miha Zarabec still has matches where he plays as a top playmaker in Europe. But that’s about it for Plock, who won’t have a chance in the play-offs against PSG.

12: HC Zagreb

Group phase: 6 wins, 2 draws, 6 losses.

Ivan Cupic. Photo: Mathias Bergeld / BILDBYRÅN

Zagreb’s campaign in the Champions League this season has been a huge step up compared to last season. Then they finished second to last in their group after only winning 3 out of 14 games. The year before that? 3 wins. 2020-21? 0 wins.

That makes this season’s 6 wins and 2 draws surprisingly great. And definitely something to be celebrated in the Croatian capital. I give them small chances, maybe around 10 percent, of defeating Montpellier in the play-offs, but a year ago continuing to play in Europe after the group phase would be unthinkable. That is progress.

Well done, Zagreb.