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10.09.2012, 19:44
Trophée des Champions: Fall of the reigning champion
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Both French participants of the VELUX EHF Champions League failed to live up to expectations at the tournament.
 

Trophée des Champions: Fall of the reigning champion

Top four teams of the French League meet every year at a season-opening tournament called Trophée des Champions. The third edition of the event in Monaco saw some unexpected turns last weekend as both French representatives of the VELUX EHF Champions League collapsed and the substitute from Dunkerque became an unlikely new holder of the trophy.

Since the third club, St Raphaël was hosting the VELUX EHF Champions League Wild Card tournament, US Dunkerque HB had to jump in and face the reigning champion from Montpellier. The "substitute" grasped the chance and surprisingly got the champions from Montpellier under pressure in the semi-final.

The favourite who had eight of his players recruited by the Qatari club Al-Saad at Doha in the IHF Super Globe a week ago never seemed to be able to win the semi-final against the underdogs. Their defense left Dunkerque’s long distance shooters with too much space while in attack only Nikola Karabatic (7 goals) and Dragan Gajić (13 goals) found their way through the "Nordist" defense. Despite a desperate comeback in the last 10 minutes, Montpellier lost 29:32.

On the second day William Accambray scored nine goals and both the newcomer Erlend Mamelund and Gajić added six each as Montpellier easily beat Nantes 42:30 in the third place match.

“Dunkerque played a very good game against us and we have to give them a credit. But I am not worried, I think we need some more time to be competitive again. I think within 2 or 3 weeks we should find a better rhythm.” said coach of Montpellier Patrice Canayer for domestic media.

In the second semi-final, Chambéry struggled to beat Nantes 29:26. The participant of the new EHF Cup profited mainly from four Spanish players led by a new captain Alberto Entrerrios (7 goals), but Chambéry could rely on their powerful left back Edin Basić (9 goals) and their new weapon - the “Gille” defense of brothers Guillaume, Bertrand and Benjamin to keep their opponents 3 goals behind.

In the final Basić scored 13 more goals and Chambéry rallied to equalize 6 minutes before the end and forced the penalty shoot-out (22:22). However, the Dunkerque’s goalkeeper Vincent Gérard stopped two attempts and sealed the victory for his team (26:25). Just one year after Dunkerque won the French Cup under the same circumstances (penalty shootout against Chambéry) they added the Trophée des Champions for the very first time.“Yesterday Panic and N’Guessan, our youngest players brought a lot to the team, today they were less powerful and it made the difference.” said coach of Chambéry Mario Cavalli whose club had to settle for a runner-up position for the third time in a row.

In the new season of the VELUX EHF Champions League Chambéry will play in the Group C with Bjerringbro-Silkeborg (DEN), Gorenje Velenje (SLO), Vive Targi Kielce (POL), HC St. Petersburg (RUS) and Metalurg Skopje (MKD) whereas Montpellier is in the Group A with Chekhovskie Medvedi (RUS), Reale Ademar Leon (ESP), SG Flensburg-Handewitt (GER), HSV Hamburg (GER) and Partizan Beograd (SRB).

Further information

Find more information on VELUX Champions League HERE.

Join the growing community of handball fans on Facebook!
www.facebook.com/ehf.champions.league


TEXT: Nicolas Ercolano
 
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