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28.08.2013, 15:00
Montpellier and Płock trying to redeem last season
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PREVIEW: French record champions need to climb over the high wild card hurdle Wisła Płock
 

PREVIEW: Montpellier and Płock trying to redeem last season

14 times since 1998 – with only one exception in the 2001/02 season - MAHB Montpellier qualified directly for the EHF Champions League, now the French record champions need to hope for entering the competition “through the back door” after finishing only third in the French league.

In contrast, Orlen Wisła Płock were the part of the European top flight “only” seven times – and missed the qualification in the previous season in the Wild Card tournament against eventual champions HSV Hamburg. While Montpellier missed the knock-out stage of the EHF Champions League for the first time ever in the previous season, Płock missed the quarter-finals of the EHF Cup.

But the biggest difference of both opponents are the coaches: While Patrice Canayer is responsible for the French team since more than 20 years, Płock signed fresh (and famous) blood: new Spanish national team coach Manolo Cadenas, who replaced Danish Lars Walther.

Cadenas vs Montpellier for the third time in 11 months

For Cadenas it will be the third match against Montpellier in less than eleven months as he steered Reale Ademar León to two two-goal victories last season in the Group A.

His new team are going to enter the wild card play-offs as the runners-up of the Polish league behind champions Vive Targi Kielce.

The winner of those matches will qualify for the VELUX EHF Champions League Group B and will face Kiel, Kielce, Kolding, Dunkerque and the winner of Qualification Tournament 4 (Constanta, Volendam, Elverum, Porto) .

Either two all-Polish or two all-French duels will excite the spectators in the Group Phase. The loser continues in the third qualification round of the EHF Cup.

Fresh faces in both squads

Both teams will start with new faces in those wild card matches (first leg in Montpellier, second leg in Płock). While the 2003 EHF Champions League winner signed goalkeeping legend Thierry Omeyer returning from Kiel and paired him with Arnaud Siffert from Nantes and also added Slovenian internationals Jure Dolenec and Matej Gaber and the rising Argentinian star Diego Simonet, Orlen grabbed the chance to sign two big names of Polish handball. Right back Marcin Lijewski arriving from the defending champions HSV Hamburg and Marius Jurkiewicz returning from Atlético Madrid to his home country.

“We are well prepared for those qualification matches, even as the situation is new for us – but in sport nothing is eternal,” said MAHB President Remy Levy.

“I will do everything to help Płock to make it to the Champions League,” is the ambition of Marcin Lijewski, who

Montpellier Agglomeration HB (FRA) vs. Orlen Wisła Płock (POL)
First leg: 29. August, 19:00 hrs. local time in Montpellier
Second leg: 1. September, 16:00 hrs. local time in Płock


TEXT: Björn Pazen / br
 
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