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11.06.2015, 17:40
National champions of Europe - men part 2: South West
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FEATURE: Review of the men's national leagues in Europe. The second part of the series takes a closer look at France, Spain, Switzerland, Italy and Malta.

»EHF CL Channel »2014-15 Men's News
»
 

National champions of Europe - men part 2: South West

The domestic leagues have come to an end and we now approach the draws of the 2015/16 European season, starting with the Men's EHF Champions League draw on 26 June. In six parts, the spotlight is shone on each of the national champions and their path to glory. The first part is dedicated to teams from France, Spain, Switzerland, Italy and Malta.

France – Paris Saint-Germain Handball

Just like last season, it was a close call - but this time the French champions come from Paris. Despite trailing behind Montpellier for most of the season, the team led by Danish back court star Mikkel Hansen took the lead - thanks to an away victory over their rivals in the final stretch.

Montpellier’s defeat against Chambéry then opened the floor for PSG to gain their second league title in three years. The Parisians proved to be the superior side in direct confrontations having recorded a huge victory in the first encounter against Montpellier, winning 36:20.

Spain - FC Barcelona

For the fifth time in a row FC Barcelona win the Spanish league – their 22nd in club history. The Catalans dominated the Spanish League winning all 30 matches and leaving the runners-up Naturhouse La Rioja 12 points behind.

Succeeding in every competition they played – the Catalan Supercup, the Spanish Supercup, the Asobal Cup, the Superglobe, the Asobal League, Copa del Rey and the VELUX EHF Champions League - this season has been perfect for FC Barcelona.

Moreover, Xavi Pascual’s team overcome its scorer record with 1187 goals in 30 games this season, with Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson leading the topscorer ranking with 126 goals. The next record that the Catalans could beat is the 67 consecutive wins by Ciudad Real.

Portugal - Porto

Porto won the Portuguese Andebol League in a thrilling final match against Sporting. After two extra-time periods, Porto won the championship and became the first Portuguese team to win a seventh title in a row.

Porto finished the regular season on the first place, four points beyond Sporting. In the Playoffs, the team in white and blue qualified without problems for the final, eliminating Passos M. in the quarter-final (2:0) and Benfica in the semi-final (3:0).

The final seemed to be easy for Porto as they won the first two games in Dragao Caixa, 36:33 and 29:20. But their opponents took advantage of playing at home and pushed the decision to the final fifth play-off match.

The spectators in the sold-out Dragao Caixa, got to see an exciting match. The Dragons couldn’t maintain a five-goal lead, giving Sporting the chance to comeback and tie with an amazing nine meters throw, when time had already ran out.

The second extra-time decided the match and the championship. With a 34:32 win Porto claimed their 20th national league title.

Switzerland - Kadetten Schaffhausen

After missing out on the cup final due to a semi-final-defeat against eventual winners Pfadi Winterthur, Kadetten Schaffhausen struck back with the league win.

The team of head coach Markus Baur that finished second in the regular season, was fully focussed on the final series as they wanted to make good for some weak performances in the play-offs winning only three out of ten matches.

In both best-of-five-series in the semi-finals against Otmar St. Gallen (31:13, 26:25, 37:22) and the finals against Wacker Thun (29:24, 27:19, 30:28), Kadetten only needed three matches to win their eighth title in Switzerland.

"This season was a roller coaster ride for us. We missed out on qualifying for the Last 16 of the VELUX EHF Champions League and also on defending the Swiss cup title, but in the end we managed to come out on top of the league and secured a spot in the Champions League again," said manager Gabor Vass.

The signing of Hungarian playmaker Gabor Csaszar from Paris St. Germain proved to be the key for Schaffhausen to take the wins.
In the upcoming season Austrian national team goalkeeper Nikola Marinovic and Swiss top talent Luka Marros will strenghthen the Swiss champions, replacing goalkeeper Jonas Maier and line player Anton Mansson, who will leave the club.

Italy - SSV Bozen

Bozen is back. The team coached by the historic left wing of the Italian National team, Alessandro Fusina, won the Italian Championship for the third time in its history, beating the reigning champions of the Junior Fasano in a thrilling final series.

Bozen played a perfect season, winning 15 of 16 matches in the regular season, confirming its position as best attack (535 goals) and best defence (374 goals) in the league. The team later got another six victories from six matches during the second phase and qualified for the semi-finals, where they eliminated Romagna.

The final series against Junior Fasano proved to be thrilling and attracted more than 4,000 fans. The defending champions won 26:24 in front of their spectators, but Bozen bounced back with a 23:21 win at home and won the title by virtue of fewer goals conceded away.
 

In addition to the Italian title, Bozen completed a perfect season by winning the third Italian Cup in its history, in February after the final against Pressano. The stars of the National Italian, Demis Radovcic, who scored 155 goals this year, Dean Turkovic and Mario Sporcic were among the principal catalysts of this formidable season.

Malta - La Salle

Champions La Salle Rivareno retained their crown as they won their fourth consecutive league title, their eighth title in history and achieving an unprecedented record.

Playing against Swieqi Phoenix Menrad, La Salle needed only a point to win the league. Despite a much improved Swieqi side, La Salle dictated matters from start to finish and obtained the much needed win that puts them in the MHA record breaking history books.

Player of the match and Captain Andrew Said was presented the league trophy by MHA president Louis Borg after the match as La Salle celebrated their 15th domestic trophy in a row, smashing another Maltese record. Aloysians Von Taine ended the season in second place after beating Luxol in the final day of the season.


TEXT: Adria Barrio, Kevin Domas, Björn Pazen, Luke Zammit, Matteo Aldamonte / me / cor
 
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