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20.10.2017, 12:10
Houette: “Metz are taken more seriously now”
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FEATURE: New Metz arrival sees the winning feeling within the squad which is considered as a serious contender in this season's Women's EHF Champions League
 

Houette: “Metz are taken more seriously now”

With nine wins from nine matches, it has been the perfect season so far for Metz Handball. Alongside seven domestic wins, the French champions have collected maximum points in the Women’s EHF Champions League against Vipers Kristiansand and SG BBM Bietigheim.

Nevertheless, left wing Manon Houette does not want to come across too enthusiastic: “I think that what we all like the most is that we have gradually been playing better.

“We struggled a bit in the first few league games but we managed to play well enough when the Champions League began.”

Although some victories have been tougher to come by than others, serenity has been the key word in Metz. No panic, no fuss and a win at the end has been the mantra.

In her first season back in France after a one-season sojourn at Thüringer HC, Houette can feel a winning routine in her new team.

“There's a lot of experience with winning in this team, most of the girls have been playing together for a long time and while there could have been a huge disappointment after the quarter-final loss last season, it feels like everybody has taken a step back and only retained the positives from it,” she explains.

Belonging among the elite

This quarter-final participation last season was the peak of the recent European history of the club and although Györ finally reached and won the Women’s EHF FINAL4, there is a unanimous feeling that Metz have taken a step forward.

“I was reading, the other day, some story before the Brest vs Györ game on a foreign website which said you should take notice of French clubs. Metz becoming one of the eight best European teams last season clearly made an impression on everybody.

“Same thing goes for the wins against Buducnost, Vardar and Györ. In the past you could tell there was a good team, but that you did not quite know what to expect.

“But the Champions League routine and the results coming with it have changed this impression. Nobody comes to Metz certain of winning anymore and we are definitely taken more seriously now,” says the 25-year-old.

Lessons learned

Could this new perception go hand in hand with a French team reaching the Women’s EHF FINAL4 for the first time?

Houette has taken part in Europe’s top flight with three different teams, but has yet to reach Budapest and refuses to look that far ahead.

“It is so far away that it would be silly to start talking about it now. Of course, we would like to go but so many things can happen between now and then,” she says, before adding that last year’s experience may help the team get on the plane to Hungary.

“I know that one point can make a difference when comes to the quarter-final ties, that is what everybody learns. We have got to focus on the group matches, try to make it to the main round with as many points as possible, then see where we are in January,”

Buducnost are a side which will certainly be taking Metz seriously, following their three-goal defeat the last time they visited ‘Les Arènes’ in 2016.

The Montenegrin club suffered a tough loss last weekend in Norway, but, according to Houette, that does not reflect their true level.

“In my opinion, they were surprised, but they are a lot better than that. We have to be even more cautious, because they will come to France looking to avenge that defeat,” expects Houette, who shares an accurate opinion on her next opponents.

“Although they have lost their two stars from last season, I do not think they have lost anything. Their young players are really talented and they live for handball,” concludes the Metz wing, who will face Buducnost on Saturday 21 October at 17:30 CEST on ehfTV.


TEXT: Kevin Domas / cor
 
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