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01.11.2018, 17:20
Guigou back in time for decisive games
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FEATURE: Montpellier stalwart Michael Guigou is set to return to the Champions League court this weekend. ehfCL.com caught up with the French star to find out what he thinks of the title holders’ season so far and talk about his recovery from injury
 

Guigou back in time for decisive games

The last time Michael Guigou stepped on a VELUX EHF Champions League court, it was in May, and the setting was quite special. It was the VELUX EHF FINAL4 and his team, Montpellier, won the trophy for the second time in history. It was also the iconic left wing’s second victory in the competition.

Guigou had to undergo surgery to clean up his knee joint in July and has been watching his team in the stands since then. And while his teammates were going through hard times in the competition, he could only stand and rage on the sideline.

“It’s been a long time since I was injured, that’s not something I missed. It’s tough being in the stands and watching things from far away. The hardest part is when you think you’re ready, maybe you could come back, but you still can’t. It’s so frustrating,” says the 36-year-old.

Guigou also says that the first signs are good. He played his first game back last week in a friendly match against Argentina, then followed that with 25 minutes in a French Cup clash. While the wing has yet to return to his full strength, he is ready to help the team.

“The first games back are always special. Especially since I’ve undergone surgery on the bottom of my body, I’m still missing my ability to change rhythm. You don’t come back from such an injury with just a finger click. But overall, the feelings are good,” he smiles. And they will have to be, as Mathieu Grébille is not travelling with the team this weekend, being on the verge of welcoming his first child.

In the meantime, team coach Patrice Canayer chose to give the position of captain to Valentin Porte, after Guigou wore the armband for almost a decade. While both players do not want to make too much fuss about it, it might be a sign that things have been changing in Montpellier lately. Still, the two-time Champions League winner did not take offence and, despite not being able to join them on the court, Guigou tried to help his team: “I focused, I tried to help the team the best I could. When you see them struggle, the only thing you want to do is to join them. So I tried to talk a little bit, be present if they needed.”

What the former captain saw, in the Champions League, was a team unsure of itself, despite wearing the reigning champion crown. It was always going to be a difficult season for Montpellier – the first one in the A and B groups, with much tougher opponents. But the negative spiral in the Champions League seems to continue, as the French side display a lack of confidence one would have never suspected watching last season’s FINAL4.

“A small lack of confidence, of experience; sometimes too much haste. You could see our hands shaking at times. We don’t play at our full potential. We have to develop those small details to turn the one-goal defeats into wins,” says Guigou, who has now fully recovered and is ready for battle.

And battle there will be this weekend in the Champions League, with Montpellier visiting Kristianstad. Both teams have yet to snatch a point in the competition and, in order not to fall too far behind in the race to qualify for the Last 16, the two sides are eager to claim the two points.

“It’s already a decisive game. For the time being, we have to compare ourselves to Brest. We played three home games, lost them all and lost in Brest too. Those four games – we thought that maybe we could win some of them,” concludes Guigou, pointing out that the last time his team travelled to Sweden, they could only manage a one-goal win. “Even before we started the competition, we knew that we would have to win against Kristianstad, and these games are even more important now. Anything other than a win could jeopardise our qualification.”


TEXT: Kevin Domas / cg
 
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