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01.02.2019, 10:40
First all-French clash: Ana Gros talks about Brest vs Metz
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FEATURE: After moving from the French champions to the contenders Brest Bretagne last summer, the Champions League top scorer hopes her new club can take some important points this weekend
 

First all-French clash: Ana Gros talks about Brest vs Metz

Never before have two French clubs faced each other in the EHF Women Champions League. For that reason, Saturday will be something special in the land of the reigning European and world champions, as Brest Bretagne Handball are set to host Metz Handball. 

France still wait for one of their sides to make it to the top of the elite women’s club competition. Metz Handball, who have dominated the national league over the last seasons, came close last year, reaching the quarter-finals. 

Metz are one of the teams in the spotlight again this season and are definitely the favourites in the all-French clash this weekend, considering their Division 1 meeting in the last days of 2018. That encounter saw a 15-goal difference against Brest, who had been in serious injury trouble. 

“The game starts even. They will have to prove they are better on the court,” says EHF Champions League top scorer Ana Gros, who has contributed 51 goals for Brest this season. Over the summer, the Slovenian international moved from Metz to Brest – from the champions to the contenders. 

“Metz handball is very strong in defence. Nobody was able to score more than 26 goals against them this season – nether have we. One has to play very patient, not losing the ball easily, and try to do the same job defending, hoping for some easy goals from fast breaks and definitely fight every minute,” says Gros regarding Brest’s chances to secure two points in the somewhat historic match. She knows the Metz players and they know her. Will she have an advantage?

“Of course not,” Gros smiles. “When Slovenia played France this winter, they were all over me. The French girls knew exactly what they were doing. It is not an individual sport – we will have to have an excellent team effort, and then I could possibly take some chances.”

“People love handball here and they deserve victories”

After seven years, Brest Bretagne Handball are aiming to become French champion again. It would be their second national trophy – far from the full cabinet at Metz. Brest are patient, and the regional and city full support is there. If not this year, maybe next, and the same goes in Europe. 

“Our goal this season was to reach the main round, despite the huge injury trouble we had. It affected the team. We left a lot of points behind and had to change a lot of things in our game. Here we are now. We want to grab as much as possible, with no pressure.”

Gros left Metz after winning her third consecutive French championship. She had also been crowned the Champions League All-star right back and was looking for new challenges.

“Metz gave me a lot of course, and I'm sure the club will eventually become even the Champions League winner. But I needed the change and Brest also have big goals. As I said before, if not this year, maybe we will do it next.”

Gros speaks of both French clubs with great respect.

“Historically, there is no doubt. Metz Handball is the most successful French side. But all the other features, like the organisation of the club, the fans and the support to the players, are at least equal, if not even better here,” says Gros. 

“Brest Arena is often packed for the best matches. People love handball here and they deserve victories. We would like to offer them that present, and I know that for both, the win on Saturday would be somehow of different value than the others in the main round.” 

Metz Handball have the potential to win Group 1, as they are now second together with Rostov-Don, trailing Buducnost by one point. Brest Bretagne are at the bottom of the table, five points behind their domestic competitors. Last week, despite Gros topping the statistical chart with seven goals, they lost to Odense away in Denmark. But Gros will be hard to stop with the additional motive this Saturday.  


TEXT: Uros Volk / cg
 
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