QUARTER-FINAL PREVIEW: Saint-Raphael welcome Chambery for the first leg of the quarter-finals on Sunday evening.
All-French quarter-final on an equal footing
When the draw result was known, Joël Da Silva, Saint-Raphaël Var Handball's coach, was one frustrated person. "This is the worst scenario we could get," he said. "Playing against a French team isn't exactly what we wanted, we'd rather have played against a foreign one because this is what we play the EHF Cup for."
In a way, you can understand his reaction, since Chambéry Savoie Handball and Saint-Raphaël will meet each other three times in the next weeks. Once in the French league and twice in the EHF Cup.
Saint-Raphael Var Handball (FRA) vs Chambery Savoie Handball (FRA)
When the two teams shared the court earlier this season, the game ended in a 24:24 draw. "This was a tough game in defense, one where the goalkeepers were the best players of their respective teams," said Edin Basic, Chambery's centre back.
Now, he thinks that "both teams are competing for a EHF Cup Finals ticket and this is a completely new competition. We know that Saint-Raphaël's got the capacity to win on our court, so we'll need to be a 100% focused. The home court advantage will mean something if we manage to come back from Saint-Raphaël with a good result."
Geoffroy Krantz, centre back of Saint-Raphael, has the experience of winning the EHF Cup from back in 2009 with VfL Gummersbach, but he thinks that his team as a whole needs to learn quick in order to make it to the Finals.
"We lost too many points at home during the group phase, but we still managed to get through. Now, a whole new stage of the competition is beginning and it's time to show we've learnt our lessons," the Saint-Raphaël back player says, pointing out the experience as the main key of the confrontation.
Half of Chambéry's roster was in the Champions League in the 2012/13 season and know what it takes to win decisive games.
For the opponents, Alexandru Simicu is the experienced one who has already been to the EHF Cup Finals twice, in 2014 with HCM Constanta (alongside teammate Mihai Popescu) when they lost the semi-final against Montpellier HB and in 2015, losing the final with HSV Hamburg against Füchse Berlin.
TEXT: Kevin Domas / es
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