Björn Pazen

Hamburg win “Eurotournoi”

HSV Hamburg won the 16th edition of the top quality “Eurtournoi” tournament in Strasbourg, France. The Germans, CL semi-finalist in the last two seasons, have beaten French champion HB Montpellier in a tense final by 29:26 (14:13).

The Russian champion Chechovski Medvedi ranked third after beating Danish club Silkeborg in the bronze game. Rhein Neckar Löwen won against the French runner-up Chambery in the 5/6 match. Top scorer of the tournament was Uwe Gensheimer (Löwen) with 27 goals from three matches.

More than 5,000 spectators in the Rhenus Arena saw a quick and high quality final between two top clubs of Europe. Montpellier, led by former Kiel player Nikola Karabatic (eight goals) caught up with Hamburg, though HSV were leading 14:13 at the break.

Even as HSV keeper Johannes Bitter improved, Montpelier took the lead at 21:19 in the 42nd minute, but then the Lijewski brothers and right winger Hans Lindbergh turned the final in the last minutes.

Attended by former world class players, Jackson Richardson and Andrey Lavrov, HSV captain Guillaume Gille received the winner’s trophy.

The HSV success was well deserved as Hamburg and Montpellier showed the best performances of all participants. In the preliminary round HSV have beaten Chambery and Silkeborg clearly. Montpellier had to fight hard against Chechovski Medvedi, but then they overran the “Löwen” in the second match.

Chekhov was the positive surprise in Strasbourg. The Russians played well, their tall defence stood like a wall and Sergey Shelmenko (former Löwen player) replaced Konstantin Igropoulo (now Barcelona) very efficiently.

“Playing like this, Chekhov are one of the best candidates for a place in the Champions League Final Four,” Hamburg coach Martin Schwalb praised them. The HSV coach cannot count on his top players, Pascal Hens and Bertrand Gille (both suffering from hamstring operations). They will be out for the next month including the start of the Champions League season opener.

“Löwen” still have a lot of work ahead, especially in the timing of their offence. New top player Olafur Stefansson has to be integrated in the team, and the new pivot duo Prieto/Myrhol has to improve in defence.

“We have to be patient as we have a lot of new players. After losing two games it was very important to win the last match for our self confidence. We have great individuals, but we have to become a team,” Löwen coach Ola Lindgren summed it up.

And one of his players only had short time to rest and celebrate: only 48 hours after becoming Junior World Champion in Cairo with Germany, right wing Patrick Groetzki played for the Löwen in Strasbourg.

“It’s great joy to be back with the team. I’m even more eager to play with them rather than the tired,” Groetzki said. The best player of Silkeborg was pivot Milutin Dragicevic who will move to THW Kiel in 2010.

Results: Preliminary round, group 1: Rhein Neckar Löwen – Chechov 29:32 (15:17), Chechov – Montpellier 34:35 (20:14), Löwen – Montpellier 28:39 (16:18), Group 2: Hamburg – Chambery 31:29 (16:16), Hamburg – Silkeborg 35:30 (18:15), Silkeborg – Chambery 30:27 (16:13)

Placement matches: 5/6: Löwen – Chambery 35:26 (16:12), 3/4: Chechov – Silkeborg 30:28 (13:15), final: Hamburg – Montpellier 29:26 (14:13)

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