Hosts aim to end Nantes' dream season
Fans might not be allowed in Lascar Pana Arena, but all of Baia Mare will tremble with emotion for their local side, as the city hosts the first-ever EHF Finals Women.
In the opening semi-final on Saturday, the Romanian side — who never lost on the home court this season — host Nantes Atlantique Handball, a French side who have dazzled their opponents with speed and aggressive defence and have already secured their best-ever result in European competitions.
Nantes Atlantique Handball (FRA) vs CS Minaur Baia Mare (ROU)
Saturday 8 May, 14:45 CEST, live on EHFTV
- in their eighth European season, Baia Mare play a semi-final for the second time, after losing the Women’s Challenge Cup final in 2003 against BV Borussia 09 Dortmund
- Nantes are in their fifth European season, with their previous best result the quarter-final of the Women’s EHF Cup in the 2016/17 season
- Baia Mare have players of six different nationalities in their squad, while Nantes boast players from seven different countries in their roster
- the Romanian side reached the EHF Finals after winning seven of their eight games, including five on their home court where the business end of the inaugural EHF European League Women will take place
- on the other side, Nantes are riding a six-game winning streak, with an average margin of 4.5 goals
- Nantes centre back Bruna De Paula comes into the EHF Finals Women with 54 goals in her season tally, starting in the qualification rounds
- Baia Mare’s top scorer is Serbian left back Jovana Kovacevic, who scored 42 goals in the six games she played for an outstanding average of seven goals per match
- Nantes coach Guillaume Saurina played for Romanian side CSM Bucuresti between 2016 and October 2017, while his wife, Nantes player Camille Ayglon, spent two seasons (2016-18) with the women’s team of CSM Bucuresti
- Baia Mare have mixed results against French sides, winning three games, against Fleury Loiret and Merignacais, and losing twice versus Metz Handball and once to Merignacais
- Baia Mare have won eight of their last nine European home games; however, due to the current health situation, they will have to do without the support of their fans from the stands of Sala Polivalenta Lascar Pana during the EHF Finals
- after suffering a season-ending knee injury against Gloria Bistrita in the Romanian league on Wednesday, right back Jelena Lavko will miss the tournament in Baia Mare, forcing the Romanian side to scramble for solutions on that position