Metz aiming for top spots again
After reaching the DELO EHF FINAL4 in 2019, Metz Handball were in a good position to feature among the four best teams on the continent again last season. Despite changing many players this summer, the quality is still there. Will the results follow?
- Metz have qualified for the EHF Champions League for the 22nd time, making them the leaders among all French teams that have taken part in the competition
- last season, the French side qualified for the quarter-finals, after losing only two games in their whole Champions League campaign
- after playing the DELO EHF FINAL4 in 2019, Metz now aim to reach the event every year
- four major players left Metz this summer, including captain Grace Zaadi (Rostov), EHF EURO 2018 winner Laura Glauser (Györ) and right wing Laura Flippes (Paris)
- Champions League 2019/20 All-star Team best coach Emmanuel Mayonnade has brought Dutch national player Debbie Bont and Champions League 2017/18 best young player Tjasa Stanko to the club
Most important question: How can Metz cope with so many important players leaving the club this season?
Metz are now used to seeing their best players leave the club in the summer. Beatrice Edwige and Ana Gros were both key elements who left during the last two summer breaks, but the team were able to find solutions to replace them.
No doubt Mayonnade already has a plan to make up for the loss of three EHF EURO 2018 winners with France: Laura Glauser, Laura Flippes and captain Grace Zaadi. He chose young, up-and-coming stars, like Melvine Deba and Stanko, and do not forget that local talents Meline Nocandy and Orlane Kanor are still there.
Judging by the names on the roster, this Metz team will remain among the high-profile contenders in this season’s competition.
Under the spotlight: Meline Nocandy
In her second proper season in the Champions League, the young centre back confirmed everything that had been said about her, especially that she was strong enough to carry the weight of the team. And her first games with France were further proof of her abilities.
Without Zaadi around, Mayonnade will give Nocandy the keys to the Metz castle – another step that she should climb as easily as the previous ones.
How they rate themselves
Club president Thierry Weizman is setting the bar high for the team. “Our aim for this competition is to do better than in previous years,” he says, delighted to be back as one of the best teams on the continent.
Although Metz always put themselves as outsiders, they almost always end up among the favourites.
What the numbers say
Only five current Metz players have already taken part in an international game with France, which is by far the smallest number in a long time. That does not take away any quality from the team, but it means that Mayonnade will have to rely a little bit more on foreign talents in 2020/21.
Newcomers and left the club
Newcomers: Tsaja Stanko (Podravka Koprivnica), Debbie Bont (København Handball), Melvine Deba (Paris 92), Hatadou Sako (OGC Nice), Camila Micijevic (Dunaújvárosi Kohász KA), Maud-Eva Copy (Bourg-de-Peage)
Left the club: Laura Glauser (Györi Audi ETO KC), Xenia Smits (SG BBM Bietigheim), Grace Zaadi (Rostov-Don), Marion Maubon (Nantes Atlantique Handball), Martine Smeets (CSM Bucuresti), Laura Flippes (Paris 92), Jurswailly Luciano (retired)
- EHF Champions League
Participations (including 2020/21 season): 22
Semi-finals (1): 2018/19
Quarter-finals (3): 2016/17, 2017/18, 2019/20
Main round (2): 2011/12, 2014/15
Last 16 (2): 1994/95, 1995/96
Group matches (8): 1996/97, 1997/98, 1999/00, 2000/01, 2002/03, 2008/09, 2009/10, 2013/14
Qualification (5): 1993/94, 2004/05, 2005/06, 2006/07, 2007/08
French league: 23 titles (1989, 1990, 1993-1997, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2004-2009, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2016-19)
French Cup: 9 titles (1990, 1994, 1998, 1999, 2010, 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019)