Metz aiming for top table again
Until last season, Metz Handball had been the only French side to ever reach the DELO EHF FINAL4, when they managed it in 2019. But Brest matched this performance last season, after beating their fellow French team in the quarter-finals. Can Metz regain domestic superiority and make it to Budapest for a second time?
- this season will be their 23 in the EHF Champions League, making them the leaders among all French teams that have taken part in the competition
- they made it to the quarter-finals last season, before being eliminated by fellow French side Brest
- Unlike the previous summers, Metz managed to keep their most important players, meaning that Meline Nocandy, Orlane Kanor and Louise Burgaard will be on the starting grid with the team in September
- 10 players left the club this summer while only three joined, however, those three look like potential key players
Most important question: Three new players, 10 leaving the club, how can Metz cope?
Covid-19 has had an undeniable effect on the club’s financial position, and it became clear that the professional squad had to be diminished.
Metz made the effort to keep their most important players, with Orlane Kanor, Méline Nocandy and Louise Burgaard, among those signing a new contract. They will be helped by young players from the club’s handball school, while Manon Houette and Marie-Hélène Sajka are among those to leave the club.
Coach Manu Mayonnade will be able to count on three new national players, with Chloé Valentini, Tamara Horacek and Bruna de Paula all joining the club.
Under the spotlight: Chloé Valentini
The 26-year-old left wing left Besançon this summer for the first time in her career. While she has been a sensation with the French national team, winning silver at the last EHF EURO and gold at the Olympics, she has yet to play her first EHF Champions League game. At Metz, she will be able to step to yet another level, and with the qualities she has displayed with France lately, there are good chances she might become one of the rising stars of the competition.
How they rate themselves
Metz reached the quarter-finals stage in Europe in the last five seasons, making it once to the EHF FINAL4, in 2019.
“We want to the return to the FINAL4, which was an exceptional experience,” says president Thierry Weizman, before boasting the reasons why playing the competition every year is so important for his club.
“It is a reward for the players and playing the Champions League is fundamental. It makes our club one of the best clubs in the world and it helps us recruiting players because the best players in the world want to play the Champions League.”
What the numbers say
23 participations in the Champions League, Metz will be the third most experienced club to play the competition this season. If the players do not have individual experience, they are massively helped every season by the collective experience, one of a club that knows exactly to play among the best in Europe.
Arrivals and departures
Arrivals: Chloé Valentini (Besançon), Bruna De Paula (Nantes), Tamara Horacek (Siófok KC)
Departures: Daphné Gautschi (Neckarsulmer Sport-Union), Manon Houette (Bourg de Péage), Tjasa Stanko (RK Krim Mercator), Dinah Eckerle (Team Esbjerg), Marie-Hélène Sajka (Paris 92), Maud-Eva Copy (Noisy-le-Grand), Ailly Luciano (Retirement), Yvette Broch (CSM Bucuresti), Julie Le Blévec (Fleury), Audrey Dembélé (Besançon)
EHF Champions League
Participations (including 2021/22 season): 23
Semi-finals (1): 2018/19
Quarter-finals (3): 2016/17, 2017/18, 2019/20, 2020/21
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)