MOTW, an Entrerrios family reunion
All eyes in the handball world turn to the Palais des Sports de Beaulieu in Nantes on Thursday.
The arena will not only host the Match of the Week in round 3 of the EHF Champions League Men between HBC Nantes and Barça, it is also the place for a reunion of two of the most iconic players of Spanish handball.
Alberto Entrerrios, coach of HBC Nantes, will meet his younger brother, Raul, who wears the Barça colours.
“It will be a happy moment, as these games are the only time we can see each other,” Alberto Entrerrios says with a smile. “We are both always on the road, so we will of course take a few minutes to have a chat.”
Even though he took over as head coach of Nantes in the summer of 2019, Alberto Entrerrios still has a very accurate eye on his brother’s performances.
“He is one of the best of this Barça team, no matter what he does, he is right,” the coach says. “He is able to keep a fresh head in the decisive moments of the game, thanks to his experience, and even though Xavi Pascual coaches him more now, because he is getting older, Raul is still one of the stalwarts in Barcelona.”
Also for Raul Enterrios, the match has special meaning.
“Now I am still on the court while he is on the bench. Before that, it was even more complicated, as we were both playing against each other, physically,” the Barça centre back says.
With only four years separating them, Alberto Entrerrios has always been a kind of a role model for his young brother.
First as a player, but also as a coach, as Raul Entrerrios points out.
“He has been my reference since I was little, I have admired him as he was a player who always listened to his teammates and what they had to say. Alberto has been really important in my development as a player,” says the younger of the two brothers.
Raul Entrerrios might follow the path of his sibling after ending his playing career.
“My step to the other side of the bench line is already on track, and that’s what I am expected to do in Barça,” he says. “The tactical side of handball is always something I have been interested in.”
He has been my reference since I was little, I have admired him as he was a player who always listened to his teammates and what they had to say. Alberto has been really important in my development as a player.
Alberto Entrerrios would not be reluctant to coach a team in which his brother is playing.
“Who would say ‘no’ to him? Raul would make any team better, I would be silly to say no,” the Nantes coach says. “No matter if he is my brother, he is an incredible player and any coach would like to have him by his side.”
But before the family reunion, the post-match chat and considering post-career options, there is an important game to play.
Barça are one of three teams in group B with four points from the first two matches, while Nantes recovered from their season-opening defeat to Veszprém with an impressive victory in Kiel last week.
“Getting the two points in Kiel will, hopefully, allow us to play without any pressure against Barça,” Alberto Entrerrios says. “Those points were quite unexpected, but I am very proud of the handball we were able to play, especially since we were missing important players.”
In Barcelona, the only way is up as well.
“We have been gradually getting better,” Raul Entrerrios says. “We spent a long time without playing, we are still at the stage where we are trying to make things better, but the start of the season has been positive.”
While Alberto and Raul are looking forward to meeting in Nantes, they will not exchange any presents during the 60 minutes on court for the Match of the week.
“I want to win it, even by one goal, but we can only think about the two points,” Raul Entrerrios says.
He might approach retirement, but just like his older brother on the opposite team’s bench, he still remains a competitor, first and foremost.
Raul would make any team better. No matter if he is my brother, he is an incredible player and any coach would like to have him by his side.