EHF European Cup

Third time’s the charm for Nantes?

Kevin Domas / ew

Third time’s the charm for Nantes?

For three straight seasons HBC Nantes featured in the VELUX EHF Champions League, highlighted by their stunning run to the 2018 final.

This season the French side has returned to the EHF Cup, a competition in which they have been doing well also, reaching the final twice.

Nantes are among the favourites for the title but first will have to navigate their way out of a tough group C.

Three questions before the Men’s EHF Cup group phase:

- Can Nantes reach the final of the EHF Cup for the third time?

The French side already made it to the final twice, in 2013 and 2016. And despite hosting the EHF Cup Finals on both occasions, they were defeated by German opponents: Rhein-Neckar Löwen in 2013 and Frisch Auf Göppingen three years later. The road to Berlin will be a tough one but Nantes have a lot of experience and know how to handle European challenges.

- What has coach Alberto Entrerrios changes since taking over?

The Spanish coach replaced Thierry Anti in the summer of 2019, after three seasons in which he assisted Anti. While Nantes already had some Spanish flavour last season, it has become even more visible now. Line player Nicolas Tournat is the key of the team’s offensive game, while most of the players on the back court have played in Spain before. This was reinforced when Entrerrios took over.

- How hard is it for visiting teams to come away from Nantes with points?

Past results don’t lie. Only very few teams have come out victorious at Beaulieu, Nantes’ arena. Only one team did it in the French league this season, and two seasons ago their home strength was a key factor in ‘Le H’ reaching the VELUX EHF FINAL4. Wins over the likes of Rhein-Neckar Löwen, Barça or Pick Szeged are not uncommon on France’s West coast, so all group phase opponents should be warned.

Under the spotlight: Aymeric Minne

The 22 year-old centre back found himself in the middle of a battle between Nantes and Aix last summer, but Minne followed his heart and joined Nantes. Coach Alberto Entrerrios will be happy about it, as the young player scored 52 times in his first 13 French league games. The French national team seems waiting. All doubt has disappeared whether the new pair of centre backs with Minne and Rok Ovnicek would be efficient right away.


The first goal for Nantes is to reach the quarter-final. But with Magdeburg, Velenje and Leon in the group the ticket is not just for pick up. “We will have to be strong and play on a regular level if we want to qualify,” president Gaël Pelletier said after the draw. “Magdeburg are a powerhouse in the Bundesliga while Leon and Velenje are two excellent handball schools.”

What the numbers say

Only four players who faced Frisch Auf Göppingen in the 2016 final are still wearing Nantes’ jersey this season: Valero Rivera, David Balaguer, Nicolas Tournat and Rock Feliho. And Alberto Entrerrios was also on the court, playing the final season of his career.

Fun fact

Alberto Entrerrios has won everything in club handball - except the EHF Cup. He holds three Champions League titles, two Cup Winners’ Cup titles, two IHF Super Globes. The EHF Cup is still lacking on this trophy list which will only add to his motivation for this season.


Bonne journée à tous !

A post shared by HBC Nantes (@hbcnantes) on

HBC Nantes (FRA)

Qualification for Men’s EHF Cup group phase: 60:59 vs OIF Arendal (NOR) in R3

Newcomers: Sebastian Augustinussen (Skjern Handbold), Emil Nielsen (Skjern Handbold), Senjamin Buric (RK PPD Zagreb), Alex Cavalcanti (SL Benfica), Aymeric Minne (Pays d’Aix), Rok Ovnicek (RK Celje), Antonio Garcia Robledo (BM Granollers)

Left the club: Thierry Anti (coach, Sporting CP), Lucian Auffret (Strasbourg), Kevin Bonnefoi (Montpellier), Nicolas Claire (Pays d’Aix), Florian Delecroix (Cesson), Romaric Guillo (Cesson), Romain Lagarde (Rhein-Neckar Löwen), Espen Lie Hansen (Drammen), Arnaud Siffert (Retreat)

Coach: Alberto Entrerrios (since 2019)

Team captain: Rock Feliho

European Cup records:

EHF Cup:
Final (2): 2012/13, 2015/16
Quarter-final (1): 2013/14
Third round (2): 2011/12, 2014/15
Last 16 (1): 2016/17

VELUX EHF Champions League:
Finalists (1): 2017/18
Quarter-final (1): 2018/19
Last 16 (1): 2016/17

French league: -
French cup:1 title (2017)
French league cup: 1 title (2015)

Latest news

More News